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Discussion Starter #1
I just had a frightening email conversation with a person the other day. She is local to me & well, many of the locals know about me & my rats & they referred her to me to find a new vet because she wanted a 2nd opinion & to talk to me about all things ratty.

She emailed me & told me about what was going on & said that she had recently lost to rats because of cancerous tumors. Her vet said to not remove them because they would just come back bigger & once the tumors with so large they prevented them from quality of life, bring them back & have them PTS. She had just done so & still had one rat at home & she was concerned because she was starting to show the same signs.

I asked her a few questions that I assume any vet would have asked... what are you feeding them & how are they housed & a few other questions that are relative to write out per this post & conversation...

She said:

Oh I have a nice big 20 gallon aquarium & I use a really good cedar bedding that removes the stinky smells. I feed my rats a really great selection of foods. I give them meat & veggies from my own meals as well as a seed & nut mix. I also feed them something I feed my sugar gliders.

I don't remember the brand she mentioned right off the top of my head right now but when I googled it while reading her letter I found the protein rating was as I feared... high protein but get this, 45% protein!!!!!

Ok, how do you tell this person they are doing everything wrong & I mean so wrong that it may be the care they were giving them that actually killed them. I could tell by the way she wrote that she honestly thought she was doing a great job with her rats because she talked so lovingly about them & often commented about how she spoiled them & always made sure she did what was best for them.

I just sat there dreading my next move & that was that I needed to write back to her & tell her some things that were really going to hit her like a ton of bricks.

I thought about it for over an hour before I replied but I couldn't think of anything to say that would ease the blow of what she was about to read.

So with that said, right now while you can & you have healthy rats or if you have yet to get your first rat... do your research listen to the advice of people who offer it & be sure to give your rats the best chance at having a healthy life that is humanly possible. We may not ever be able to do it perfectly but we sure don't need to go about it the most wrong way possible.
 

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you know, because she felt so confident that she was doing the right thing and did not question the vet on telling her to do nothing though she felt wrong about it, she probably did do research (at least some talking with friends or pet store workers and such) and she probably is listening to the advice she was given. unfortunately there is a lot of WRONG information out there that is believed because of the person giving it is one with authority or is assumed to know what they are talking about (most chain pet store employees as an example). i've seen websites about rats that someone decided to write with slews of wrong information. i've even seen printed books that recommended tanks too small for one rat and pine as an alternative to cedar. the nutrition that was recommended in it was horrible too. i assume it was written a while ago before the problems with pine was known or rats were used as pets very much yet. but when the information in it became outdated it was not pulled from shelves. i've even had vets give me wrong information about how well males do with other males. if she was subject to this kind of information, she would have done all that you are asking but received the wrong stuff.

i'm sure though, now that you have told her the difference she will be thankful. at least she didn't have a genetic hercules live for a long time with her (over 2/3 years) because then she would never believe that she was doing anything wrong and that all rats cna live that long on those conditions. i have bumped heads with people like that, they are impossible to set straight because they have "PROOF" to the contrary. hopefully she will take your advice quickly and remedy the situation.
 

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I don't know... my gut tells me she is devastated because she hasn't written back.

I feel horrible

I don't know where she got her information or who gave it to her. I don't know if it was her research or what she was advised to do via the vet or a clerk somewhere. Our contact was brief.

Since I knew she was about to read a bunch of things that were going to explain how what she was doing & what she should be doing was so dramatically different I tried to write back in a way where she would take it as I was scolding her, so I wrote very little of my own words & provided links to a bunch of info to support the methods & practices that are more acceptable & links that explained why the current methods & practices she was following were harmful.

I know we can't save them all. It just hurts when things hit so close to home.
 

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yes, that is certainly true. one of the people with the lucky genetics rats, they lived just down the street from me. and i could do nothing! they were over crowded, on pine, had mites, and on hamster seed mix, the female was in ahamster cage by herself. the father to them all lived to be almost 5 years old if not older, his sons all lived to be over 3 and his daughter lived to be almost 4. all their lives in that condition. you could smell the rats from outside the room too. it was horrible. but nothing i told him could get him to change. i was horrified when i heard too late that he released all his sick girls (the other daughters and mothers to generals children) the night before a huge storm because they were acting "weird"... i found out nearly 3 weeks too late. all those rats are gone but he has new ones now. i'm so very saddened for them. the worst part though, is that he says adn i think he fully believes that he loves these animals.

there was another time when i tried to find out why someone would be giving away their 3 year old rat. when i foudn out it was merely because they didn't want to bother with him anymore i was most disappointed. mainly because they would not believe me and became quite offensive when i tried to explain to them that rats that old are rare and are unlikely to live much longer. they went on to tell me that the other rat they had before this one lived for 7 years and so this one was still quite young. and if you feed them and care for them properly all rats can live that long (here they made clear that the reason that my oldest rat only lived to 30 months was becasue i was a terrible owner and was killing my rats with the way i was caring for them). when they answered my questions of if he had friend, they responded by saying, of course not, rats are solitary adn males would kill other males, they were adament on this. my reply to all this was not one i'm proud of now but by god did they ever tick me off. by this point they would not give me the rat anyway, but as he was a male and i did not have the money for a neuter at the time.. well i just hope he found a home that would not be too "bothered" to care for him in his old age. with the type of replies i was getting i was greatly concerned as to what they thought was proper care and nutrition.

and it would seem that it is those kinds of owners that get the longer lived rats. i don't understand it. the people here would have taken so much better care of them, the one that lived to 7 may have lived even longer, general and his children may have gotten to 7 themselves if they made it so long on such horrid conditions. but no, its not us you are gifted by these rare long-lived rats. we're lucky and ever so proud of our 2 year olds and 3 year olds, stunned by the very very rare few that make it to 4.

*takes deep breath* ok, yeah i can see why it would sting so much more when they are so close and still, your hands are tied. i will stop ranting now...

if she does respond please tell us how things turn out. i hope she takes your advice and reads those articles.
 
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