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Yes, yes, I know... we should all hopefully try to rescue abandoned rats or purchase our rats from a breeder; however, my car isn't exactly what I call 'trustworthy' and the nearest breeder is two hours away. Therefore, I just went to a PetsMart to get my rats.

I bought two. And, for the moment (and to fit my budget), they have a cage that SHOULD fit them for a couple of months while my bank account slowly recoups. They have plenty of treats... and frozen veggies, crackers, and open access to whatever (clean) foods that I eat (unspiced meats, etc.).

But I do have a couple of questions that I would very much appreciate being answered from someone more seasoned in the arts of owning rats... in my adult life, up to this point, all I've ever owned is a cat (who I still own).

Lenny (my beige and white splotched rat) is a balls-to-the-wall, no frills kinda guy. He don't care what's going on... if there's something happening, he seems to want to be a part of it. I've had him for a week and he's already inching his way onto my hand.

George (my black and white rat) is a bit more of a shy guy... sometimes, I don't know if he's just miserable in his new surroundings or if he's just shy. I'm sure that rats are like dogs/humans/cats in that some are just predisposed to being sociable/adventurous while others are not.

So, I guess, here's my questions:

- Should I be concerned that a week in to this whole thing that George, while he'll groom my hand and stuff, has no interest in leaving his cage?

- If he doesn't settle down and get brave in a week, should I consider taking him back to the store? I love the little dude, and it's not like he's aggressively mean, he just seems to be happier sleeping in his little igloo or bummin' around the cage.

- I'm using an igloo at the moment that fits the ratties fine; however, I know they'll eventually outgrow it. The larger options are utterly obscene in terms of their size (I only ever plan on having two rats at once, not 4-5). Is there a good medium-sized tuckaway for my lil' buddies? 8"L x 6"W x 5"H?

- Any other tips and pointers for a new rat owner? I'm in love w/ my lil' doodz. I bathe them in treats, veggies, etc., but I want to make sure that, in their short life, they feel they're well cared for... even with a cat being in the house (who isn't allowed to get within 3-4 ft. of the cage).

Unfortunately, I don't have the square footage in my small apartment for a free-range room... but, outside of that, I'm open for suggestions.

Thanks for all your help. I love my lil' rats!!! :)

M.
 

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Be patient with them. You have them now, returning them or trading them in really should never be an option... they are a living breathing creature due more regard than like exchanging a pair of shoes because they don't fit quite right. When you bring home a pet, even a 2 dollar one, you have to look at that as being a lifetime commitment. Impulsive choices regarding getting pets will almost always result in the pet getting dealt a raw deal.

The first step that would have assured you friendly rat that welcomed your touch was missed... when you purchase a rat with unknown history or temperament the best policy is to allow the rat to pick you rather than you pick them. The interesting looking rat with cool coloring may catch your eye but this doesn't mean you won his heart. If you allow the rat to pick you, one can almost always find a friendly rat that is interested in hanging out with you from the get go.

Since your crew is a bit shy you will just need to offer them your time & patience. They'll eventually come around.

Secondly... please read the section on proper diet.

http://ratforum.com/Forums/viewtopic/t=3079.html

You may want to give that a good going over because it doesn't sound like you have that quite worked out. It really doesn't cost a lot to feed them properly & to be honest, budget be damned... you brought them home, you are just gonna need to care for them properly.

What pet store did you go to? Maybe they carry a rat lab block. It isn't my personal first choice but it is better than tables scraps. There are many sites listed on the diet thread where you can buy a premium lab block by the pound or in 3 to 5 pound packs. That would last a long time with your two little guys.

As for the Igloo & such... here is where you can save a great deal of money... save the boxes you would toss in the garbage. You can use pasta boxes, boxes from your cereal or tissue boxes. You can also offer them the cardboard tubes from toilet paper & paper towel rolls. ALl of that is stuff they can chew up, hide in & you can toss out with no additional cost to yourself.

You can use an old t-shirt or any other soft article of clothing that you have removed buttons or zippers from. Hang them from the bars of their cage, wrap them around object & turn them into little caves... use your imagination.

There are so many ways to make or create cage accessories without spending a cent. Use those kind of tips, save the cash & invest what you saved in providing them with a proper diet because that proper diet is essential to them living a full life. That free food of eating your scraps would actually shorten their lives or cause possible health problems in time.

Good luck with your crew.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
A1APassion said:
Be patient with them. You have them now, returning them or trading them in really should never be an option... they are a living breathing creature due more regard than like exchanging a pair of shoes because they don't fit quite right. When you bring home a pet, even a 2 dollar one, you have to look at that as being a lifetime commitment. Impulsive choices regarding getting pets will almost always result in the pet getting dealt a raw deal.
Agreed. Glad to hear an affirmation of my instincts.

The first step that would have assured you friendly rat that welcomed your touch was missed... when you purchase a rat with unknown history or temperament the best policy is to allow the rat to pick you rather than you pick them. The interesting looking rat with cool coloring may catch your eye but this doesn't mean you won his heart. If you allow the rat to pick you, one can almost always find a friendly rat that is interested in hanging out with you from the get go.
Lenny was certainly the rat that picked me. George, at first, appeared to be of the same type; however, it wasn't until a day or so of having been at my place that he seemed to be a tad shy-er.

Since your crew is a bit shy you will just need to offer them your time & patience. They'll eventually come around.
I certainly have been. The extra attention has brought out their unique personalities, for sure...

You may want to give that a good going over because it doesn't sound like you have that quite worked out. It really doesn't cost a lot to feed them properly & to be honest, budget be damned... you brought them home, you are just gonna need to care for them properly.
I hear that. I've been doing my best to stock up on various veggies, nuts, and yogies. I've also picked up a blend that the pet store CLAIMED was a balanced diet, but I'm tempted to check out the Suebee's rat blend that seems so popular. I'm sure that w/ the expense will also come long-term sustainability.

Use those kind of tips, save the cash & invest what you saved in providing them with a proper diet because that proper diet is essential to them living a full life.
Certainly diet > habitat; however, I would still like to find them a long-term solution that's not only (relatively) inexpensive like their current igloo, but that doesn't also cut down on their available amount of living space.

Good luck with your crew.
And many thanks for your kind wishes. These lil' dudes are really cool. I don't think they'll be my last rats in my lifetime w/ what I've seen so far. I've even managed to sway the prejudices of my family members around from "swamp-rat-disease-carriers" to "cute-sweet-little-critters"!! :D

M.
 

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ok, long term solution that is inexpensive.

These Dollar Store types of places have plastic show box storage bins that you can put misc items in or even food items. Check those areas of the store out. I mean, an igloo is just a fancy bowl flipped over. I use plastic show bow containers & cut one end off to make a cubby for them to snuggle in. YOu can wash these & return them to the cage. I have several that have been in use for several months & I think I paid 25 cents a piece for them. I have also taken the large plastic jugs from drinks or even milk jugs & cut a whole in the side & then punctured a couple holes on one side & zip tied these to the side of the cage. This actually utilized air space in the acge that was otherwise wasted. I don't know about your rats but mine are "spider rats" or miniature monkeys. They climb all over. When I hang the jugs in the turn it into a game of king of the mountain. They rush up to it & take turns shoving each other out. I end up having to hand several jugs around so everyone has their own. Those sturdy Gatorade bottles work great. I've never had any of those chewed up.


Be very careful with the nuts & the yoggies. These are not food items that should be given out freely. I never use yoggies... they are far too sugary. Nuts have to be used in moderation. I only offer nuts like once a week if that. I will buy a small scoop of unshelled peanuts or sunflower seeds & give them like one peanut or several sunflower seed by hand as a treat ONLY.

Try some of these foods instead. You can buy a big can of plain oatmeal from the grocery store for under 2 bucks. If you don't eat the stuff then that can will last a very long time. Rats love rolled oats. You can feed them dry or cook them up. Cheerios cereal is pretty good so long as it is the one without added sugar. Kashi whole grains without the sugary maple or honey coating. Some stores even sell the puffed wheat or puffed rice in bags that cost under a buck... look for all of this in the cereal section.

A cheap bag of mixed vegetables can be bought for under a dollar & that would last a very long time. Be sure to offer the veggies & fruits in moderation because this can cause their stool to become too soft & this makes for an icky cage & upset tummies.

Start reading the labels on the senior dog kibble. Start looking for the lowest protein percentage available. The lower the better. Some places sell trail size bags for a couple bucks. This would last a long time because they are only going to eat a 3 or maybe 5 pieces a day depending on how big the kibble nugget turns out to be.

These are all better choices. Maybe not the premium ones you will read about but it will at least get them on track. Don't get them hooked on a junk food diet of fatty foods & sweets because you will have a devil of a time getting them to eat what is good for them when the times comes that you could offer them a premium diet.
 

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It is not that hard to rat proof a room in an apartment. We have done it in my apartment. I use the main room, and block the kitchen off with a long board, and then close the other doors. I have taped exposed outlets on all my power strips and have covered hard to access hiding spots.

You have to watch them, sure... and wait for them to be basically potty trained, as in, when you can trust them to be out for an hour and not poop outside the cage. You could also leave the cage on the floor and they will go inside to do their business, drink, eat, and come out again. It can be a lot of fun and a lot of work too, but it can be worth it. I have a very clean place, and I have all my furniture arranged in a way that leaves space open and around so I never have to worry about having to reach for a rat under the couch. I am a neat freak, so if you are not, it may not work for you.

I suggest the alternative of either placing a sheet over the couch or bed and letting them roam there... however, there will come a time when at least one discovers how to jump down to the floor. Be prepared for that.

Luckily, the ones that can hold themselves are the ones that discovered the floor. The others we keep on a several layer sheet on the couch with an old towel to play with and hide under. We usually only have to worry about one of them finding a way on my desk or somewhere else where there is stuff that you don't want them to take a chew on. Like I said... you still have to keep an eye on them.
 

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A far as free range - I use a large craft table. If you use your dining room table - or something like it - you can buy a large sheet or something to drape over it for sanitary reasons...

Also, I want to second the dollar tree store idea! I have found more fabulous rat things there than all the pet stores put together. You just need to think like a rat.

I use Suebee's and 1/2 Total cereal and 1/2 Wellness lite adult dog food. All in all, I think I spend about $25 every three months with 4 rats. Not bad!

Annnnnd...

Never underestimate the appeal of a toilet paper roll with treats closed inside!!!
 

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I had much the same thing happen. I "rescued" a rat from a pet store..he was all alone in a cage and looked so unhappy. I brought him home and he simply didn't know how to socalize. It took some time and patience, probably over a month, before he really settled in. Now he's a sweet, loving boy although he'd still much rather hang out in his cage. He's happy to have me take him out of his cage...he rarely comes out on his own..and is just as happy to be put back in. Just give your guy some time and go slowly, he'll come around.
 
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