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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all! Yesterday I adopted my first pet rat. I don't bring him home until Friday, though. I want to make sure I know as much as possible about him before I bring him home. A little background story on how he came to be mine...I recently started working at Petco as a dog trainer. About a month ago we got in a baby male rat who was "wobbling" his head. They've had him at the vet twice in the last month and he's been on 2 different meds to rule out ear infection and some other disease(I forgot the name) with no improvement. The vet recommended humane euthanasia since he suspected a neurological issue and is "unadoptable". Well my boss was delighted to hear that I wanted to take him home to join our family of misfits. Since he's my pet now, I've been allowed to take him out and play with him. The more I interact with him, the more I'm starting to think he may not have a neurological issue, but may actually be blind and deaf(he's for sure deaf. He has no startle reflex to any noise at all). He's a total sweetheart and still likes to play, explore, and snuggle. Whatever his issue is, he doesn't seem to suffer much from it. So yeah...I know NOTHING about having a pet rat. I never had any interest in having one until now. The more I learn the more I wonder why I never wanted one. So anything you can all tell me will be appreciated. No matter how trivial or routine you may think it is, there's a good chance I don't know. I have kept mice, guinnea pigs, dogs, cats, and fish...so if anything carries over species to species, let me know. Can't wait to hear from you!
 

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hello welcome to the forum :)

Well just like guinea pigs & (female) mice, rats need to be kept in groups. They are highly social. If you could find a very calm rat to be his friend that would probably be lovely. I think with his issues you might need to be careful choosing the right friend for him though.

That is nice of u to take him.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
It's worth mentioning that I have no intention on spending a small fortune on a cage(and I LOVE to reuse stuff!), so I plan to reporpose something I have here to make a home. I have 2 ideas so far:

Taking an old armoire I have(the usual 2 drawers on bottom, doors on top style) and turning it into a 2 level cage on top and storage on bottom. Since he has issues with not seeming to know where he's going, I would connect the levels with a PVC tunnel. I would use tile for the flooring and attach a piece of plywood to the back to reinforce the back wall. I assume I'll have to cut out the centers of the doors and attach chicken wire. I read somewhere that I could add a litterbox in the top drawer with a hole cut that they can use, but do rats actually use a litterbox??

Second idea is to use a medium size wire dog crate wrapped with chicken wire(since I think the wires are too far apart). I would also make it 2 level. For that I would attach brackets and place an extra kennel pan I have that fits the same kennel on the brackets. Then cut a hole in it and make a PVC tunnel to the first level. In both cases I plan to add a hammock that's low to the floor, a tissue box and some stuff to tear up for a nest, a grass teepee, and maybe a hay basket(along with tons of toys...he LOVES toys!)

Any advice on either?
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Yes I considered a friend for him, but I wanted to ask you all before I did. I worried about him getting picked on by another rat because of his issues, and because he's been alone for the last month while he's been on meds.
 

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As for cages, the main thing to keep in mind is ventilation as rats have very sensitive respiratory systems. The dog crate idea is preferable for this reason.

Perhaps, for a friend, an older rat might be best as they tend to be more laid back. Younger rats like to play fight which might be an issue for your little guy as he could become startled and possibly injured. An older rat is more likely to just lay around and cuddle with him. You could look in local rescues, also sometimes people will rehome an older rat if his cagemate has passed on and they're not interested in getting any more so look on local sites. I live in England but I think people rehome animals through Craigslist and similar websites.

As for general rat care and knowledge; free ranging and frequent handling is an important part of keeping rats as they're highly social and intelligent. Rats can be litter trained, it's actually fairly simple and makes cage cleaning and free ranging a lot easier. Health wise, look out for sneezing, strained breathing and/or a red discharge from the eyes and nose as these are symptoms of respiratory infection. Stay away from dusty bedding material, I use fleece and paper based cat litter.

Good luck with your new addition, I hope everything works out well for you both.
 

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Welcome and congratulations on your little boy!

As moonkissed suggested, a companion for your rattie is a must. I adopted a lonely rat a while ago and she had never had a friend in her whole life and I had no idea how much more interesting she would get until I took in 3 baby lab rats and introduced them to her. Now she is all snuggles and games and loves to make nests to keep her new friends warm at night. She has her hands full rearranging the cage every day and seems a hundred times more active and happy than before. After all, you can't be there 24 hs a day for him unlike another rat.

I think that you may have read these things before, but since you asked for it I'll point a few things and if you need further explanation just ask :)


  • Rats need to live at least in same sex pairs.
  • They don't do well on glass tanks due to the ammonia build up, so you should get a proper-sized cage to house at least 2 rats. Keep in mind that they love to climb so the cage should have a few levels. If he's blind, though, maybe you should be careful with high shelves.
  • Pine and cedar beddings contain phenols, which irritate their lungs. For bedding you can use fleece, corn cob, Yesterday's News, etc.
  • They need at least a couple of hours everyday of time outside the cage to play and free-roam. Look up into rat-proof a room for safety.
  • Their diet consists of 80% lab blocks (higher protein while they are still growing),15 % fruits and veggies and 5% treats.
  • There are certain things that are dangerous to them: raw beans and peanuts (roasted peanuts are ok as an occasional treat), raw onions, avocado seeds and skins (the flesh is ok, but a little too high in fat), dairy products (they love yoghurt) and a few more. You should check that.
  • I've read that raw meat makes the more prone to freaking cannibalism.
  • They can't burp or vomit, so they have a risk of choking: avoid sticky foods such as peanut butter (spread very thin so they lick it is ok) or mashed bananas and carbonated drinks.
  • They love to be mentally stimulated. They enjoy toys very much (or mine do), toilet paper rolls, cardboard boxes, tug ropes, paper sheets to shread, etc.
  • They don't stand the heat very well, and can actually overheat depending on the weather. You want to keep them in a cool room.
  • They all carry Mycoplasma in their lungs and some don't get sick of it until they are old but you still want always keep an eye on the sneezes. A few day of sneezes when they get to your home is normal but if you see any discharge from the nose or the eyes, go see a vet. Check their breathing to make sure there's no wheezing or clicking sounds.
  • They can be litter trained!Though not effective as in cats, it'll help you keep the cage cleaner.
I can not think of anything else right now because I'm really tired and should be sleeping but I think that's pretty much it.

Lots of hugs to your boy!
 

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Hi I'm new here. :) He could be deaf/blind... one of mine is albino and is deaf and I am pretty sure partially blind... she doesn't wobble her head so much as sway back and forth (she's gauging what she's seeing I guess). Hope the vet can tell you what's wrong... you should get your rat a friend too.. they are social animals and need to be in pairs. ^_^
 

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Some do like homemade cages out of dressers or cabinets. I am not a fan at all. In my mind the wood would get chewed & soaked in urine oh so quickly turning it into a disgusting smelly mess. And I can't see how it could be kept as well cleaned.

I think if he has issues or is deaf/blind a single floor cage may be best so he doesn't fall or become injured.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Thank you!

Thank you all for the wonderful input! I think I've decided to go with using the dog kennel. Any ideas other than chicken wire to make the grates smaller? And I'm for sure getting him a friend. I'm a little freaked out though. I think I have paranoid mommy syndrome. I wouldn't begin to know what to do if my rats got into a fight, and even worse, the thought of my baby being hurt! I'm bonding more with him because I've been spending all my time with him at work and he's starting to get comfortable with me. I can't believe I never realized how awesome rats are! Anyway, the 3 male babies at work all seem sweet, but the adult males didn't welcome the new ones, which is why they're separated. How do I do intros? And how do I pick the right one? I heard adult males don't get along, is there any truth to that?
 

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Hey i'm a new rat mommy myself :) recently came up with a hammock idea aswel if anyones interested, just get an old bra sew the base of the cups together and hang from cage using one or both of the straps sewn onto the top, makes a great free hammock swing x
 
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