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Hi all,
So before I get comments about only owning one, let me explain. I had 2 rats. Toui was my first rat ever, I bought him and felt so bad about only having one that I rushed out 2 days later and got him a friend (Stuart). This was about 2 or 2 and a half years ago. Toui passed away a few months ago. I would guess he almost 3. He was my best boy; a super personality. He was cage trained to not go potty outside the cage and learned to ride on my shoulder (both of which Stuart never really grasped). With that being said, I am thinking I do not want to commit to another rat right now. With school, and working 4 jobs, my time is very limited and signing up for a new at least 2 or 3 year commitment is not something I would jump into given that I will be graduating college soon. So alas, Stuart (who is probably around 2-2.5) is living solo right now.

If I decide by some swing of hear to get a new one, that solves my problem. But let's assume I don't. What is the best way to keep Stuart's life enriched? I let him have playtime in the bathroom where I set up his playhouse that I built out of cardboard about a year ago. And when in close supervision, I let him roam the basement (I have cats so I have to watch VERY closely when this happens). I am going tonight to get a new cage. The shelves in the old one got taken out and he no longer wants to climb the sides. Hopefully this way, he will have more levels so that he can climb and play some more rather than sleep in his house all day and night.

What else would you guys suggest? I plan on making him a digging box as well. Any other ideas to make him feel not so down in the dumps??
 

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Spend as much of the day with him as you can. Take him with you as often as you can, even in public. Living alone isn't fun for a rat, so you want him to be alone as little as possible
 

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What ksaxton said. They like to live in groups, so if alone you are his group. You just want to spend as much time as you can. If you are doing homework, if you can make a place on your desk for him, do it. When getting ready, bring him in the bathroom with you. Make spaces for him that are with you, in all the places that you do things-watching tv, looking at internet, ect. Just try and keep him with you as much as you can.

He's an older boy, and I've been in your situation before. it can be a really good bonding time between you and him with a little effort.
 

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What ksaxton and gotchea said :) Right now I have a lone rat as Shakespeare doesnt get along with any rats. We tried several immersions but he never took to any rat and is highly aggressive twards the boys. His cage is right next to my boys but they can bite or grab eachother. He gets like 8 hours a day as someone is always home but I still feel bad. Have you tried a sock buddy? Shakespeare loves his. Its a new pair of socks folded over eachother and he carries it everywhere with him and sleeps with it.
 

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First I'm so sorry to hear about Toui. Please accept my deepest condolences. Three years is a long time for a rat, so you must have taken great care of him and he must have been very happy with you.

As Stuart is older, he's gong to sleep more and that will help, but he's going to require lots of human companionship. When Fuzzy Rat died Amelia vanished into the woodwork and clutter... You would think she would have wanted more attention, but rather she withdrew. We tried giving her more attention and making her a shoulder rat, but that pretty much drove her to a complete nervous breakdown. She was Fuzzy Rat's pet rat and as such she was second string and tactical support. She never liked the spot light or travel and only came along reluctantly. She let Fuzzy Rat be the family rat and go on adventures and do meet and greets and be larger than life, and she was quite happy to snuggle with and preen Fuzzy Rat when the excitement was over. After Fuzzy Rat passed away, she was depressed and boosting her up into the lime light was a really terrible idea... and she really didn't adapt to lots of human attention either.. We adopted her as a neglected rat and she just wasn't used to too much human affection. We wound up adopting Max and after a somewhat bloody intro, they got along and it seemed like having another rat around helped Amelia, even if they avoided each other more than they played together. What was odd was that Max became very withdrawn when Amelia passed away even though they were never best friends...

So if you can step Stuart up to your family rat and you can spend lots of time with him, because he's older and sleeps a lot that will work. And it is doable. He may become withdrawn but you can make is life better by being there for him. It might be only be for a matter of months or even weeks at his age...

I'm pretty sure some might be surprised by this comment... but you might find another very nice well socialized older rat weebling his last lap at a rescue or shelter, if there is one nearby. Normally I think it's hard for a family to adopt a rat and bond with him and go through intros and of course take the risks of introducing mites or other issues to your home for a rat that's already in the checkout line. But I suppose it's better to have two older gentlemen sharing their golden months together than to have one alone... This can work if you are very selective and find the right rat. With Fuzzy Rat it was easier, as a true shoulder rat we could take her along to meet potential roommates. She would sniff the new rat... sometimes her hair would stand on end, other time's she'd just snort and run back up my arm, once she actually attacked a rat in a pet shop, but when she met Amelia, she sniffed her and ran up my arm and started licking my face, which mean "Yes, please and thank you" in her vocabulary interchangeably. Intro's when we got the rats home took under 5 minutes. They chased each other around for about two minutes, boxed for one the Fuzzy Rat turned broadside in front of Amelia, who tapped her with one paw and Fuzzy Rat rolled over onto her back and Amelia groomed her... done deal the rats were playing and Amelia was following Fuzzy Rat around like a puppy after that.

The right older friend for Stuart would be about the nicest way for him to spend his last days, but if you are taking time away from rats, sooner or later you will need to have an only rat. There's no way to avoid it, without giving away a rat to someone else, which I couldn't personally do. I think it's harder on an old rat to be rehomed than to live with attentive human friends he's known and loved all of his life.

So, try to really spend time with Stuart or find him a special older friend both have advantages and drawbacks.



I should add one footnote... Amelia attacked Max first, but Max really did take a couple of chunks out of Amelia... Amelia was old and tired, but she was freakishly huge, nearly 1 1/2 lbs trim weight (about 4-5 times Max's size) and she was still capable of defending herself... If Stuart is feeble, a stronger rat could really hurt him. We took Fuzzy Rat to the pet shop and showed her lots of potential friends in the feeder bins, she picked the perfect one for her that was actually owned by one of the shop's employees who brought her in to meet Fuzzy Rat. Amelia wasn't like Fuzzy Rat so she couldn't choose her own roommate. It may not be easy to find the perfect friend for Stuart, as you don't want him hurt at this stage in life. So a new friend my not be a good idea unless you can find the right one.

I hope I've contributed something useful to you decision..

Best luck and I hope you and Stuart still have many golden memory moments ahead.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I just logged on after being off for a while and I wanted to thank everyone for their posts. I have been trying to let him out in the bathroom with me and make sure we have a nice brushing session at night, but as Rat Daddy suggested might happen, he has withdrawn quite a bit. He sleeps a lot and doesn't seem to do much when I take him out to play. He mostly just sits and bathes himself and occasionally will walk around and tear up some toilet paper that I put down.

I am actually taking him to the vet hopefully this week as he has begun scratching a losing hair again. He also has an eye that is bulging out so I want to check that out. Again, thanks for all your advice!
 
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