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Discussion Starter #1
Hidey ho. My wife and I decided to get two rats. We had planned on after New Year's, because my wife was still a little unsure about warming up to a rat with its beady eyes and twitchy nose, so we scheduled a play date with a friend and her rats. Yesterday we stopped by three pet shops to price cages, and my wife fell in love with a creamy brown rat that we have now named Latte. I had expected to do a lot of research ahead of time, but now we have Latte and her little friend, Chloe in our home. I've done some research already, but I feel like I must do some more.

We bought a starter rat cage. It's 24"x12"x14", so it has the 2 cubic feet needed to provide a comfortable home. I intend to add a new cage. It looks like Critter Nation and Martin's provide some really great cages. I love the pictures of the doors opening wide. This starter cage has a little door.

So far I guess Latte and Chloe are still getting used to things. They were human-handled at the shop, so they came to us already friendly, though Chloe is really curious, and when I have to reign her in, she panics and pees on me. Latte is more laid back. I still feel a little awkward when I grab them. That's probably why Chloe pees on me. She's quick, so I kind of panic when I reach for her. Looks like I may need some training too.

My starter cage seems kind of dull right now. I got some treats, check sticks, and a habitat dome that hangs from the ceiling. I moved the habitat to be within reach of the second shelf. I hid a banana chip on the far side of the habitat dome to see if they eventually find it. I'm not sure if it's too early, but they aren't interested in taking treats from me. It makes it hard to reward them. They just ignore the banana chip (though I did catch Latte munching on it when I left it in the cage). I think maybe I have all treats because there aren't any of the blocks of food that I read are useful for rats' nutrition. If all their food is treats right now, then no wonder I can't find anything to reward them with. They're going to be a little sad when my wife brings in the rat pellets.

Anyway, time to go searching through the forum. Looks nice and active here, so I am sure I'll find some good advice in being a new parent. Thanks for having me.
 

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I'm still new to rats, and have had them for the past few months now. It's been quite a journey with some unexpected twists and turns in my case. But it's worth it when the rats warm up to you more and their beady eyes light up when you come home. I've liked this forum better than other places online where people discuss rats, because it seems like less judgmental of a place. Welcome!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm still new to rats, and have had them for the past few months now. It's been quite a journey with some unexpected twists and turns in my case. But it's worth it when the rats warm up to you more and their beady eyes light up when you come home. I've liked this forum better than other places online where people discuss rats, because it seems like less judgmental of a place. Welcome!
Thanks, ponderosa. This article (http://www.shadowrat.com/rats/handling.html) has given me an idea of what made my Chloe pee in panic. When I reach to grab the rat, I've ended up grabbing her by her haunches. I'm sure that's not comfortable, and it may have even caused some pressure on her bladder. So it's something we both need to work on. It may actually be more me. I'm going to incorporate the grab technique until she's ready to come to my hand. So far, neither one is particularly eager about jumping into my hand. It hasn't even been 24 hours with the girls, so I understand this will take some time. I plan to watch a couple episodes of Parks and Rec today while keeping a rat curled up against me.

It was fun when I came into the room this morning and saw Latte immediately come to the bars to look at me. Chloe will come around, I'm sure.
 

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I'm also sure Chloe will come around, especially since they'd already had some socializing before you brought them home and right now they're probably just dealing with the initial shock of a new home. I had to have a crash course in rat handling too, since I hadn't had rodents since I was a kid and they are much more violently squirmy than my childhood hamsters, which I remember as being like furry lumps of unthinking dough. That page definitely is helpful. Even my shyest rat, who's taken a good month+ to come around, is now looking at us voluntarily now! Most of my rats came from a feeder bin and were terrified of us for weeks after coming home. It was tough getting them socialized and for a long time they would hide instead of walking to us, so we needed to grab them to get them out of the cage. They would run from our hands. A couple of them are still running when it comes time to remove them from the cage, even though much of their fear has subsided and one of them seems to think of the running as a (very annoying) game now! The one who wasn't sold as a feeder loves people and will walk into your hands most easily, but she was pretty scared and doing a lot of crying on the first day before she settled in.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Wow, I looked at the feeder rats at one store. It was tempting because they were cheaper than the socialized rats, but my wife and I agreed that as newbies we would benefit from having socialized rats. Maybe down the line when we can upgrade our cage we can consider baby feeder rats, though I may lean more toward rescue rats.

We considered a hamster as a pet, but we ruled it out after some research. My memory of a hamster biting me and literally hanging off my finger, driving those teeth even deeper into my flesh, confirms the general consensus that hamsters can be pretty bitey. I also remember holding my finger under cold running water for at least 10 minutes while waiting for the bleeding to subside. I'm so glad that rats generally don't bite. Even the feeder rats we looked at would not bite when we tried to pick one up; they just squirmed away. Now that I have experience with my rats, I think I could probably pick up a feeder rat now. Socializing is a different story.

Amazing what difference a day can make. Latte is now much more inquisitive. Chloe seems a bit lethargic. I just hope she's not overwhelmed by the change. She's 10 weeks old, and she may have spent all her life at the pet store. This change may be freaking her out a bit. Latte is only 6 weeks old, so she's probably already forgotten her former home. Also now I'm a little worried that maybe Chloe has just given up after I did some forced socialization with her a couple of times. I'd feel really bad if I scarred her.

So far, nobody's moving toward the hand. I have learned that Latte likes fresh raspberries. I will try to condition her to go to the hand over the next week. Chloe doesn't seem to care about the raspberry. Her diet may be making her miserable, as there was no nutritious food in the starter kit. I filled the bowl with Fiesta mix, which is not built for maximum nutrition, according to the packaging. Now that I have vitamin blocks in there, they can have a steady and stable diet. I shouldn't expect miracles in the first day, should I?

I'm off work the rest of the year, so I have a lot of time to spend with the ratties.
 

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My fiance has had rats before, and he had always bought feeders, and managed to get them warmed up to him. So I'm glad I'm at least living with someone who had handled rats before. If I was on my own, I would have hesitated about the skittish feeders, even though some pet store non-feeder rats have also been mishandled or not socialized as babies, depending on where you shop. I think in our case, we got lucky with the PetSmart rat, because the staff had gotten her partly socialized before we brought her home.

Oh wow, that hamster bite sounds like it was terrifying! I was bitten by one of my hamsters as a kid and those teeth crunched in pretty deep, but sadly, I was being a dumb kid and mishandling the hamster, so I had it coming. And other than that, they weren't biters... I guess I got lucky. However, I was reading recently about how hamsters actually have a high bite risk! It would make me think twice about getting my kid a hamster if I had kids. I'm glad that rats are supposed to have a lower bite risk. My rats have done some exploratory nipping and mouthing. My most fearful rat was nipping for a while out of fear (not hard or breaking the skin), but he stopped as he got less fearful, thankfully. The only time one of our rats bit hard enough to break the skin was because he was terrified, as his foot got stuck in the cage and he was probably convinced he was going to die and my fiance was holding him to release his foot. I'm pretty sure he was biting only because he was in a panic, because that's the only time it happened. Afterward, he got very cuddly and grateful.

It probably will take them more than a day to adjust to the change, but they will adjust. I don't think forced socialization is likely to permanently scar or traumatize a rat. With proper love and attention, they usually bounce back from things that frighten them, even if it takes a few days or so. I've had to help our rats bounce back from "Oh no, what's that big fuzzy thing? They have a cat!!" scares a few times. I've also found that it helps to talk to the rats and spend a lot of time hanging out in the same room as their cage. As they see you and hear your voice, they gradually come over more to check you out.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Good stories. I am a little concerned with our Chloe, as she is so lethargic now. She doesn't even scamper. She slowly walks around. Not sure if maybe she's in discomfort. When I pull her out, she whimpers a lot and seems unhappy. My wife is holding her now, and now Chloe is licking her. That's a good sign. My wife has the special touch (and the reason why she fell in love with Latte at the store). She holds the rat just right. We think Chloe might just need a hidey hole. She's bigger than Latte, so the hovel we have for her might not be enough.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
We just came to the realization that when we bought Chloe and Latte, they were both in the same cage with another rat the same age as Chloe--possibly from the same litter. Maybe Chloe is mourning the loss of her cagemate. Latte is younger than Chloe, so Chloe may not be bonding as well with her.
 

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Hmm, not to scare you, but if she's acting increasingly lethargic, could she be hurting or ill? Is she having any other symptoms, such as breathing issues?
 

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Hmm, not to scare you, but if she's acting increasingly lethargic, could she be hurting or ill? Is she having any other symptoms, such as breathing issues?
Well, as a first-time owner, the scare was already there. I've been reading about respiratory issues. The symptoms seem to be there. There was a clicking noise when she breathed. She sneezed a lot. She had a fair amount of reddish discharge when she sneezed. What was really alarming was that when she was on the table before, she'd explore the edge and see how far down it was and turn away. Today she slumped on the table and pivoted toward the edge. She didn't even stop; she just fell right off. Fortunately, I was watching her, and I caught her immediately, but her disregard for her own safety concerned me.

The store I got her at has a 7-day guarantee. They let me bring her in so they could see how she was doing. They agreed that she was very sluggish for a rat. She was much more active 2 days ago when I left the store with her. They agreed to hang onto her and nurse her. I thought it best that the experts treat her. Also, they mentioned putting her in a cage away from other rats, which was not an option for our single-cage home. I was worried about Latte being alone, so they let me bring her a buddy rat. Although now we're realizing the danger (as I suspected) that we're bonding with the new rat. Even if Chloe gets better, I don't know that we can return Penumbra. I guess we'll make that decision when the call comes. It may be that Chloe succumbs to the illness. I hope not; she's a sweet rat.
 

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Hey! I'm new to rat ownership too :) You're girls Chloe and Latte sound lovely!

Sorry to read that Chloe is feeling unwell, hope she gets better soon. My little rat, Squiggle, was diagnosed with upper respiratory disease yesterday and has been given a 2 week course of medicine. She's only 6/7 weeks old and so tiny :(

Hopefully you can work something out and be able to keep Latte, Chloe and Penumbra too!! ;D
 

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I'm so sorry to hear that Chloe got so sick! It sounds like it may be an upper respiratory illness. I hope that they are able to nurse her back to health and she gets all better, and that you are able to work out an arrangement to keep them!
 

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Well, I went into the shop to get more check sticks for Latte and Penumbra. I was told that poor Chloe passed last night. It's true; those respiratory illnesses can spiral out of control. Poor girl.

So obviously now I have Penumbra for life.

I feel like I've shirked my duty by not being there for Chloe as she died. As a new owner, I don't know how I would have reacted to having Chloe die less than 3 days of bringing her home. I'd wonder if I did anything wrong in caring for her. But the girls at the pet store couldn't save her either, so that makes me feel not quite as bad. And Latte was spared a rat death for now. I know this will have to happen for me eventually, but I hope to get a bit more experience under my belt.
 

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Oh no! I'm so sorry to hear that Chloe passed away! Try not to beat yourself up for what happened to her. It sounds like it was escalating really quickly, making it hard to treat.
 

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Howdy, I'm new as well and reading other's intro posts... I'm so sorry to hear about little Chloe. :(
 

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My condolences about Chloe, man.
If I'm following this correctly though, you only had her for three days?
If so, there's no way you're even a tad bit responsible for this.
There's no point in beating yourself up over this,
As I've heard that these URI's can get out of hand faster than you could even blink.
I'm glad that you made an active attempt to take her of her,
But take it easy from now, you've still got Latte to look after,
And stress isn't good for pet owners, and in turn, the pets themselves.
Best of luck, man.
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Thanks for the kind words. I do feel better, especially knowing that Chloe was in the hands of more experienced folks than me, and they couldn't bring her back. I wish I could have seen her again, but it's for the best I didn't. I was saddened by the last moments I had with her as it was. It is really telling when I can put her in a box and not even seal the top because I wasn't worried about her climbing out. There's no way I could have kept her in a box when I took her home the first time.

But we have a happy family now. The loaner rat is now ours, and her name is Penumbra. She and Latte have been having a blast. They chase each other and wrestle. I had to verify on here that I had nothing to worry about. They are so small and so quick that every attack looks brutal. But one pins the other until there's a squeak, and they're all good. I even got to finger wrestle them a little bit. I'm really looking forward to seeing these two grow up. They're only 5 and 6 weeks right now, and they're really sweet.

Now if I can just get Penumbra to stop pooping on me. Latte is really good about waiting until she's back in the cage. Penny still has to learn; she's a week younger than Latte after all. But at least Penumbra doesn't pee on me.

And considering how germaphobic I can be, I must say that I'm shocked at how little I freak out when I get poop on me. How pet ownership has changed me.
 
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