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As a first time owner, I knew from a practical standpoint that Rat's primary evolutionary trait for survival is a high breeding rate, and they aren't the most hardy in captivity or possessed of a super high survival instinct. That, along with the fact that mine were going to be an inbred breed (lab rat rescues) meant that maybe their life expectancy wasn't going to be all that high, and they have short lifespans anyway. But I was just kidding myself, and should have known better because I am highly sensitive, very deeply attached to animals, and love them entirely too much. I figured since they rats were never socialized young, and simply the fact that they don't really return affection in any real way like a more domesticated animal appears to, it wouldn't be so bad. Well, guess what: rats easily develop problems, and I'm devastated. I mean, one of two boys has had a few health issues that aren't nearly as serious as some I see here (I literally cannot even bear to skim the health forum, because there are so many horrific titles...home euthanasia RETRY???? Are you kidding me?).

I'm basically just venting and looking for perspective. I have now spent months working on trust training, with perhaps too much success, because it's even more investment. I'm hooked, and even though it's abundantly clear that any perceived affection on their part is strictly food seeking and just being more comfortable with a food provider, I cannot divest emotionally when health problems arise (I just posted a fairly serious one in the health forum, so this is fresh in my mind). I love them. I see people here just accepting their mortality rate as a matter of course and then getting more rats...that's beyond me. I would be too devastated to just to out and grab another one.

So...hopefully the vet will call back soon and my favorite rat has not actually developed something terminal with his rapid weight loss. But in the meantime it's killing me, not to mention I'm quite poor and cannot afford repeated vet visits, but I accepted this responsibility so I just go deeper into debt, up to a point. That's another tough aspect. Boo hoo (tissue). Thanks for reading.
 

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It's tough when any pet passes. I can say that I've had rats on and off for over 20 years. When my current group passes, I do not get anyone new. We always take a year, maybe more before investing emotionally in them again. I've also been lucky and my rats have been older when everyone passes, so I don't have guilt of leaving someone young as a single rat. If I did have a single younger rat I'd probably feel the need to find him/her a friend. I wouldn't look at it as a replacement though. It's a new friend so we don't have a lonely rat, and that new friend will eventually be part of the family of humans and pets in this house.

Some folks can just keep going, others need some time to grief. Neither is wrong.

Medical care and common sense have to be used. Hopefully if you find a good vet they can be honest when medical care in needed and when it's better to do home care or just allow them to live as comfortably as they can for as long as they can.
 

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Rats do have short life spans 2-3 on average.

When it comes to pets I don't think any amount of life span is ever really long enough. I had a cat that was my absolute world and she got bad cancer and had to be put down at 12 and it was far far too soon and heartbreaking for me. No matter what or when, death is never easy.

I love rats. I love their personalities and how adorable they are. I am hooked. I will always and forever have them in my life. I focus on life rather then death. I make every moment of their life count. Rat years to human 3 years for them is about 90 for us. That is a nice long ratty life. When one passes I mourn them but always know that they are alive in my heart and memories. And it opens up a spot for a new love, a new little rat that I can get to know. For me a new baby helps me get over the loss. Not everyone is the same in that though.

I highly highly suggest people ideally try to go with a really good breeder. You get your rats from a good source you will likely have so much less issues. Health and behavior wise.

(**just a note inbreeding in rats is really not usually a bad thing. They can actually handle it very well and it is very common with breeders to line breed to develop better lines. It will not shorten their lives)
 

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Correct me if I am wrong, but I thought the purpose of inbreeding lab rats was to create a longer life span for the rat? Isn't this true with Long-Evans Rats?

Anyway, it usually isn't the fact the we're looking at a rattie death as just a way of life and going out and buying a new one. It's usually because most have multiple rats housed in multiple cages or in a divider cage. In this case, it's almost always a must to get the remaining rat a friend as they are social creatures and need a friend. I know I am looking for more rats because my girls are getting up there in age. Introductions take some time so it'll be easier to already have more rats already being introduced when it comes time for either Ana or Elsa to pass. It will help ease the pain for either one of them because they have been together since they were in the womb.

Either way, I hope your rattie is okay.
 

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When it comes to pets I don't think any amount of life span is ever really long enough. I had a cat that was my absolute world and she got bad cancer and had to be put down at 12 and it was far far too soon and heartbreaking for me. No matter what or when, death is never easy.
This is SO true. My dog is going to turn 10 in a few months, and it's recently dawned on me that he's a pretty old dog now (his breed average is 12-14yrs), and I'm kind of freaking out because I am so not ready to let go. :(

I feel that same way about my rats too. They're all just over a year and a half, and I am so worried that one day I'll come home and find one of them dead. :(

I think you just have to learn to really appreciate the time you have with your pets, and take solace in knowing that you gave them a good home, good care, and lots of love, which is a lot more than many people give their pets.
 

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...... the fact that they don't really return affection in any real way.............
Even though I'm a new rat owner myself, I can tell you this is not true.

Over the last few weeks, I've been reading a lot on rats. As with most animals, people just don't always understand their behavior. They don't understand that if a dog is growling, but still wagging his tail, he's not threatening anyone. One of dogs plays with us that way. Rats show affection differently than most other animals do. When they chatter or grind their teeth, bruxing, they are showing a affection much the same way a cat does when it purrs. If they walk all over you or clean you, that is also a sign of affection.

I was happy when Anga sat in her cage staring at me and started to brux! I knew I was being a good mom and that felt so great! One of my very shy rats recently starting bruxing next to me when she was out for play time. I've really worked hard to earn her trust. When she did that, I knew all my efforts would pay off.
 

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I was happy when Anga sat in her cage staring at me and started to brux! I knew I was being a good mom and that felt so great! One of my very shy rats recently starting bruxing next to me when she was out for play time. I've really worked hard to earn her trust. When she did that, I knew all my efforts would pay off.
My Splinter was doing that today! I come home from work and go to the cage to see him like I always do and talk to him, but today was the first day he started bruxing. It made me really happy, he's never done that before.
 

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Even though I'm a new rat owner myself, I can tell you this is not true.
I think they were referring to their own rats that haven't been handled. So it could be true that their rats just have not warmed up enough to yet show any affection towards them.

But yes rats are very capable of showing affection and love. many of my rats swarm me with love the moment they see me :) But sadly some rats with bad breeding or that have never been handled are going to take alot of effort to warm up to someone.

As with most animals, people just don't always understand their behavior. They don't understand that if a dog is growling, but still wagging his tail, he's not threatening anyone.
Well dogs can and do play growl. But just because they are wagging their tail doesn't always mean they are happy or a good thing. It is a fairly common misconception that tail wagging always means happy or playful. But in reality they can also wag their tails to show fear or aggression.

And in the same way cat purring doesn't always mean happy either and rats bruxing does often mean they are relaxed or content, but also rats brux often to just grind their teeth down. And both can happen when the animal is ill or in pain as well.
 

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...I focus on life rather then death...
Most definitely. I lost one of my very first boys last week at age 2.5. He and his brothers were/are the reason I know anything about rats. But I've lost rescues before, and by now I understand when it is time. Everyone is different. Someone mentioned not getting anyone new. I don't wait. In my eyes, I can't. Doesn't mean I've don't care. It's just that it's my job as their keeper/parent/provider to ensure that all of their needs are taken care of, including their social needs. For me, accepting that their lives are short means I know when to give them a good, painless, dignified death, which is something I regret not being able to give my first two rescues.

No matter how many companions (rats or otherwise) you lose, it never gets any easier. But no one can stop nature, which is why I accept it, hold my own version of a memorial service, say my farewell poem (blessing?), and try my best to move on. It's my way of thanking him and the others I've been graced with for loving and sharing with me. I'll torture myself if I don't. No one deserves the torment of holding on too long, not the keeper nor the suffering companion - no one.

Regardless of the outcome, I hope everything goes well for you. It's not easy - it never will be. But may you all be blessed.
 

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I understand your position, and agree that the only one truly regrettable thing about pet ownership is that, from the moment you welcome that pet into your life, you're setting yourself up for the pain of having to say goodbye. For me, it's a trade off. I would rather experience the joy, love, and yes, trials and tribulations, of pet ownership, rather than declining the good because I didn't want to experience the bad. Rats can become as important to us as any other pet and yes, they have a regrettably short life span. BUT from the rat's point of view that short little life span is normal, they age at what is the acceptable rate for their species, and have no other expectations. As their caregivers, it's up to us to ensure their lives are as full and content as we can make them and that, when their time has come, we help them over the bridge in a way that is respectful and humane. If, after your rat(s) passes you cannot bring yourself to welcome another one into your hear... that's fine, everyone is different, but consider this.... there are NEVER enough loving homes to go around, esp. for the lowly rat. So many are born and die without ever feeling a loving hand or being special to someone. Rats are such social little animals that I think a beloved pet would be pleased to know that when their time was done, their devoted owner would cherish another rat the same way.
Just my thoughts. :)
 

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Moonkissed,

I should have made myself more clear in my post. By new rat owner, I meant that I have never had rats before and I'm not an expert on rat behavoir. I got my first one about 5 weeks ago now. Even though I've never had rats, I still know that they do show affection.

My point in giving examples of behavoir was only to point out that we humans don't always understand that a pet is being affectionate in their behavoir. Especially about the dog wagging his tail even if he is growling. I've spent a lot of time with dogs and cats so I can tell if our dogs are only playing when they are both wagging a tail and growling at the same time.

I am still learning rat speak. So I'm glad to learn anything and everything about the a rat speak.
:D
 

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As much as I love rats, after owning them for about 7/8 years now (I think), I think I'm ready to "weed out". Once my lot passes, I'm unlikely to get any more within the next few years. I'm a very fragile person, and thus, the loss of a rat hits me hard. I'll probably get a second dog (one that will be mine when I move out of home) but I'm looking into getting a horse within the next year or so.

I just can't handle the deaths. Especially since I have girls varying in ages... It's like one rat dies, and less than a year later, another... Then maybe two years or so, it happens again. If they had a commonly expected lifespan of 5+ years I could do it, but 2 or 3 just is too painful for me.
 

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The shorter lifespan is one of the reasons I actually got into rats. I'm a college kid who still isn't completely settled in life. I can make the 2-3 year commitment for rats but commiting 15+ years to a dog or cat is more than I can guarantee at the current time. It is the same reason I have chosen to not get birds. I love my rats and they are wonderful. As long as I know my limits and don't let myself get too many, I can properly care for them and give them the things they deserve. Losing one every now and then is a price I am willing to pay. As long as I know they have had a good life in my care, which they have, I can handle it. I learned to move on a long time ago. I grow flowers each year and the rats I lose get planted with my flowers and help them grow. It also helps keep them close in my heart. If I lose them in the winter they get buried under a tree.
 
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