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The TL; DR of this is that I'm wondering of success/failures of litter-training adult rats. Say maybe a year old?

My story: I met my very first rescue rats. I can fully understand how mischiefs can grow to sizes beyond what people originally expect. My wife and I were able to walk away, but there's the possibility of coming back.

The rescue rats are at Petco. In their small-animal aisle, they have cages with hamsters that people didn't want. Rarely do I see a rescue ferret or rat. But yesterday we saw a cage with two rats. They are larger than ours, so we're estimating about a year, but we honestly have no idea. Our rats are 5 and 6 months old, so these rats could be anywhere from 8 months to 2 years for all we know.

While our hearts went out to these two, it was still easy enough to walk away. The store employee explained that a family bought these two and realized that they didn't want to put forth the effort to maintain them. The store wanted $40 for the rats and the cage, though we had no interest in that cage. I don't know the brand, but it was all wire mesh and looked a little shoddily made. Once you own a DCN, it's easy to become a cage snob.

Even when taken away from their negligent (potentially abusive?) home, these rats weren't in great shape. They had some gunk around their eyes. Otherwise, they seemed healthy, but they didn't look as well-kempt as my rats at home. I'm not sure how much of that is based on their home, though. I would definitely want to consider a vet visit.

There was a sign warning people not to put fingers in the cage because the rats will think they're food. We tested that theory, and it's true. They were very interested in hands on the cage. So the family fed them through the bars. Makes me wonder how much time was spent with hands in the cage itself. The answer looks to be "not very much," as was evident when I opened the cage to get a closer look. Both rats ran, but I was able to scoop up the hooded rat. She wasn't pleased with being held and leaped into the cage (I didn't wander far for just that reason). The PEW, however, bit me when I tried to scoop her up.

The bite is what told me that these two required more maintenance than we could provide. They were both skittish, probably sick, and even partly aggressive. The store said they've been there for a while. We may check back later and see. The PEW was either really fluffy or had a tumor on her chest. Not that I'm a vet, but I probably could have ruled out the tumor idea if I could have just picked her up. We expressed our concern that there might be a tumor. Someone with more knowledge than us can take a closer look.

If the PEW does have a tumor that isn't benign, then the hooded rat might be left alone. If that happens, then we may consider taking on that task. We wouldn't want to adopt the hooded and leave the PEW to a miserable lonely existence. I mean, she's already miserable now, but at least she has a friend.

So all of that to ask about adults and litter training, because I'm sure these two aren't litter trained. If we pick up the hooded rat (or insanely pick up both rats), then we'll have to deal with stray poops. I suspect that rats being such clever animals would figure it out pretty quickly, even as adults, but it's worth asking.
 
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