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I have just gotten a rat from someone who wanted one, but learned they couldn't keep one. While I have nothing against rats, I have never considered getting one, and so have never learned how to care for one. But now that I do have one, I would like to know what is safe to do with them.
1. What should I feed it? I have been told dog food, fruit, canned veggies, and rat food bought from a store. What is safest for the rat?
2. Can they have baths? My rat is an albino, but it's starting to look a little yellow....
3. Is there any animal I should by no means let her around? I have birds, dogs, cats, rabbits, a snake, iguana, frog, fish, and she's animal number 19 in my house.
4. Is there anything I should/shouldn't put in her cage? Right now, she has a wheel, a bowl of food, a water bottle, and mulch.
I have had pets all my life. I have had everything from ten kittens and two mothers to a goat for a housepet. I have NEVER had a rat. So, please, please, is there anything I need to know?
 

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1. There's a sticky in the "rat health" part of the forum about what to feed them. I get my rats Nutro Natural Choice Lite, plus give them a Suebees mix.
2. Yes, they can have baths- I use puppy shampoo on them. It stresses them out if you bath them too often, though. Rats groom themselves, so baths really aren't needed a whole lot.
3. I would use caution in introducing her to other animals- it could result in either animal getting hurt.
4. What do you mean by "mulch"? The kinds of bedding that are okay for rats are Carefresh, Aspen, and Yesterday's News (to name a few). I would give her a hammock or two, some tunnels, a nesting box (tissue boxes work well as temporary nesting boxes), and extra levels in her cage (if she doesn't have them already).

Also, rats are VERY social animals- she needs another female rat, or she'll get depressed.

Hope the info helps!
 

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Welcome to the rat world!

1. Excellent diet topic stickied at the top of the Health section. Also, this page of my Rat Info Packet: http://www.petinfopackets.com/rats/ratfeeding.html

2. Rats typically don't require baths but they can be given them. Not all rats take to baths well (plenty are scared) plus bathing too much depletes the natural oils in their coats and can cause dry skin and such. You'll want to use something gentle if you use shampoo like baby shampoo or a kitten or puppy shampoo and avoid the head with the shampoo and water so none gets in the eyes or ears.

3. Rats are omnivores and opportunistic predators. Anything bigger than them has the potential to harm them, and they have the potential to harm anything smaller. I'd avoid interaction with anything but other rats.

4. You'll want to avoid any pine or cedar bedding as they are both harmful. You'll also want to make sure the wheel is solid or at least grated and not open runged/open wire so there aren't any feet or tail injuries. What exactly do you mean by mulch?


I'd like to second the call for a female cagemate for her. Rats are extremely social and should be kept in same sex pairs or groups. I recommend looking into a reputable rescue or breeder for a friend for her.

Rescues: http://www.petinfopackets.com/rats/ratinfopacket.html#rescues

Breeders: http://www.petinfopackets.com/rats/ratinfopacket.html#breeders


You'll definitely want to quarantine any new rats before introducing them to her.

Quarantine: http://www.petinfopackets.com/rats/rathealth.html#quarantine


And then here's some information on properly introducing new rats to each other:

http://ratguide.com/care/behavior/introducing_rats.php
http://www.ratfanclub.org/newrat.html
http://www.ratpalace.com/rat-articles/rat-introductions.php


Rats do best in large, multi-level wire cages and generally shouldn't be kept in aquariums. You'll need a good small animal/exotics vet as well. One good tip, which does well for any animal really, is to save up an emergency vet care fund to fall back on in case someone gets sick or hurt during hard times.

You can have a look for some recommended rat vets near you here: http://www.petinfopackets.com/rats/rathealth.html#vetlists


Good luck with your new girly :)
 
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