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Discussion Starter #1
Hi guys from London, UK, my name is Nia! I'm totally new to this forum and I'm sorry to drop like snow on your heads with this rodent issue of mine. Also please forgive any newby-faux-pas :) But I need urgent help with this tiny critter that accidentally came into my procession yesterday.


Here goes:...
I've no experience with rodents, although I've been wanting to adopt a pair of ratties for the past 6 months. Anyhow, I don't even know WHO this is. First I thought it was a house mouse, then I thought it was a vole, now I'm thinking it might actually be a wild baby rat... I've been looking at pictures online and theoretical word descriptions all day, and I'm CONFUSED! So now a vole seems to be out, since the tail looks longer and the ears aren't furry. Is it a full grown mouse? But the ears seem a bit small? No? Is it a baby rat? It sure acts like a silly baby!


It doesn't appear to be injured physically, but it was disoriented, when I found it in the middle of London traffic. It seems to sleep like literally MOST of the time (never goes exploring), i checked on it during the night as there was a teeny sign of movement. But it does eat whatever i lay in front of it (carrots, oats, seeds... those seemed safe for all rodents). I'm not sure what to do with it... I'm pretty sure it won't be able to forage for itself if I let it go in the park.


Please help me identify the critter, so I would know what care to provide and where to release it if it regains its strength or whether it would be safer domesticated with me!!!


Here are some pictures.


P.S It seems to be ever-so-slowly adapting to new environment, although it still barely moves it finally made a bit of a nest out of the cotton cloth I laid for it/him/she. Before it just sat on top shivering.


P.P.S. I have also placed the container next to the fireplace (not too close :) ) and I think "it" enjoyed it immensely, as it's now always next to that wall.























 

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That looks like a wee baby rat, facially to me. It sounds like it may be ill or injured, that is certainly weird behavior for any wild rodent. I would contact a local wildlife rescue -- I'm in the US and think you said you're from the UK, so I'm not terribly helpful. The RSPCA does seem to offer aid, but it also euthanizes animal not fit for release. London Wild Care seems to be a bit better.
 

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I'm so grateful, nanashi7, for your reply. Could you tell me what indicates it being a rat? (Personally I've been leaning towards that option myself, but I'm such a novice it's just a wild guess with me!)

Don't get me wrong, after the first evening.. it does move and FAST, but only when disturbed, otherwise it just sleeps/eats/and grooms a tiny bit, so I'm hoping it can't be that bad?? It's grown more tolerant to my rummaging around the cage to put food in or to just check whether it's still breathing, so I'm hoping it can still make a recovery without me sending it off to some strange place yet again. It just seemingly started getting used to the environment here, even let me catch him/her and hold for the above photo session (notice the gloves though :) ). It's still pretty tiny to my eyes, I'd say definitely under 3 inches (maybe even closer to 2) (tail excluded) (and my hands are very small for comparison), although I've no idea how you measure them and it keeps squirming. I have scales, but it will be a hopeless attempt i imagine. I'm only familiar with shrews, coz my cat used to catch them, and this one is larger!

Yep, I'm smack in the middle of the capital of UK, and frankly I doubt RSPCA would be interested in a common rat, who's considered a pest and would simply be fed to some larger animal I suspect. I've read some horror stories in this regard while researching this creature! There are some rodent care facilities, but they are all very far from me and seem to be dealing with fancy rats only. I just don't want to stress the poor thing any further, and I'm not opposed to caring for it myself (i work from home), just as long as I know what it is and what it wants :)
 

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That would appear to be a cute (Rattus Cutus)

All joking aside it is quite darling and I wish the poor dear a speedy recovery
 

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Judging by the size of this little baby on your hand i'd say he/she is about 4-6 weeks old which is good news since that means she's weaned (i'm gonna go with 'she' for now). I'd not bother with the RSPCA, i have contacted them various times about injured pigeons and such and they don't care in the slightest so i doubt they'd do much for a rat. :(

If you decided to keep her then i'd go out and get some rat food to make up the main part of her diet and then give her small bits of fresh fruit and veg every now and again. If you decide to release her then stick to bits and bobs she's likely to find in London and stop handling her asap because you;d hate for her to run to a human for safety given most peoples reaction to rats.

Personally, i'd keep her but it's obviously up to you. I've never had a wild rat before but i hear they can be a better natural climbers and even more mischievous than your average fancy rat. You'd also want to handle her LOTS to ensure she bonds with you since she hasn't been bred from rats with good temperaments. I say this just becuase most London homes and streets are riddled with rat poison and predators and dangers like traffic and big stompy feet!

If 'she' turns out to be a 'he' you'll know soon enough as his testicles would descend and be very visible.

I wish you and your new friend the best of luck whatever you decide to do. x
 

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The problems with keeping a YOUNG wild rat versus a BABY wild rat are multitude. I do not encourage this option. For example, you're gonna have a rough time training him to take to a water bottle, his natural instincts will be to reject strange foods, you will struggle to find vet care and companions, and they can be highly unstable. I would ONLY keep if it takes MONTHS to recover or recovery isn't complete.

I would monitor for fever (tail temp, tricky as you need bare hands, should be slightly warm), dehydration (pinch skin elasticity response), and keep an eye for any strange symptoms. Can you describe as full and complete as you can what you've seen since the moment you got him in regards to behavior and symptoms?

I went by facial structure. I can't be positive. http://www.ratbehavior.org/images/RatMouse.jpg And here are my rats at about the same apparent age as that one: http://imgur.com/a/nZKLY
 

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What a darling baby rat. I don't think I could ever release such a dear,,, I'm so weak. Hope you find a good solution for the dear.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Thanks! I'm not opposed to rearing it and keeping it if it's a baby rat. It won't have any other chance otherwise. If it's a full grown mouse I would release it in the park not far from where I found it if it makes a recovery. Ha-ha, I'm not so concerned about the sex at this stage, just WHAT it is :)
 

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Discussion Starter #9 (Edited)
Nanashi7... Well, there are no symptoms as such. I found him yesterday afternoon, so over 24 hours ago. It seemed disoriented and a bit weak, when i found him, and didn't even try to run away. But it started to eat well today, but only when i placed the food right in front of his face - grains and veggies and it also briefly grooms afterwards. There's no discharge from the nose or eyes, fur is even. At first i thought it might be an old mouse, but tiny teeth, feet and nails look fresh. But it just sits in one corner of the container, not doing anything but sleeping as far as i can tell, definitely not trying to escape. Day and night, as I've checked during the night also! In my experience wild things like mice, hedgehogs, moles all try desperately to escape captivity or at least explore its limits. At first it hasn't even made up a nest out of the cloth i placed there, just sat on top. It looked to me like he was shivering a bit, so i placed the container next to the fireplace and things seemed to improve then. It cozied up in that cloth, always next to the wall closest to the heat. I couldn't see any injuries and it CAN move well and fast when i tried to catch him in the container for the examination, for the photoshoot it didn't object as much. This evening it ventured a walk to the other side of the 7lt container and back to the nest. That's it. Nothing else to report. It's the lethargy is what worries me, do baby rats sleep a lot?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
oh, and it has a small water bowl there too. I don't know if it drank from it, but I also included celery and cucumber, because they are watery, and it nibbled them. But pipette was a bust!
 

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They can sleep, but generally sleep is broken up by periods of intense activity. At the very least, you should be getting a response to your stimuli.
 

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It definitely looks like a baby rat to me. In my experience rats that size are very active. I believe there are 3 most likely possibilities:

1. It was injured and is in shock.
2. It was poisoned.
3. It is sick, possibly with rabies.
If it was injured and in shock, it may recover on its own. If it was poisoned, again it may recover on its own. Rats can be difficult to kill with poison because they are so careful when they eat unfamiliar food. But, because of the possibility of rabies I think a visit to the vet or a talk with one is in order.

When I was first becoming interested in rats as pets I read about a NYC transit worker (can't remember for sure but I think he was a bus or subway driver) who found a baby rat in a trashcan on his way home from work one day. He adopted it and took it to work with him every day. It became quite famous and popular in NYC. Of course, I can't locate the story today.

I wish you and the baby well, whatever you ultimately decide to do.
 

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I don't think it's rabies. In either case, at least in the US vets cannot legally see wildlife from people who aren't rehabers. Laws basically say that owning wildlife is illegal as pets so.

It does to me sound like shock. I've read about poisoning and she doesn't seem to be seeing any relevant symptoms. The problem with shock is that it's pretty hit or miss when your rat goes into it. You keep them warm and hydrated but it's basically a waiting game.
 

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I wouldn't take it to the RSPCA I doubt they'd even take it. I may be wrong but depending on what species of rat it is (if a rat) you might not actually be allowed to release it back into the wild. It is probably a brown rat in which case it can be released but if it is a black rat it can't. I'd personally release it once its grown a bit (but again it may harm it to release it in the wrong place), I don't know much about the topic but if you want to keep rats it's probably better to get yourself a fancy rat I'd imagine wild rats don't make great pets in most cases.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Just wanted to thank everyone once again for the suggestions. Just an small update: it seems the general consensus is that it IS a baby rat (although because it's this tiny I still have some doubts :) ) I was told that it will not survive in the wild, even when it grows up a bit, because rats are colonial and will kill an unfamiliar rat. So if it is indeed a rat, it looks like I'm going to have to keep it, which I'm fine with. I don't want it to go to RSPCA or any other strange place, where they might exterminate it or feed it to some larger animal.

It's been over 48 hours now and the critter is doing better. I think it was indeed exhausted and in shock from the ordeal. It has regained a bit of strength and I noticed him rummaging around a lot more today, he makes regular trips to the water bowl, eats and started to groom itself properly head-to-toe style as well as bruxing. He showed a bit of interest in his surroundings, but not yet fully active, as you guys say he should be at his age.

What age do you think he is? Someone said 4-5 weeks, but another person thought closer to 3 weeks...

He appears to be scared, but not aggressive, so I tried to pet him first very cautiously, but later he even closed his eyes and was bruxing while i was petting him. Before he'd just curl up or try to move away, but this evening he was looking up and sniffing at me.

I should probably try to sex "it" next :)
 

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If you intend to keep him, I would advise you to begin seriously investing in him. What I would recommend (assuming he is a rat):

-Socialize him; get a positively inescapable place and start spending hours with him with treats and touching him. Keep your skin covered. I would recommend an enclosed shower, a kiddie tent, or get a cardboard "wall" at least three foot tall and block off a hallway -- something he cant jump out of, run away from, or hide in. This is regardless of being mouse or rat.
-Get a completely metal cage. No plastic bases, avoid "drop down" doors such as guinea pig cages. This is for him being a rat. It'll need at least 2.5sq ft with him being wild.
-Find a vet. You'll especially need a vet if he is male, because neutering young in wildies saves a lot of trouble. Mostly for him being a rat.
-Identify gender; get him a friend of the same sex. I would save this for when he is social(ish) with you, and when he has been in your care for three weeks (quarantine). This is assuming he is a rat. Within three weeks you should know without a doubt gender and species. Don't wait much longer than quarantine as the key time to introduce is well before 12 weeks. You'll need to find another young rat. You should also neuter him if he is a male even if he introduced fine to a friend as he can become territorial.

I'll put a disclaimer that most of my knowledge is from HALF wild rat, but it should still apply.
 

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Will be extremely interesting to see how this goes :) I've never heard of anyone keeping a completely wild rat before. Keep us posted.
 

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I've raised a part wild rat, it escaped lived outdoors for 5 months and came home for winter... Wild rats are very capable.... They can also be very loving pets. They usually don't warm up to strangers. And when upset or frightened they can and will bite to cause severe injury to people they don't know. Don't get confused they won't bite you or your family who they will learn to love.... just be very careful around strangers... Wild rats don't see all humans as friends nor do they see all rats as friends, they are really pack animals... so there is pack and there is enemy.... I could introduce our part wild rat to strangers, but if a stranger tried to grab her she would shred him... So keep that in mind... Think tiny wolf or pitbull... one owner or family pet. My daughter could stuff our part wild rat into a barbie doll dress, my neighbor tried to snatch our rat from the ground and she turned his hand into hamburger meat before he could even drop her... I took her to my daughter's school and she met several dozen children and as long as I was holding her she was down right charming with the kids.... but I was there and managed each intro very carefully... So you've been warned... No matter how sweet this rat gets with your family always be careful around strangers!

Otherwise wild rats are super agile and active, they are fun to watch and play with and they can do amazing things like jump and climb and evaporate right into thin air... They can even go perfectly flat and slide under doors like an envelope. They can be a bit spooky, but they are usually completely safe for their owners and often become affectionate to the point of being a bit clingy for the boys.... Less so for the girls... Make sure to teach your rat the "come" command and other important commands. Our part wild rat was very well trained and came as soon as we called her... otherwise there was no way of finding or catching her. She would bound into the shadows and was instantly gone. She liked high places and sometime we'd spot her up on the fridge or in the cabinets watching us, but usually we just got the creepy feeling of being watched all the time. I once saw her run right up a wall with her back to a cabinet. Mostly I just called her and she would pop up right next to me from nowhere. She was a very cool animal... And if your rat does tend to be evaporate, don't worry, she's a wild rat and will never get lost. If she likes you and you're her home she'll be back.

Don't be confused, all fancy rats are offspring of rats just like yours, mostly fancy rats are calmer and more relaxed around people, but if you had a pet rat a hundred years twenty ago, odds are you caught it yourself. Wild rats can be truly wonderful pets, within limits, remember pet wolf, not poodle.

I might add one very important point, already mentioned, you have to socialize this animal now! It's got to get to know you and to become your friend while it's young. Once a wild rat gets too big, it's just too dangerous to handle if it isn't socialized or it doesn't like you. Think about hand raising a wolf pup... it might be fun, now think about ambushing a wild adult wolf in the forest... which would mostly be less fun and possibly even lethal to you.... I'm not saying you can't socialize an adult wild rat or adult wild wolf, just that it isn't a very good idea.

Hand feed your new rat... hold it as much as you can, carry it around with you if you can, and treat it like a human baby you are adopting... even let it nap on you.... Feed it some cereal and milk. Make sure it gets to know your other family members. If you do this right, you will have the opportunity of a lifetime to raise a very exotic animal that will become part of your family, it might even welcome fancy rat friends.

I don't necessarily recommend that most people go and catch their own pet rats, but when a sick little stray turns up, it can be an opportunity for both the rat and the human to build a friendship that will be rewarding to both. I might add until the rat learns to drink from a water bottle leave it a dish of water so it doesn't dehydrate.

I've worked with a few wild rat owners, and it takes a bit or work and dedication to properly bond with them, and they can be challenging, but some of the wild rats we've worked with really turned out to be quite amazing friends to their humans.

Best luck and have fun.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
That was very useful RatDaddy, thanks a lot. I was just not sure how sick and stressed he was, but tonight the very 1st escape attempt was made!!! So i guess he's not feeling sick anymore :) and I can start handling him tomorrow. Problem is I'm just not yet comfortable around ANY rats, as no one i knew ever had one. I guess we both have to learn to trust each other. I'm awfully worried that he'll just run off under the floorboards... oh, and bite me of course :-( Basically not the ideal 1st time rat situation, but I'll try to make the best of it.

Many good things to know for the future, I'll keep all of it in mind!

I've been browsing youtube videos and my ward does look awfully young, I'd say whoever thought 3 weeks was spot on! I think he's also really small even for three weeks size wise, but may be wild rats are slightly different in development.
 
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