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Discussion Starter #1
So, I have my first rat. Female dumbo rat named Freyja. I imagine she's rather young as she's small and I just got her from the pet store this past weekend. Anyway, here are my concerns


in the pet store, I saw her running like mad on the wheel. At home, I see nothing. I got the exact same type of wheel, only a couple inches shorter since my cage is smaller. I'm worried she's not getting any exercise.

She's hard to socialize with. She often will sniff me and kind of nibbles on me (not really biting down), but she's hard to get out of the cage. When I do get her out, she has a tendency to poop on me. I suppose just the result of nerves. I'm trying that forced socialization thing.

I see very little food disappearing. She does drink, and there is evidence that she is eating a little, but I do not know if it is enough.

She is the only rat. I tend to be a bit of a night owl and often stay up till 2 AM when I can, sometimes later on weekends, so I'm hoping this is enough for her. She seems to sleep a fair amount at night as well from what I've seen.

How often should I change the bedding? Twice a week? That's just a guess, I really don't know.


Any other advice offered would be wonderful. Thanks


Mutt
 

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she's just a bit scared of the new environment and being without any of her own kind. keep up the forced socailization but consider getting her a another little girl to pal around with. it sounds like she could really need one. having another rat around will make her feel more confident too so you\ll be able to better and more easily socailize her.

as for the food. what are you feeding her? if she's getting used to a new diet she won't eat much of it at first. rats can't vomit so they're very careful what they eat. they'll take only a little bit then wait to see if they still feel ok. if they do they take a little more and wait again. eventually she'll realize you're not trying to poison her and eat everything that's yummy. but don't be surprised if she does this with every new food that comes her way. also rats are small so have small stomachs. one rat wouldn't eat a whole lot anyway.

as for the wheel. what type of wheel is it? description? it may be that she just doesn't feel secure enough in her new environment yet but it could also be that its a tad too small for her. i can't tell without a better description though.

for the bedding. it depends on the type of cage and the type of bedding. i can't give you any more help in that area until i know the size of the cage and the litter used. but all toys (hammocks and other cloths) should be changed and washed at least once a week. you might be able to sneak by with once every two weeks but its better for all involved if its once a week. you cna tell for yourself though when you start smelling it. by that time its most definately time to change the toys
 

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Discussion Starter #3
The food is the kind they recommended at the pet story, I think it is what they were using.

The wheel is 8 1/2 inch solid wheel. I think the one in the pet store cage was 12 inches, but this cage just isn't tall enough to hold that.

the cage is a little over 2' long, about a foot deep and i'm going with 14" or so tall. (the biggest I could afford on my meager college budget.

I considred getting her a friend, but that's another one pooping on me and another I've got to socialize. I think you're right though, it might be best. Do you think my cage is big enough? Yes I do plan on trying to get a bigger one when I can.

EDIT: I forgot to mention. Carefresh bedding. same as is used in the pet store I got her at. (I tried to make as few changes to what she was used to as possible)
 

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i wouldn't hold much credit to what the pet store recommends. most pet stores don't really care much about their rats as most are fed as feeders anyway. though if they ahve them on carefresh bedding maybe this one is a little different. is it a lab block or mix? its possible she just doesn't really care much for the lab block (i've had very few rats in my time that actually liked them). and if its a mix she could just be eating the stuff that she likes and leaving the rest. though i would be concerned with what was in the mix if it was store bought. most pet store mixes have too much junk food in there and not enough nutritous food for rats. you may want to look up Suebee's diet. its highly recommended for rats and depending on where you live (in a city or out in the boonies) relatively easy to get.

let me get back to on the cage size when i've found the measuring tape. i can't for the life of me find one and i know we have at least 3 hiding here somewhere. i need the visual reference the measuring tape gives me.

with the problems of having one vs two. there is none. yes, there is another rat that could poop on you and you will have to spend time with her as well, but you can spend time with the both of them at the same time. and its really the best way to keep rats. it could very well be that your only problem with your current rat is that she's alone and scared. think of it from her prespective. "you've just been taken from everyone you have ever known and placed into a cage (even if amply spaced) all by yourself. nothing smells the same. there's loads of new noises (or there's a considerable lack of noise where once there was) and there's these giant hands that keep reaching for you. you don't know if the hands are going to hurt you or not but maybe if you stay very very still or make yourself as small as possible the hands won't see you. all this is terrifing and you have no one that understands you to talk about it with." that's probably along the lines of her thinking right now. the sudden isolation alone would be enough to get me nervous but add in a giant and the completely unfamilar surroundings... if she had someone you buddy up with, someone that spoke the same language and to keep her company at night. well i know i'm less frightened of new things when i have someone else to talk to about it and going through it with me. costs of maintaining 2 rats is no different then the costs for 1. heck, really its not til you get to 6 that you start noticing the difference on how much food you have to buy and even then its slight. she will be much happier with a friend and i promise you it won't be any harder to socailize one then it is to socailize 2. in fact it will probably be easier.

with litter changes i'd go with at least once a week. perhaps twice a week. carefresh is supposed to be pretty good with odour control though so maybe you coudl get away with once every 1 and half weeks. but again, let me find that measureing tape to reference the cage with then i'll be able to give a better judgement.

on a side note, do you have a name for your rat? and can you share any pictures of her and her diggs?

EDIT: i just used http://www.rattycorner.com/odds/calc.shtml to calculate the rat cage ratio (i still need the measureing tape for the visual reference about the cage cleaning) but your current cage can only hold one rat. perhaps if you look on ebay or kijiji.ca you'll be able to find a bigger cage for cheap. largish bird cages are pretty good to start with.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
well, I decided. I JUST bought another dumbo rat. female as well. Mostly white, named Sif (for those of you who don't know your Norse Mythology, Sif is a beautiful, famously golden-haired goddess. Wife of Thor.)

I also switched out my 30 dollar cage for a 120 dollar cage lol. Same size at the base, but 3 levels high.

Oh, and i got the new rat from the same pet store. So I'm pretty sure they already know each other, and hopefully, they don't need to re-establish dominance.

I asked, they're probably about 2 months old. And several of the pet store workers OWN pet rats. So they do care, i believe. Also, the food is mixed, with some lab blocks in it. so it's truly MIXED lol.

I think they, and I, are going to be a lot happier now.
 

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Wheels are bad =\ Yours might work but personally I don't trust them as I've heard the horror stories of rats tails getting caught and skinned completely or snapped off.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
ooh, nooo, the pet store told me this - get a SOLID one. not the wire ones, so it doesn't have any gaps. the reason - so the tail can't get caught.


And yes, Freyja and Sif. I'll work on getting pics up asap
 

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tasha said:
Wheels are bad =\ Yours might work but personally I don't trust them as I've heard the horror stories of rats tails getting caught and skinned completely or snapped off.
That's if you get a wire wheel. solid-surface wheels are perfect lifesavers. My girls often run the wheel for hours on end. Haha!
 

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#1 don't bother trying to replicate what the pet store has - likely they have been there for a week or less and the pet store is probably nothing like where they grew up at the breeders anyway. Carefresh is very expensive, and frankly I don't like it. I found that my farm supply sells bales of wood shavings for $6.99 - 10 cubic feet. No cedar or pine in it. It absorbs odor much better too.

#2 Very, very few rats will run on wheels. A few will, and then mostly only females. My single female is nuts for the thing actually. But she's an exception. None of my guys will touch a wheel.

#3 DON'T feed mixed food. Lab block only (I use Harlan Teklad only myself, and most others are for "rats/mice" and not formulated specifically for rats alone). You can also give some veggies - I use frozen mixed veggies from the store. For treats is I use pieces of small breed dog biscuits - very cheap, and a $2 bag lasts a bunch of rats quite some time.

#4 Forced socialization is the key - HANDLE them. Don't just let them run around on you. You have to keep your hands on them. Do it for 20 minutes at a time, 2 to 3 times per day for each rat. Handle them individually. Soon the pooping will go away as they get used to being handled. Don't get all bent when they poo on you. And definitely don't put them back in the cage. Act like nothing happened and just clean it up. Make sure you hang on to them till they are done defecating on you and are calm before allowing them back in the cage or they will think that a good poop will get you to put them back. It's all about association - they need to associate you with good things like treats. Always put them back calm, clean and with a treat, and always spend at least 20 minutes with each rat individually. Don't let them all out at once till they are good and socialized.

Rick
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Ok, i'm worried again. my rats are now acting very skidish. could it be because i was trying to get one out to socialize with her, but couldn't get a hold on her so gave up for that night? that's the ONLY thing I can think of. or maybe it's natural for them to be skidish every once in a while?
 

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Discussion Starter #11
or maybe they're just more hyper no that they're used to the cage? idk it's hard to get to them to pick them up. I'm worried I won't be able to socialize with them. Just the other day, both of them where comfortable to the point where they were grinding their teeth and cleaning while i held them.
 

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GRAB the rat. Don't just tickle it. Do it quick, and don't give up till you have em. If you let them learn they can get away from you, you are teaching them to avoid you. Also it's best to always come bearing treats - put your hand in the cage with a really juicy treat and just sit there. Rats are extremely curious, and eventually they will check you out. That's how rat/mouse traps work.

Basically you can't let them make the rules. If you have to upend everything in the cage to get a grip on them, then so be it. They aren't going to care that you messed up their "nest". They will have great fun rebuilding it anyway.

I also seem to have greater success than other people because the cage sits on my computer desk where I do my schoolwork, and surf the internet in the evenings, etc. They quickly become very used to my smell and presence. When I open the cage door it's a mad dash to see who can get to me first, and they hang off the sides of the cage trying to get my attention. I also make it a point to let them lick my fingers though the cage bars quite a bit - it reinforces that my fingers are NOT food - I've never been bitten - even when I do smell like doritos.

Rick
 
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