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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
As I'm about to leave on vacation myself, I thought I'd share my routine for leaving my rats behind. I see this topic often enough that I felt the need to write up a post with tips for leaving your rats with a caretaker. You deserve some time off without worrying about your babies.



Rat Vacation Guide

First, find someone that you trust unconditionally. This must be an adult. Even though your little cousin loves your rats and wants to take care of them for you, an adult must be supervising this activity for the care and safety of all involved. Be sure to compensate the caretaker for this important service. Some spending money in a card, a paid dinner, or a handmade gift all do nicely. Use your judgement based on the person you choose. Important: Have a back-up caretaker in case of an emergency!


You are going to be writing everything down, but it is very important that the caretaker visits before you leave so that you can go through the instructions with them. Even though they will have the instructions to guide them, it is extremely helpful to physically show them what they will be doing. Have a copy of your instructions with you during this tour to point the steps out on the page.


A few days before you leave, sit down at the computer to begin writing your instructions. Don't leave any crucial details out, but don't write an essay, either.


Write down the names of your rats and what color (in simple terms, not technical terms) they are so that they can be easily identified. If the rat has any important quirks (this one will try to escape, this one will want to taste your finger, etc.), write them down as well.


List the obvious things like food and water, but don't leave out details such as how to ensure that the cage is latched properly, being sure to refill the water bottle to the complete top and tapping the valve to ensure that it is working, and any other small things that you may not think of at first. Read over the list several times before you leave so that you can add things as necessary.


Even though you may "eyeball" the amounts of food you give your rats, don't expect the caretaker to do the same. Find a measuring instrument that closely matches how much you usually give, and keep that with their dry food. If the caretaker is rat phobic, a trick you can use is to get brown paper lunch bags to fill with daily portions of meals. Fold them up and store it all in a container so that the caretaker can just toss a bag in the cage quickly without having to spend time measuring and dishing out. The rats won't mind.


If your rats get fresh foods, you will be preparing that in advance. Fill enough sandwich bags (plus some extra) for every feeding with the food they'll be giving. Avoid getting complicated with special meals and just stick the basics in the bag. Place all of the bags in an easily accessible area of the freezer and ensure that your caretaker knows exactly where they are.


If your rats require medication, do your best to measure that out so that the caretaker doesn't have to struggle with dosing. You can get a bunch of tiny syringes from the vet or pharmacy with caps and assemble the proper doses so that they are ready to go. Even if your rat is not on medication, you may want to assemble some doses of ibuprofen in a first aid kit. In case of an emergency, write down your number and the number (and address) of your vet in case you can't be reached for whatever reason.


Consider avoiding instructions like free-range time. Your rats will not likely be comfortable with their change in routine and playtime could be dangerous. The last thing you want is the caretaker losing a scared rat. Your vacation is temporary, and your rats will forgive you.


As soon before your departure as possible, clean the cage and fill it with plenty of toys to occupy them during your time away. If you don't already have one, purchase a second water bottle just in case one should fail. Give the cage an inspection to make sure that latches are in working order, parts are secure, etc.


When your list is complete, print several copies. Leave one by the cage, one on the freezer, and one in a junk drawer in the kitchen or wherever. Make sure that the caretaker knows where all of these copies are. Also, email them a copy.


Finally, give your rats kisses and enjoy your vacation, knowing that they will be cared for well!
 

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Great post - thanks Cagebirdsinging! What is your opinion on small animal boarding services? The only person I would trust with my boys is my mother, but occasionally I go away on short breaks with her so I need to think of a solution.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
You're welcome.

I live in a very rural area, so those services are not even an option to think about around here. For those that have it available to them, I imagine that it could go either way. I would go for an interview and a tour at their facilities and take your instructions along. If you get a bad feeling in your gut, trust it and walk away. The entire point is for you to be able to enjoy your vacation and not worry about your pets too much.
 

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Thanks for the advice, asking for a tour is a good idea.
I'm not planning on going anywhere in the near future except to my parents at christmas - and the boys will be coming with me. But I think I will start researching soon to see if I can find some reviews, and get a list of possible options for future reference. I think there are a few boarders where I live, and some even offer a pick up and drop off service which could be handy for me as I don't drive.
 

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My vet offers boarding, and that's the only place I would trust. Every exotic vet I've been to offers it, and many times I've been in and seen the visitors beig given time out (while no sick animals are in) or just general attention.
 

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My vets doesn't offer it as far as I know, but next time I'm there I will ask if they have a recommended boarder.
Yeah, I didn't even realize that was an option for anything other than cats or dogs.

Just curious, how long is too long to leave them alone? Would overnight or a day (provided they had plenty of food and water be alright? I'm thinking of Thanksgiving coming up and I will be with family for the day and back Friday evening. I'm thinking this should be fine. I previously had Guinea Pigs and they were fine for a day or so but when I'd be gone longer I would take them with me or have friends look in on them. Can the same be said for Rats?
 

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I've been overnight before myself a couple of times - probably not even a full 24 hours out of the house. I like to make sure they get a decent amount of free range before, and then add a few extra activities in the cage to keep them busy while I'm gone. I have two water bottles and a bowl of water so there is always a water source if one somehow fails. Everyone was fine when I got back, albeit very excited to see me!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Anything more than a weekend (two days, two nights) warrants a sitter, in my opinion. Too many things can go wrong that need to be solved within 24 hours.
 

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As long as they don't run out of food. But I would ask someone just pop in for five minutes just to make sure they are ok. Because if something happens and you are out for a few days when you come back there was nothing you could have done.
 

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Me and my wife are discussing taking a 2 week vacation to Europe next year. I have some reservations about leaving our boys alone that long though. My Sister lives across the street and would check in on them for me, but they're use to having 2+ hours of free range time every morning and every evening. She wouldn't be able to do that. I also worry that one of them will pass while we're away. That will be right about the 2 year mark for all of my boys and if one of them dies while I'm away I'm not sure how I'd handle it. It really makes me reluctant to try and plan such a long trip.

Anyone here done a long trip like that? What did you do with your ratties while you were away?
 

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Discussion Starter #15
They'll be fine without free range time for that long. As long as someone can check in and be sure their basic needs are met, you're good to go enjoy your vacation.
 

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This is a kind of old thread, but does anyone know how to take your rats on vacation? I've got a temporary cage and such, but I was just wondering if there's anything special I'd need to do, like have extra hammocks/cages or whatever just in case.
 

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would my rats be ok for 3 or 4 days without a sitter? as long as I left them lots of food and 2 water bottles? thinking of going some where this summer just a summer break for a few days ?
The max I will leave my rats is 2, maybe tops 3, days but I think 4 is too long. Even with all the food and water there cage would become dirty and the ammonia itself would bother them. Plus if something happened you might get home too late to be able to help... In my opinion, the very least you should do is have someone come in and tidy the cage as well as check on them every 2 days.
 
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