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Discussion Starter #1
I've owned rats before, but its been a long, long time since I've had any babies. I have two precious males reserved and the lady wants them off her hands at four weeks. Is it safe to immediately use a large cage? I have a travel cage (about 2 foot wide by one deep and one and a half foot tall) and a small but larger hospital cage (which is about 2'x1.5'x2.5'). All have less than 1/2" wire spacing but my concern is that the ratlets might climb and fall off onto a shelf or heaven forbid somehow fall from top to bottom due to their small size. So shift between the cages with age/size or lots of hammocks in my normal cage?
Thanks!

Note- I currently do not have a mischief that they would be joining
 

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With such small bar spacing, I'd just hang lots of hammocks. Even at 4 weeks, they're extremely nimble and there shouldn't be any horrible falls.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you! Are large chew toys (parrot type) safe to use with little ones? Do I need to sand any corners on toys?
 

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Bird toys are generally safe for rats since birds are more sensitive. I'd just be careful of cheap, thin plastic objects while they're young. While they won't typically ingest things they shouldn't, sometimes thin plastic can cut their mouths if they're chewers.
 

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ugh that lady sucks to be selling them at only 4 weeks :(

My current babies are 4.5 weeks old. At 3 weeks old they were climbing the cage like experts. You should have nothing to worry about. You could always place hammocks all over just in case. But yeah they are little natural climbers.
 

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Pretty much just avoid anything made in China or any 'third world' country... Some foreign manufacturers play fast and loose with toxic plastics and lead paint. They know they can't be sued and they intentionally mix toxic waste into the plastic to get rid of it. In any case, they aren't intending their products to be used as rat chew toys so they might not be being intentionally malevolent. But if you find it at the dollar store, it's got a fair chance of being unhealthy if not toxic.

If a product has a reputable name and is US made, they are liable for any harm it causes and they are more likely to consider what they put into it.... even then sometimes companies get cheap and cut corners, but for the most part their products are safer.
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
So it is okay to use high quality toys that have plastic on them with rats? I always thought that you could only use those when carefully supervising in case a ratty decides it would be delicious since they can't vomit or spit..? Has anyone tried the small animal Kong toy? They claim to be made in America and nontoxic rubber.. is it safe as a treat toy for rats?
I know I couldn't believe she wants them away from their mom at four weeks! Aside from their fresh food and lab blocks would rat safe baby foods and milk free (soy) infant formula be helpful to make sure they have all the nutrients they need for growing well?
 

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i usually adopt our rats at 3 weeks old... I give them shredded wheat soaked in normal milk as well as left overs and about anything we eat as well as rat blocks. Egg whites, and a bit of meat or fish as they want it will help them grow but mostly young rats will pick and choose the foods they need most. Young rats grow fast and need a lot of nutrition... With the 2 week old rat we adopted we used powdered KMR formula. Seriously, don't overthink this, rats eat just about anything we do and young rats are just like human kids... They can eat more calorie, fat and protein rich foods than human adults. By 4 weeks old they can live on rat blocks, if they had to, but richer human foods won't hurt and will likely help.

To be honest, rat pups are really pretty smart, they don't usually swallow things they shouldn't... That doesn't mean you should expose them to toxic plastics... you most likely shouldn't expose your kids or yourself to them either. but just because a rat chews something up, doesn't mean it ingests it.

Last night, our big fat older rat Cloud was dumpster diving the kitchen trash and being particularly loud about it, she hasn't done it in a long time, but I remember when she was a pup and a young rat, she hardly ever ate anything she didn't find in the trash. Now, she more or less asks to be served leftovers and other human foods... I don't think she's ever eaten a rat block in her life. And Misty usually goes through the trash before Cloud can get to it nowadays... You might guess that our rats live pretty much free range in the house and somehow they don't get themselves killed.

We had a part wild rat long ago, and she actually lived outdoors on her own for a summer... I was amazed how competent and confident she was so we tend to treat our rats somewhat like rats. I'm guessing by some standards it might seem like neglect or even abuse... but our rats thrive and flourish and become very independent. They become family members rather than pets. There's a real tendency to pamper and overprotect rat pups, and there's nothing wrong with that, but always keep in mind your rats are.... well they are... actually rats. And rats are the second most successful species on earth and they are built to survive and thrive where nothing else will.

Once our precocious pup Max decided she wanted to eat before everybody else so when our backs were turned she jumped up onto the stove and singed her whiskers... she never did it again and Fuzzy Rat could strip the insulation right off both sides of an extension chord without ever getting a shock. Unfortunately that could get a little shocking for the human that didn't realize the wire was stripped on both sides, but rats are very fast learners and somehow they are naturally able to not get killed even when they are being reckless (most of the time).

It's fine to be protective and careful... but don't get to panicky. Sometimes you just have to have a little faith in your kids and rats.
 

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As one gets older the sharp edges of experience tend to blur together... and you start seeing natural associations between things and events that weren't once apparent.... I suppose some folks call that wisdom. Perhaps others call it pre-senility. But yes, I often see lots of direct comparisons between human kids and sometimes human behaviors in general and our rats, even in the way we react to them... And surprisingly when in doubt, if you apply what you have learned with kids to rats they tend to work more often than not. To some degree, as demonstrated by psychology lab experiments on rats, rats are wired a lot like humans, so maybe there is some science behind it... but mostly as a rat parent we are often called upon to make on the fly decisions with no previous experience... so I always recommend that someone draws from the seemingly less related body of knowledge they already have. Sometimes it comes down to a silly story about our amazingly brilliant Fuzzy Rat and sometimes it's an anecdote about dating or kids that rings the right bell, but sometimes when folks apply a little fuzzy logic things just seem to get easier... it works for me and I hope it helps. In any event, you are very welcome.
 
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