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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
So basically I have decided that I'd really like to get myself some pet rats. I've done quite a lot of research, but am still unsure about a number of things. It's been bothering me for about two weeks now, and I've been weighing the pros and cons of owning this pet and still cannot decide.

A few days ago I was at a pet store, to first see if I liked how they were like in person. I had never gotten the chance to play with rats before so this was a very important step. I instantly fell in love with them, but things at the back of my mind just keep coming back to haunt me.

I'd like to start off by saying a few things. I am looking for help, and not to be flamed on these forums. You may not agree with some things I may say, but you cannot say that I am a horrible person considering how much thought I am putting into this before actually going out and buying the rats. Although maybe I should not be coming to a "Rat Forum" expecting people to tell me anything bad about them, I am hoping you guys will be dead honest with me. No sugar coating please. I need the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It's horrible how many animals end up neglected because people got the wrong information before buying. D:

Anyways, I have a bunch of questions and if you guys could answer them for me in as much detail as possible I would be SO greatful. :)


1. Male vs. Female. Females are more prone to tumors, but are more active and smell less then the males. Which one would you recommend I buy? Could you talk about your experiences owning either? The whole tumor issue is a huge concern of mine. I probably cannot afford surgery for a rat. Additionally, what's usually the youngest age a rat develops mammary tumors (I understand it can be at almost any age).

2. What is the average cost each month needed to support 2 rats? Be specific on what this include. (Ideally include the brand of products you buy and where)

3. Euthanasia; How much does it cost for a rat (In Canada... but giving me American prices won't hurt either)?

4. I have found out what doing Euthanasia at home is possible using CO2 gas or something. If someone could look into this and tell me if it is cruel or not, I'd appreciate it. This should help start you up : http://www.anapsid.org/co2.html

5. How big do females get versus males?

6. When should I take my rat to the vet? What if money is an issue, could I only do so in an absolute emergency? What are average veterinary costs for 2 rats per month?year?in general?

7.Could someone post a picture of them and their pet rat? I wouldn't want it to be close up like most pictures are, as this does not give me an accurate estimation of how big the adults get. I'm a visual type of person, and need to see rather then be told in inches.:p Preferably a picture of you standing beside your rat or something.

8.Can you take pet rats with you outside to play?
 

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Re: I may be getting 2 lovely rats soon, and need YOUR advic

Ok I'll give this a shot to the best of my limited knowledge. I've only owned rats for about a year and a half now, and it's been a learning process the entire way. These forums will give you tons of good information. Many people are extremely experienced and have a lot of ratty wisdom to share. Anyhow on with your questions....


1. Male vs. Female. Females are more prone to tumors, but are more active and smell less then the males. Which one would you recommend I buy? Could you talk about your experiences owning either? The whole tumor issue is a huge concern of mine. I probably cannot afford surgery for a rat. Additionally, what's usually the youngest age a rat develops mammary tumors (I understand it can be at almost any age).

- This is really personal preference. I like males myself because it's what we started with and we wanted to stick with just one sex for rats so we didn't end up with any oops litters, or be too tempted to try and breed. But do be aware that most rats will need to go to the vet at some point in their life, so you might want to try and keep some sort of emergency vet fund (at least $100) in a safe place just in case. When they get sick they go downhill very very fast, sometimes they can die within hours of showing signs of illness and unless you're willing/able to get them vet care ASAP and start them on meds you'll most likely lose them... and that is a very painful experience I can tell you first hand, I lost 3 sweet loving rats to URI before I realized that I HAD to take them to the vet or I'd lose them all. I don't have experience with mammory tumors as we only have males.

I like to keep a little baytril and revolution on hand for any emergency situations I get, I just be sure that the baytril doesn't expire. Baytril runs me about $50 for a two week supply for 4 rats, and Revolution is about $40 for a two month supply for 4 rats.


2. What is the average cost each month needed to support 2 rats? Be specific on what this include. (Ideally include the brand of products you buy and where)

- Other than the initial set up of cage and accessories, $5 for a 5lb bag of labblocks that I order online (I order from thecraftyrat.com). A 5lb bag lasts my 4 boys at least 2 or 3 months. I just added two new boys and ordered them their own bag of lab blocks for the younger rats.

- Bedding/Litter, $18 a month on a large bag of yesterdays news for the litterboxes. $3 for a 18 pack of hand towels from walmart, 1.25 a blanket for fleece baby blankets from the goodwill for bedding. I usually buy about 4 or 5 fleece blankets from the goodwill each month and cut them up into shelf sized peices for their cages.

- Fresh veggies - very cheap, few dollars a month.

- Toys are generally free, free as in left over trash stuffs! Paper towel rolls, egg cartons, any cardboard box that you're going to throw away (the butter box, the cereal box, the pepsi box that the 12 packs come in, etc). They love paper bags.

- So as a general guess here: $5-10 a month on food.
$3 a month on hand towels
$5 a month on fleece blankets

3. Euthanasia; How much does it cost for a rat (In Canada... but giving me American prices won't hurt either)?

- I haven't had to have a rat euthanised yet, but when I had my cat euthanized it was about $75 total.

4. I have found out what doing Euthanasia at home is possible using CO2 gas or something. If someone could look into this and tell me if it is cruel or not, I'd appreciate it. This should help start you up : www.anapsid.org/co2.html

- This can be a touchy subject. Many feel that it is humane while others do not. There is a lot of controversy on the matter. In my opinion it is the most humane way to euthanize anything. Another huge question that usually comes into play is why do you want to have a co2 chamber set up at home? Reptiles? Just be sure you read a lot on that issue, if you're feeding (which is an EXTREMELY touchy subject and best left completely off the forums) then you have to also be able to freeze after co2 otherwise you can make your reptiles ill (from what I've read/heard, no real life experience with this).


5. How big do females get versus males?

- From what I've seen the boys usually get larger, but that could be due to the lazy squishy lap rat men that the boys usually become, while the girls stay really active.


6. When should I take my rat to the vet? What if money is an issue, could I only do so in an absolute emergency? What are average veterinary costs for 2 rats per month?year?in general?

-Hmm, this is really a case by case thing. $30-45 for the office visit, $50-100 for antibiotics, $40-60 for a spay/neuter, $40 for a pack of revolution for skin parasites (mites, lice). Rats are extremely prone to URI (upper respitory infections, spelling might be terrible on that) and sometimes need extra vet care regularly which can get pricey. I've been very lucky to only have gone through one really bad bout of URI with my boys and a good 2 week run on antibiotics cleared it up, it was under $200 at the vet... can't remember exactly but I think it was over $150.


7.Could someone post a picture of them and their pet rat? I wouldn't want it to be close up like most pictures are, as this does not give me an accurate estimation of how big the adults get. I'm a visual type of person, and need to see rather then be told in inches. Preferably a picture of you standing beside your rat or something.

There are dozens and dozens of pictures in the "Meet My Rat" threads, rats come in a varitey of sizes depending on what the eat, how they are cared for, their genetics, etc. Usually they get to about a pound or so full grown, but can plump up to 2 pounds if you feed them junk food (just like people!). Here is a picture of my oldest rat, Igor. He is about 18 months old which I believe is just over the middle aged hill for ratties.



But here is Sylvester, a year younger than Igor and much fatter!



This is his best "NO MOMMY NO!!!" pose.... he was barbering his legs a while back but hasn't had a barbering episode in a while luckily...



8.Can you take pet rats with you outside to play?

Sure! Just be sure they are nice and comfortable with you or they might just run off! Usually rats don't want to run away like hamsters do, they love to explore then run back to their human to say hello, steal a kiss (or treat) then run back off to play. You want to make sure you're not letting them play in any areas that have been sprayed with any types of bug sprays or fertilizers... for obvious reasons. I've taken my boys out into the grass before (usually one at a time unless you've got a good strong pen for them to play in, at least for me, several rats running free outside in right now in my book) and they love it! They also love playing in trees, just be sure you can climb up after them.. hahaha.. they might not want to come down.

Anyway hope that helps, like I said I'm still new to this rat thing and still learning new things every day! Enjoy rats!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Re: I may be getting 2 lovely rats soon, and need YOUR advic

Thank you so much! That was very helpful and a great read.

Other people - please don't be discouraged to post thinking I already have all the information I need. The more people answer, the more I learn which is key. I really appreciate anyone taking the time to do this.

I'd also like to add in one more question:

Why do some rat tails have a brown like appearance when they got older? Does it only look kind of weird/bad in pictures, or is it the same in real life? :/
 

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Re: I may be getting 2 lovely rats soon, and need YOUR advic

First and foremost I would go edit your Poll and put an S on the ends of female and male, otherwise all you're going to hear is "you need 2!!"

Lots of questions but I will try to answer. I am Shelagh from Toronto, ON btw, where approximately in Canada are you located?

mikey said:
So basically I have decided that I'd really like to get myself some pet rats. I've done quite a lot of research, but am still unsure about a number of things. It's been bothering me for about two weeks now, and I've been weighing the pros and cons of owning this pet and still cannot decide.

A few days ago I was at a pet store, to first see if I liked how they were like in person. I had never gotten the chance to play with rats before so this was a very important step. I instantly fell in love with them, but things at the back of my mind just keep coming back to haunt me.

I'd like to start off by saying a few things. I am looking for help, and not to be flamed on these forums. You may not agree with some things I may say, but you cannot say that I am a horrible person considering how much thought I am putting into this before actually going out and buying the rats. Although maybe I should not be coming to a "Rat Forum" expecting people to tell me anything bad about them, I am hoping you guys will be dead honest with me. No sugar coating please. I need the whole truth and nothing but the truth. It's horrible how many animals end up neglected because people got the wrong information before buying. D:

Anyways, I have a bunch of questions and if you guys could answer them for me in as much detail as possible I would be SO greatful. :)


1. Male vs. Female. Females are more prone to tumors, but are more active and smell less then the males. Which one would you recommend I buy? Could you talk about your experiences owning either? The whole tumor issue is a huge concern of mine. I probably cannot afford surgery for a rat. Additionally, what's usually the youngest age a rat develops mammary tumors (I understand it can be at almost any age).
It all depends on your own personality. I prefer the busyness of females, but they are not generally as cuddly as the males. IF you are looking for a rat thats a bit slower and may actually lie beside/on you while you are watching TV, females may not be for you. :) I love how they come to visit, say hi, quick lick and then off again...some people may hate that.
The males generally settle down quickly and are much more laid back...just remember generally is the norm not the rule. :)


mikey said:
2. What is the average cost each month needed to support 2 rats? Be specific on what this include. (Ideally include the brand of products you buy and where)
This can be tricky to quote for you since it varies from place to place, like the maritimes have issues getting some products.
Lets see...2 rats? (I will have to divide my costs by 20...hehe).
Bedding - Aspen shavings - you can sometimes buy a bale at some petstores that will last ages for $20 (if you have storage space). I was getting mine from a pet supply depot for $11.00 and I could use it for a month and a half for 30 rats. You can also buy much smaller packages for comparitively a lot of money at a regular pet store.
You can also use fleece/fabric as bedding, which I am doing now for my cages. Fleece blankets at Dollarama are a buck a piece (you are Cdn so I can mention Dollarama...hehe). You will need to change the fleece every 3-4 days but you can have fun with patterns and colours. :)
This was a cage I made up for a little foster boy coming the next day :)

Food for 2 rats? Lets see, 2 lbs of Mazuri blocks is $9 at Petsmart and the rule is 1 lb per rat per month. You can supplement with fresh veggies (lettuce, carrots, thawed frozen peas) ....say another $10 minimum but a lot of this can be from your own supplies.

The cage will be the big investment. The initial outlay may seem expensive but if you get a good cage right away its soo worth it.
use a cage calculator to make sure the cage really does fit 2 rats, do not listen to pet shop employees! :)
http://www.fancy-rats.co.uk/information/habitat/cagecalculator/


mikey said:
3. Euthanasia; How much does it cost for a rat (In Canada... but giving me American prices won't hurt either)?
I have paid $30-70 for a euthanasia. I would say average humane euth (gas first then heart stick) is about $50-65. Always try to keep this money aside since they can suffer horribly and linger a long time. :(

mikey said:
4. I have found out what doing Euthanasia at home is possible using CO2 gas or something. If someone could look into this and tell me if it is cruel or not, I'd appreciate it. This should help start you up : http://www.anapsid.org/co2.html
The CO2 euthanasia at one point was considered humane and painless (as was the freezer method) until someone went ahead and tested it (not to the death obviously) on themselves to see how painless it would be for rats...this method has been denounced. Home euth's have a big opportunity for going really really wrong and you cause your ratfriend more suffering. Responsible ratowners will always tell you there's no good way to euth at home and a vet should always do it.

mikey said:
5. How big do females get versus males?
Thats a tricky one since rats are like people and come in a variety of sizes and shapes. Generally a normal female is 300-450 grams, and an average male is 500 grams up. I have seen males up to 800 grams. Big squishy males who may or not have been obese. Obesity can really hurt your rat in the end.

mikey said:
6. When should I take my rat to the vet? What if money is an issue, could I only do so in an absolute emergency? What are average veterinary costs for 2 rats per month?year?in general?
Oooh wow, this one is the hardest one yet. Some rats never need a vet in their lifetime, but they are few and far between. I would say any sign of URI (Upper Respiratory Infection) they must go to the vet, where they should be examined and given antibiotics like baytril and doxycycline which they would need to take orally for 2-3 weeks (I prefer 3 weeks). URI's do not clear up on their own. Small wounds, abscesses etc can all be taken care of at home. Degloving, major wounds all need vet care. The majority of owners are at the vet for URI's. A visit for 2 rats would cost me anywhere from $90-150....

mikey said:
7.Could someone post a picture of them and their pet rat? I wouldn't want it to be close up like most pictures are, as this does not give me an accurate estimation of how big the adults get. I'm a visual type of person, and need to see rather then be told in inches.:p Preferably a picture of you standing beside your rat or something.
I know this isn't quite what you wanted but I can hope it helps give you an idea. :) It is sadly just me here with my rats and not very often do I get pics of me actually with them and none like what you are asking...hehehe.
I am a tall woman at 5'11", bigger boned with larger hands and long fingers. This might give you an idea of how big the rats are. :)
This is one of my foster boys, Charlie, a nice solid average male.

These are some small to medium sized boys (small is in middle). More fosters (or whats I took in and rehomed to rat people)

This is my bigger squishy girl Lucine (blind)

Small female, Tosca

My big neutered boy on my cordless drill

Lastly, if you know the size of 8 oz waterbottles then this cage is full of smaller and medium females and 2 neutered boys. :)


mikey said:
8.Can you take pet rats with you outside to play?
You can if you are very careful and you do not let them anywhere people who may other rats since there are some horrible deadly rat viruses that can be carried by the owner. :(

L
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Re: I may be getting 2 lovely rats soon, and need YOUR advic

I'm actually very close to where you are. Pickering Ontario, which is like 20minutes away from Toronto.

That was also very helpful, thank you very much. :) Do you know a store that carries good cages?
 

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Re: I may be getting 2 lovely rats soon, and need YOUR advic

mikey said:
I'm actually very close to where you are. Pickering Ontario, which is like 20minutes away from Toronto.

That was also very helpful, thank you very much. :) Do you know a store that carries good cages?
Pickering? Hmmm...do you have access to a car? You might be able to get to Ren's Pet Depot in Oakville on Trafalger Rd. :)

Now for cages in Ontario there's not a lot of options to buy. There are a few galvanized wire ones (All Living Things I believe?) but stay far away from galvanized. There's Superpet cages but they usually have large bar spacing since they are made for rabbits or ferrets.

How much are you willing to spend?

I actually have Martins cages here (amazing rat cages you order from PA), an FN, and some Superpets.
 

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Re: I may be getting 2 lovely rats soon, and need YOUR advic

I'm hoping to spend as little as possible. I don't mean I want to buy a small cage, but I don't plan to spend a fortune either. :/
 

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Re: I may be getting 2 lovely rats soon, and need YOUR advic

http://toronto.craigslist.org/pet/423782782.html

The first 3 cages would be fine for 2 rats, but you would need to make your own shelves and levels but modifying a cage can be a lot of fun and done cheaply. Take those first 3 measurements and enter them into the cage calculator link to see how it works.

If you get tiny babies the spacing might be too much though. Depends on which cage.

http://toronto.craigslist.org/pet/415883916.html

this one...
 

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Re: I may be getting 2 lovely rats soon, and need YOUR advic

Well, being frugal is good, but you will need a vet slush fund. When rats get sick they do it in style and meds are never cheap. :(

As to size... Well, Bacardi's about as big as a female...

 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Re: I may be getting 2 lovely rats soon, and need YOUR advic

Okay thanks for the advice on cages.

All these pictures are making me want one really bad, haha!

If anyone has any other input before I go out and get one, please do put your '2 cents' in.
 
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