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Hello! I'm new to the world of rat ownership, but for ages now I've wanted one. Now, I have a couple rat-related questions that I've had a hard time finding answers to. I'm sure they'll be perfectly obvious to you experienced people, but I guess they're just not the sort of thing people put in their 'Guides to Rat Ownership' essays.

Okay! I'm 18 and I've never really done anything 'by myself' - It's important to me that I take care of my rats on my own, you know? That said, money is obviously an issue for me (On top of things, I have to save up for a new Wacom Tablet. Ugh, 450 US dollars ._.) and I was wondering -on average- how much does it cost for you to take care of your rats say, monthly? Food, bedding, toys, stuff like that. How much did it cost for you to buy your rats and make their home?

Does the cost and difficulty of caring for rats rise substantially the more you have? I know that you're best off keeping them in pairs or groups (and I plan to get at least two) but from the looks of it most people around here have three or four, if not more. Would they be considerably happier in a larger group? Should a newbie like me even attempt more then two rats at first, or would I be better off waiting a while to buy more?

Eep! I hope these questions haven't been asked a million times >.< Thank you for any help you can offer me!

-Ducky
 

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Re: No Rats as of Yet, but Questions from a Potencial Buyer

My rats costed $180 USD total for everything, but I got a lot of stuff at the same time. And I bought them a big cage for just two girls so... yeah. I spoil them.
Anywho, bedding, toys food and other random things usually costs me about $20-30 a month for two rats. I have no idea how much it costs for others who have more or the same amount of rats as me, but I think it's pretty good compared to the two dogs my family owns. (They get good food XD)

It's not hard for me to care for them. I feed them twice a day and take them out and let them ride aorund in my jacket anywhere from 2-8 hours a day. (Most of that is when I'm watching TV or playing Halo)

Even before I had rats I wanted more (sounds really stupid ><) and now that I have them I really want more. My cage can hold up to 5-6 rats if I use the space wisely, and I've been on the lookout for a PEW in my area.
But I don't want to make it seem like I just want more. I've really become attached to my girls in the month + a few days that I've had them, and I'm not sure what they'd think if I added another rat XD

(Ooooh, a Wacom? I've got one! Not the big bucks kind though. I have a Bamboo Fun and I really really like it! They all come with the same image programs, or I think they do. The one you are looking at has more pens/tips and buttons I guess. Good luck on getting one though!)
 

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Re: No Rats as of Yet, but Questions from a Potencial Buyer

For me, (I have 17) on average food costs me £10 per month ($20USD approx) but I do get it very cheap and order through my vets. It will depend what food you buy, but for two rats it'll take them a while to eat what food you do have. Supplements, eg, veggies, treats etc will be however much you want to spend on them, I guess.

Bedding, I use towels and fleece as bedding. It's cheaper, easier to clean, doesn't smell as much and is reusable. I just whack the load in my washing machine and reuse it.

Cage - I don't know how much a cage will cost over there, but it's reccommended going bigger first (give your little ones a little palace) then if you are plagued with GGMR then you can just add (after QT) to the existing cage, rather than buying a new big one.

Toys are a tricky one - you can buy a much as you want, but you can make so much out of things around the house. Plant pots? Hang it from the top of the cage and voila! Hanging bed. Cut up a towel/fleece and it can be a hammock. Toilet rolls - chew toys. Boxs - houses. etc. I find toys for small animals SUPER expensive, so I try to make as many as I can, unless I really want to treat them.

The more rats you have, I wouldn't say the cost rises significantly to look after them (as generally you would put them in the existing cage all being well and all they will require is extra food per rat) but what you might find is the more rats you have, the more the likelihood of you needing to visit the vet. You will need to make sure you have the finances/savings to afford emergency vet bills, or ongoing treatment if necessary. For example - I've got an 'emergency rat fund' (thank god) and christmas eve one of my rats was rushed into the vets for an emergency eye removal - it cost +£500 ($1000 USD) which I had to pay for there and then. It's an extreme example, but these things can happen and it's important to be prepared :)

In my opinion, get two/three first. Learn with them and when you feel comfortable with them, if you want more then get more.

Good luck! :)
 

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Re: No Rats as of Yet, but Questions from a Potencial Buyer

I started out with two rats and spent ~$130 the first go around--including the two rats, a cage, first month's bedding, first month's food, some toys, a house, a water bottle--pretty much everything for the first month.
Since then, I've bought a second cage ($40 from walmart) that I've combined with the first cage to make a nice size cage (definately go bigger than you think), a bigger house and three more rats (one died[poor thing had a heart attack], so I bought a new one--then a few weeks later I decided to buy two more--and one of those died).
On average, I probably spend ~$12/month on bedding, ~$8/month on dry food, and ~$10/month on fresh fruits/veggies and ~$4/month on yoggies :-D. I've found that the cost from 2 to 3 was only $5-10 a month more. Plus the odd toy here and there--most are homemade.
I also had an incident where one of my rats got it's tail degloved which was a $90 vet bill.
 

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Re: No Rats as of Yet, but Questions from a Potencial Buyer

the most important thing to get above all else is to make sure you have a vet can/fund. you never want to go through the pain of not being able to afford treatment and knowing that your rat can't wait any longer. as you don't need to use this everyday and is only meant for vet visits though, it does not take long to stash away a good chunk of change, try not to let it get below $400 at the very least. keeping it higher is always best. if you budget to put money it every pay then this part will be easy to do once you get started with it.

starting out costs are always the most expensive. but you can make it cheaply as well. ferret cages are very expensive but wonderfully roomy. cat cages can have the same amount of space for the fraction of the cost. grotto cages can also be made or franken cages cna be cheap as well if you keep your eye on the classifieds. i hear there are a few places online where people offer old cages for free as well. i think i heard of freecycle doing this and sometimes craiglist, i've never used them myself though so you will want to check that out.

setting yourself up with liners if you want to go that route (probably the easiest way to keep a large cage clean) can be expensive if you buy them from someone or are picky about the fabric colors used. but if you can make it yourself and are ok with bargin bin fleece or flannel it can be quite cheap. i spent $30 for some fabric and if i had the time and skill could make about 6 set of liners for my huge cage (can hold 11-12 rats if the space is used wisely).

once you get that set up and put aside maintence is a breeze. i use litter pans and liners for my cage. the litter i use is yesterdays news pelleted cat litter-you can get 30lbs bag for $13 CDN. with a bunny using it too and my 11 rats that bag lasts me 2 and half months, maybe a little more, i don't keep track of it that much. i use dog food supplemented with fresh foods for their diet. i get the big 28kg bag of dog food, i bought that bag about 3 months ago and its not even half way through yet.

the price to get the rats was between free and $100 after a neuter.
 

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Re: No Rats as of Yet, but Questions from a Potencial Buyer

I recently bought 2 girls for x-mas. over all it costed about 150-200 us doller
it dependes on how many you buy sense your just starting i would start off with two. true it dose make them happier with more it is more work
and its much harder to take care of . trust me thise are my 8ths

it may cost a bit but they are soo much fun and worth every cent. :D

tips

-try not to buy any kaytee things (inculding beding) ask about it in the rat helth topic forum.

-you could buy an aquarium topers for a 20 galon fish tank ( or 10 but that is to small).
 

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Re: No Rats as of Yet, but Questions from a Potencial Buyer

I got a Martin's cage and have done a bunch of things to add on to it. The cage alone was a little over $100, and I think with the extra stuff I bought for it, and plan to buy (fleece blanket, colorful tent, tube, and ladder for the "rainbow level", wooden house for the "cabin level", hammocks, bedding for the bottom of the cage and litter for the poo-poo box) I'm guessing the grand total for all those accessories will be another $80 to $100. If the accessories are around $80, then surely the rats themselves will bump it up to $100. I think I'm taking the expensive route though. I don't like money very much.. XD

You could check on Craigslist too, for a good cage. Only a few weeks after buying my cage, I found someone selling the exact same cage for only $50! It might take a while for someone to put a good cage up for sale, but if you're willing to wait you could probably save a lot in the cage area.

I don't have my rats yet, so I don't know how much they're going to cost per month, but that's ok. Everyone else here has rats and has good information. I'm only going to get two as well. If rats didn't NEED company then I would only get one, but they do, so two it is. :)
 

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Re: No Rats as of Yet, but Questions from a Potencial Buyer

Hello! =D
My two ratlings + cages ( I bought one, and it quickly got too small, so I bought a much bigger one from craigslist) + ingredients for suebees mix (I'm thinking about switching to lab blocks) + water bottle + treats + toys + aspen bedding (before I switched to towels) cost around $150 Canadian.
Per month, I only spend around $10 or so because their food lasts a long time and I can get toys for free from around my house.
The key thing is to get the biggest cage you can find and just use your creativity for toys and the home decor! ;]
 

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Re: No Rats as of Yet, but Questions from a Potencial Buyer

The cost to care for a couple of rats on a month-by-month basis is going to vary alot. It will depend on what supplies you buy, in what quantity, from where, etc. Personally, I find more rats actually cost LESS to care for than a couple rats. The reason for this: I buy everything in bulk, which costs less than buying smaller quantities. I also rarely buy my supplies from retail (and retail marks up the price at least 200% from wholesale, that's not taking into account how much wholesale is marked up, and so on back to the producer. i don't buy directly from producers, but I do buy a couple steps back from retail, which saves me money). This is of course disregarding vet bills.

Your biggest costs will be "start up" and "vet bills". Start setting aside money in an emergency vet fund. Depending on where you live and vets in your area, vets may not cost a lot, or they might cost a small fortune. The start up costs are most expensive because you are starting from nothing. If you anticipate getting rats in the future, you can do one of two things: start saving money now, or buy supplies here and there. The cage will be the most expensive. Toys, bedding, food, food and water bowls and bottles, and other accessories will add to the cost, but still be significantly less than the cage.

So to finally answer your question with numbers, the only thing I really need to pay for on a monthly basis is food and bedding. For about 17 rats, this costs me about $30-50 a month. Assuming everything breaks down so easily, that is about $1.76-2.94 per rat per month. In the last year I have only had to take two rats to the vet, which cost me about $60 for the office fee and antibiotics.
 

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Re: No Rats as of Yet, but Questions from a Potencial Buyer

As you can see from what everyone is saying the cost varies from one situation to another. I would make the following recommendations since you are brand new to rats.

Adopt two (only two) males. Health risks are lower for in-tact males (with testicles) than in-tact females.

Don't invest a lot of money in a crappy cage (and there are a lot of EXPENSIVE crappy cages out there). If you have the room get a the ferret nation 141 (here's a link with only $6 shipping http://www.ferret.com/ItemDetail.aspx?ItemNo=630303) it's $113 + $7 $120.00 believe it or not that's a very reasonable price considering you can pay $80 at petco for a cage that really isn't appropriate for more than one rat.

As others have said have a backup vet fun of at least $400 (more if you want more rats). I had to pay over $400 last month in vet bills for only THREE rats. I have more but only three were sick/hurt. This emphasizes this point
the more rats you have, the more the likelihood of you needing to visit the vet.
you need to count on the fact that all the rats you have might, at one point, all need to go to the vet at the same time.

Use fabric bedding to cut cost. I'd recommend going to Christmas Tree Shops, and picking up two or three of their fleece blankets. They are big and a bargain. I use them in my cage. You can buy 4 for around $20 (depending on the sales).

Buy a medium size bag of nutro natural lite dog food. around $15 I think, and it should last a few months for two ratties. Plan on making some suebee's mix. Let's say $15 per month for that (for two ratties maybe less)

Go to the dollar store and spend between $20-$30 for toys. There are lots of ideas on this site for homemade toys as well so this cost may be cut entirely.

HOW MUCH SO FAR?

rats adoption fee $20??
Cage and shipping $120
Vet fund $400
Fabric bedding $20 (until it's all chewed up)
Food dog/suebee's $30
Toys $20

that leaves us with a grand total of $610 to start the whole process, and and additional $30-$40 per month depending on how thrifty you are!

One last thing. If you really want females....

A spay can cost between $75-$300 depending on the vet but unless you're from a really small town count on around $100 for a spay. If you really want to get females get them spayed!!!!!!!! I had to pay over $200 for a visit and tumor removal, and it may come back in the future. I'm trying to figure out a way to get my females spayed but I have 6. These are my first rats, and I have spent a lot of unnecessary money. I bought three cages before I bought my FN, and basically just trying things out. Different foods, toys, and so on! I really believe males are the way to go for you but hey I can only recommend things based on my personal experience. You'll find loads of that here! :) You're def on the right track by asking prior to adopting! Congrats!!!
 

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Re: No Rats as of Yet, but Questions from a Potencial Buyer

My best advice is to buy the right cage the first time. We went through two cages before the third worked out... that's well over 70+ dollars that isn't really used anymore.
 
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