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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My seven month old rat had a litter of ten yesterday. Today the litter is down to nine. There is food and water available and I am providing extra protein (cooked beef, eggs, etc.). My rat mom's littermate who is four months old was left in the cage with her per a university's advice. They stated the littermate would help mom, however, the littermate is always sleeping alone and doesn't go in the nestbox.

I plan on taking the littermate out and placing her cage beside mom's cage so they don't loose touch with one another. In addition I'd like to mark the pups with Crayola markers at the base of their tales with numbers. However, now I am hestitant to touch the litter since once pup has been consumed. In order to socialize pups they are supposed to be handled daily, but maybe socializing them at two weeks of age might be better in this case.

Mom comes to me and will run down my shirt like she always does to say hello. She doesn't mind me being near her litter and is not aggressive toward me or her littermate. I don't know what is going on. It could be that she is a first time mom. I don't know but do know I don't want any of her baby's to suffer by being consumed alive. Imagine the suffering they go through as well as the betrayal.

Hopefully most will make it to adulthood---but at this point it is unknown.
 

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When moms eat their babies it has nothing to do with hunger or you touching them. It is most likely the baby died of natural causes and the mom cleaned up the mess. This is because it can be very dangerous in the wild to leave the dead baby which will attract predators.

I wouldn't say it is super common but it is common enough. Facts of life, not all babies make it.

I am not a fan of leaving others in the cage with the mom. Alot can go wrong. My current litter I left the moms sister in with her after a few days because her sister is amazing at helping with the babies, the mom was very young & I know the temperament of my two girls very very well. I also tested it supervised before hand. But I feel in most cases it is best to leave momma alone until atleast 2-3 weeks.

I handle all of my babies every single day from the day they are born. I have never lost any babies. Rats are great moms for the most part. Some do not like u handling them near her, but if u remove her from the cage first u can handle them all u want with no worries.

Why do u want to put marker on them already? I could understand when they are older and have fur if they look the same but right now there isn't much point. I have never had much luck with markers. I find the moms clean it off super fast. I have one boy in my current litter that I have his tail marked with permanent marker and I have to touch it up every day as it is almost gone. The permanent marker is safe btw. Lots of breeders use them.

Anyways it is perfectly natural thing to happen. Don't worry. You may even lose one or two more sadly. She is just so young and to have a larger litter sometimes not all the babies are very healthy and may pass. She isn't being cruel or a bad mom.

Just check the babies for milk bands.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I wanted to put a marker on them to see if any 'numbers' go missing. It's not necessary.

Why does my mother rat start to go crazy rearranging her pups when I open up the shoe box to look at them? She frantically picks them up and moves them here and there and kicks the litter forward as if to cover them. Does this mean she is getting stressed from me looking at them? I've touched them in front of her and she doesn't bit, but she appears to act anxious. If she is then this means I probably shouldn't touch the litter---yet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
What about my daddy rat? Will he recognize the pups are 'his' when it's time to separate the males from the females? Should I be introducing dad to them or will he kill them because he doesn't recognize them as his (I would take mom out of the cage so he doesn't get her pregnant again).
 

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Adult male rats won't attack babies. Whether or not he knows they're his...who knows?

It is normal for mom to be a bit anxious as you handle her little ones, but it's fine. You really should handle them to get them used to being handled.11111111

I'll just leave that string of ones since it is from Tali stepping on my keyboard. I have held her every day from the day she was born (well, I waited 24 hours, so I guess the second day.). Her own mom, my dearly departed Fry, did the same thing. Any time I took the babies out of the nest she would start putting them back and then cover them up.

But she never seemed to mind toooo much. And all was well.

It actually got to the point where when I took the babies out to sex them, she nabbed one, carried it back to the nest, then stuck her head out, waiting for me to hand her the next one. When I did, she tossed it around to where she wanted it, and stuck her head out again, waiting for the next one to be handed to her. It was hilarious.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
I was wondering about those ones. Ha ha

My rat momma takes her pups out of my hands too and run away with him/her which is scary. Yesterday, she took one and ran away with it in my bed under the blankets (this blanket was against her cage and of course she chewed holes in and it is new!) and I was saying while trying to grab her, "No, no, no...", because I didn't want her placing her baby in a hiding spot which could kill the pup from exposure or from getting crushed. Her cage is on my bed in my bedroom where my cats can't disturb her.

How many seconds/minutes can a pup be held? Should they be handled together or separately? I will admit I've kissed their wee mouths when putting them back in their nest. Oh-so-friggin'-cute!
 

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She may be alittle stressed with you handling them. Personally I remove mom from the cage when I check on the babies. This gives her time to relax, run around enjoy her free time and not have to worry about me with the babies. Her natural instinct is to keep her babies in the nest.

My last litter was from an experienced mom & I had the babies out, usually she just ignored me and did her thing but this time she came over grabbed one of the babies and took it back to the cage!

I try to limit that as it can lead to the babies being injured. While moms are often gentle moving the babies..not always and even less if they r not that happy. Bite marks can happen.

I want to make it as less stressful for the mom as possible. Even with my mommas that are awesome and let me handle the babies, I just prefer them not right there.


This is kindof the basic idea of what I do with my babies. Each litter is alittle bit different and I try to judge their needs uniquely.

When they are itty bitty I only keep them away from their mom 10-15 mins. As pinkies I keep the sessions even quicker. They get cold pretty fast. I take them out of the cage and lay them on a blanket. I check over each one. Take group pics, because I love pics and take daily ones to chart them. I sex them at 2 days old and I then separate them into sexes and take more pics. As pinkies that is it.

Almost a week old, I spend alittle more time holding them, talking to them, kissing them. Their ears don't open until about 10-12 days. But idk I still talk to them lol I still do not handle them a ton yet, mostly just to check on them and pics.

After a week old they get handled a bit more. They are crawling all over the place. I may keep them out 20-25 mins. I talk to them lots and handle them, kiss them. I may carry them around with me alittle bit.

When their eyes open at about 2 weeks is when all the fun starts. IMO this is when stuff really matters and the core time to handle them often. They are much more active now. I do about two 30 min or so sessions. If they start to seem hungry/tired I put them away. I try to wear them out. But sometimes sneak in and carry some around with me. They get put into a playpen and I offer them lots to learn about, things to climb and try. They all come out and I rotate handling/snuggling each one as much as possible. I love when they fall asleep on my lap snuggled in or when they give me a bath!

At 3 weeks they are trouble making handfuls and it is harder to handle them all at once. I keep them in a secure playpen they are escape artists now and u need something very secure to take them out in as well as remembering they out number you. I just had my babies out & 8 of them tried escaping the playpen at once and I was like omg u r driving me crazy! They may get several hour long play sessions. I try to read them to what they like. I offer food and water during the playtime and places to nap. I handle each one as much as possible one on one as well as like 3-4 at a time in my lap/shoulder.

At 4 weeks old u can pretty much treat them as small normal rats. More playtime the better. Lots and lots of one on one handling sessions. Mom pretty much could care less as she is sick of them by now! lol I like to put them on my shoulders and walk around with them. They are getting free range time like my adults.

Again every single day they get pics taken. And from 2 weeks onward I try to expose them to as much as possible. Noise, different rooms, scents, etc... Before two weeks I keep the sessions short and mostly pic taking with alittle bit of handling/checking on them and kisses always kisses!

All of my babies turn out amazing if I may say so lol! I like to say they are bomb proof well adjusted :)



In the wild a male rat would be with the mom and know they were his babies (even if they actually are not) because he mated with her and she is in his group. But our pet rats are not so much like that as they get separated. But MOST male rats will not attack or harm the babies. Some are jerks though and it is also important to know that the size difference is alot and babies can accidentally be hurt and adults may try to put them in their place when they get annoying- which they will do.

At about 2-3 weeks old depending on the litter I carefully introduce them to my other rats- both females and males. Of the adult rats I trust!

My males who are not aggressive could care less. They pretty much pay no mind to the babies at all. The babies on the other hand are like omg u r so big let me swarm and climb all over you! The boy is then like eww kids and runs away :) i actually have a pic of their recent meeting with my male Maly who is not their dad btw.



So wait until they are 2-3 weeks, I'd actually prob suggest closer to 3 and then yes intro them to your male with alot of supervision. When they are like 4 weeks old I'd even say let them have free range time with him. if you house the babies with their dad just be careful. Some males do get aggressive with other males. Clean the cage well beforehand as if you are doing a new intro.


Sorry I love babies so I ramble on a bit lol
 
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