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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Lets face it, keeping and caring for rats can be expensive and time consuming. Now, those words are synonymous with "not worth it" or "tedious" however. I have made a guide for people with a limited budget. I estimate without this, you'd spend about 300 dollars on your rats.

Food: Food is really not something you should skimp on, ever. Just like humans, eating any old food isn't good for you, and rats need certain vitamins and minerals in their diets. Oxbow and Native earth are both great foods, and Oxbow can be 6.99 for 3 pounds on amazon. Not only this, but rats only need about 4-5 blocks per day, meaning they can last up to a YEAR. So that's 6.99 minimum and 16.99 max. But, lets go with the minimum.

A cage: A cage can be bought new or used, and if your on a budget, getting used is a great option.Look on your local craigslist to find a cage for your rats. Keep in mind rats need 2 cubic feet per rat. Look at alot of cages, and keep an open mind. Bird cages can be modified to be safe and fun for any rats for cheap. For example, I found a large 67 x 42 x 27 bird cage for 20 dollars on craigslist. It was 2 ontop of eachother, so you could modify it to be a multilevel, safe, and fun cage. Hamster cages, tanks, and anything with more then 1" bar spacing is not suitable for ANY rats. For the most part, a good cage will cost about 40 dollars

Toys and accessories: Toys are essential to rats and their well being, but the best part is that these can be made for cheap or even free. I've broken down toys and accessories into 3 catagories: sleep, hide, and play.
Sleep: Hammocks can be made fore cheap or free, simply get some old fabric, sew another piece to it and clamp it on the cage using string, safety pin, or binder clips. You can also make snuggle sacks, by sewing 2 pieces of fabric together but leaving on side open. Clamp it to the bars. You can use the excess fabric to throw into the cage. All in all, sleeping will cost about 3 dollars for fabric, but could also be free from using old tshirts, jeans, blankets, etc.
Hide: Anything can be a hide away! My rats fav is a small dollar store step stool. You will need about 1 per rat, plus 1 extra. Some good free hideaways are large ramen noodle boxes, tissue paper boxes, coffee cans, plastic totes, plastic step stools, wood logs, easter baskets. These are all great and free ideas to enrich the cage.
Play: Packs of wooden bird toys cost about 8 dollars, and you can use about 4 to complete the cage. You can get smooth sticks from outside (cleaned of course) to make ladders, and even just use bird perches to use as a climbing toy! For the most part, Play will cost you about 8 dollar, unless you want a wheel, then it should be around 18 or so.

Bedding: Fleece makes cheap, reusable, and great bedding! but, carefresh natruals are also great options! This should cost you around 10-11 dollars. NEVER EVER USE CEDAR, CLAY CAT LITTER, OR PINE BEDDING IT WILL HURT YOUR RATS. CORN COB IS ALSO NOT GOOD FOR RATS.

So lets total this all up. It should cost you around 76 dollars for the bare bones minimum. So there you have it, live long, and prosper ratty friends!:cool:
 

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You're spot on about how you can make free toys and hammocks, and how food is the most important thing - I've built all my hammocks and levels out of old heavy fleece jackets, turned $2 luggage nets into climbing nets, use driftwood for perches, old woolen socks for bedding material, and wooden clothes pegs to hold everything in place - it's amazing what you can come up with if you play around with it, plus if it gets boring you can change it around completely and give the ratties a bit of fun exploring all over again :) What people really need to remember is the cost of vet bills - they can really stack up.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Yeah, vet bills can be costly. I do most of my vetting myself, as i have alot of access to medications and things. I have doxy, i have bandages, i have alot of vetting things. But novices should not be their own vets,leave that to the, well, vets!
 

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I highly suggest not buying 3lb bags of oxbow if u r trying to save money. And not buying from amazon either. It is far more cost effective to buy the 20lb bags. It is in a resealable bag but you could also split it up and freeze some if you have just a few rats. It is also cheaper to get it here drsfostersmith. This is the cheapest price I've found (in the US) A 20lb bag is $39.99, shipping is 5.99 or free if u add a few things to make it over $49. And it is often on sale as well.

Rats will also eat more then 4-5 blocks per day. Maybe only 4-5 blocks of the native earth as they are large, Im not sure. But oxbow is small and they definitely eat far more than that. I personally free feed myself, so they always have food in their bowls.
In general (it depends alot on age, activity, size, & other foods given) but a rat should eat 1/lb per month. So a 3lb bag would last ONE rat 3 months. TWO rats a month and a half. I often see people saying their 3 lb bags last like a couple weeks.

The oxbow can be mixed with some other foods to bulk it up and fresh food given as well. But their base mix should be the majority of what they eat like 80% of their diet.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for the info on oxbow, but when i said they only need 4-5 blocks, it was for native earth because they are large. But, again, thank you.
 

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moonkissed, how do you keep your rats from hiding it away? I used to try and free feed, but then my rats would bury the food and store it, so there was a large amount of waste. Sorry if this is off topic.
 

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moonkissed, how do you keep your rats from hiding it away? I used to try and free feed, but then my rats would bury the food and store it, so there was a large amount of waste. Sorry if this is off topic.
I have wondered this myself lol. I am not entirely sure. My very first rats were god awful hoarders. I always found half the food in their beds hidden away and it did feel like such a waste.

Now I have 17 rats, spread through 3 different cages and not a single one hoards their food. There has to be some reason.

*sometimes with treats they will do the whole go hide it and come back for another one like they didn't get it lol but the extra treats are still eaten right away so I do not consider this actually hoarding.

For one I think it is the food I feed. Before I fed native earth and they were not big fans. I feed oxbow now and all of my rats seem to really love it. I think it may help with them wanting to eat it now and not later?

I have multiple food dishes in my cages on different levels. It may give them less reason to bring all their food upstairs or downstairs to hide it? (this is actually currently not true of my girls cage currently where I only feed them downstairs but they were raised with multiple dishes so it may be habit now idk)

I feed my rats fresh food daily and almost always it is more of them coming to me, getting pieces and a bonding experience rather than just a bowl of food. Though I do sometimes leave food bowls as well. But it may somehow help them see food time as this is the time to eat? It may also help that I keep a fairly good schedule on feeding times.

I think it helps that I feed them a really well balanced diet. So they are getting enough food, not too much or too little fresh and treats too.

My rats will hide their food dishes. Cover it with fleece scraps or their very favorite thing is to put all the toys in the food bowl. So maybe that helps them get it out of their system?

I have very confident rats that don't hide when they eat? That is not actually true for all of them, but I guess the ones that try and hide it have their food stolen so maybe they learn it isn't a good idea? lol


Im sorry I am not really much help. lol I really wish I knew exactly what I was doing, so I can make sure to keep doing it!! My rats are from different sources- many I have bred or from breeders, some from pet stores and I even have two old men rescues.
 

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I think it can depend on cage set up too, for the hording. I never had any, then my girls started after a cage change. Now they were caged swapped again and don't do it any more. I think it depends on where the food is, if it feels like a secure location they are good with it. Though I do have my old lady who always puts a large toy over the top of it.
 

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My rats do the same thing with their treats that you mentioned, moonkissed-and if I don't give them another they act so disappointed :3. I used to try to hand them food, but they stopped taking it. More accurately, they take it, realize it isn't a treat, and put it back in my hand. XD
 

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moonkissed, how do you keep your rats from hiding it away? I used to try and free feed, but then my rats would bury the food and store it, so there was a large amount of waste. Sorry if this is off topic.
Your rats may hide their food or treats just because they are sassy love-monsters who like to control their own eating spots and place for food! The best "solution" is generally to move their food dish to where they are hoarding their food but sometimes they will switch it up.
I have one girl who hides anything from food to pieces of fleece that she finds and basically everything around the room! She is her own interior designer!
Basically the main message is that there is no need to stop your rats from hiding their food, they are just being lil adorable annoying home owners that like to be in control.
Of course if anyone DOES know a tactic, I'd love to hear it ^.^ But as far as I hear it is just a habit and personality trait.
 

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My rats do the same thing with their treats that you mentioned, moonkissed-and if I don't give them another they act so disappointed :3. I used to try to hand them food, but they stopped taking it. More accurately, they take it, realize it isn't a treat, and put it back in my hand. XD
lol My two rescue boys were not used to getting treats and fresh food. My boy Blue, I had to win him over and sometimes he still is not super interested in his veggies. I gave them kale last night & he put his foot over the kale and reached past to sniff my fingers to see if I had anything better! When he was finally satisfied that all I had was the kale he took it and ate it. It does not help that he is my husband's favorite so my husband tends to give him little treats often, so he only wants the yummy stuff now!

Khaleesi is the worst about hiding treats to get more. When I was trying to teach her tricks she got very excited so she kept taking the treats & coming back and doing the trick again. it was too adorable so I just kept giving her more and more. If I tried to stop she would get in my lap and start doing it like "omg I am doing it give me treats. I am so cute" lol She kindof trained me but now everytime she gets a treat she tries to do that....oops
 
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