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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone!

I'm new to the forum, but figured i'd get some professionals advice, or at least, people that know way more than me about rats, on exactly what I need to do to bring two little boys into my home. I've convinced my dad to let me get them, as long as I get a job. Thats fairly easy. =D But now, i'd like some tips and advice. I've done tons of research, but many sites had different opinions on stuff, and i'd like to see your views on everything as well. I need to know everything, from housing, food, treats, toys, etc. I want these boys to be happy and healthy in their new home!

Thank you, Jme. <3



UPDATE**
So, no one is hiring at the moment at any of the local jobs. ._. So, i'm currently selling tons of things on ebay (ie. books, cds, ect.) But, I found out that I could easily take my book shelf in my room and turn that into a rat cage. It has two shelves and i can easily put wiring on it and such. :D But, i'm still looking for advice on well, everything. Ahah. So feel free to post!
 

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H'okay.

Housing: This is a big one. If at all possible, try to get a large cage. Your rats will spend a lot of their time in their cage, so it's better to have a large one. When in doubt about size, use the cage calculator to check. If at all possible, avoid aquariums (not enough ventilation). Avoid cages made of galvanized wire, as it can break down and give your rats zinc poisoning. If the cage comes with wire platforms, you should cover them with fleece or plastic needlepoint canvassing to make them safer.

Food: Some of the higher-rated lab blocks are Harlan Teklad, Oxbow Regal Rat, and Mazuri. It's a good idea to feed Suebee's rat mix along with a good-quality lab block. A word of warning, however: you'll have to order Harlan Teklad from a distributor like Kim's Ark if you decide to get it, because it's only available in very large amounts.
If you can't find any of the lab blocks above, look for something that's low in protein (14 to 18%) and fat. Also, try to make sure that there's as little corn aspossible, and completely avoid anything with alfalfa. Some dog foods are suitable, but keep in mind that many are quite low quality. You should also give the rats a small amount of table food too. (Fruit, vegetable, etc)

Bedding: Never keep rats on either pine or cedar shavings. Aspen shavings are fine, but they're not particularly good with absorption. I use Carefresh for my rats, and I think it's great. Some people hate it, some people love it. Also, Yesterday's News is quite popular as a litter, and other people say that it's great. I don't use it, though, so I can't tell you from personal experience.

Treats: Many treats are suitable. Lots of fruits and vegetables are good for your rats, plus they love them! Just check the diet sticky before you feed them anything you're not sure about.

Toys: Rats love playing with pretty much anything. Hammocks are a particular favourite among many ratties. There are many storebought toys you can get, but don't expect to find anything labeled "rat toy". Many ferret and bird toys are good - just stay away from hamster tubes, as they're much too small to fit a rat. If you decide to get a wheel for your rats, make sure it's at least 12 inches in diameter, and 15 inches is better. Wodent Wheels are good; since they have a solid surface, the rats' tails can't get hurt.
If you don't feel like spending alot, there are many substitutes around the house. For example, you could use an old empty (or not empty - rats love Kleenex!) tissue box in the cage for them to use as a nest box. I give my rats a fleece hat; they like stashing food in it. You could make tubes to run in out of plastic 2-litre pop bottles. Pretty much anything around the house that's made out of safe materials is game for a rat toy!

Hope that helped a bit! If anyone else has anything to add, please do, I know that this is incomplete!
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Ohwow, tons of info! Yay, :D My only problem with the food is that the only place i'm going to be able to get food is the pet store. =/ So, i'll need a brand that is aquirable there.

As for Yesterday's News, I use that for my kitties litter. She just had surgery, and our vet said that we needed to use that in her litter box so her wound wouldn't get infected. So, that could very well work for me!

Yeah, i've been reading -a lot- on homemade toys, and I think i'm going to have more fun making them than the ratties are playing with them! 8D
 

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You can still order Harlan Teklad if you live in America. Kim's Ark supplies various kinds of HT (I would suggest the Global 2014) for very cheap. She also ships directly to your front door, so very little work involved. All you have to do is go to the website, decide how much you want and what diet you want, and email Tracy with you zip code. She should email you back with the cost of shipping. Best of all, the profits go to the rat rescue!

Of course, if you don't live in America, things can get messy. Corico Distributions ships Oxbow Regal Rat to many countries, but keep in mind that Regal Rat can only be fed to rats over 4 months of age. Also, the food is pretty expensive.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I do live in America, but the problem is my parents. They'd think it was a waste of time for me to be ordering rat food, whether they say they want me to have the animal or not. >_< I'm sixteen, so its not like i'm a young child or something. But once I get a job, I guess I could just order it without their consent.
 

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Just tell them that it doesn't cost much - only 1$ per pound plus shipping. You wouldn't have to buy too much - 4 pounds should last two rats a couple of months at least - so it's probably even cheaper than store-bought food.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Oh wow, yeah then that'd probably be a lot better off for me since i'll be making minimum wage. The pricing on her treats and such don't look too bad, either.

Ah! I'm excited. XD I can't stop looking at everyones photos of their ratties.
 

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Make sure u leave the rats alone for the first 24+hours (this will be really hard lol)

Make sure they get safe free ranging time and arnt stuck in the cage 24/7

Make sure they are cleaned out every 2-3 days at first then u will soon realise how often the cage needs cleaning for example my mums rats need cleaning 3-4 times a week mine need 2-3 times a week cleaning at most.
Also use a cage friendly disinfectant - i use a my little friend disinfectant and its fine for my rats

Pets at home nuggets are a popular choice if u have one by u for make shift rat food - rats are selective eaters and will often leave the 'healthier' bits and just eat what they like the most mine done this on reggie rat..

Mine love old clothes ripped up and thrown in there cage for them to nest in - they also have a ferret hammock which they also love - charity shop get some baby clothes and rip them up or just chuck them in cheap - re-usuable and soft -

Treats remember not to give ur ratties to many - although i shouldnt say that because i give mine to many (slap on the hand for me)

Talk to ur rats lots they love human contact

Jess x
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I'll most definatly be getting a hammock. X] But, thank you for all the info junior!

Also, what type of cage should I get? Any suggestions from Petco/Petsmart? I have access to both. And if completly necessary, I could mostlikely order one from a site as well.
 

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I'd say look at both Petco AND Petsmart. We don't know what cages the stores in your area sell, so we couldn't tell you one way or the other. :)

See, the Petco I work at now has a terrible selection of cages, while the Petsmart has a decent selection... but the Petco I used to work at (before I moved and had to transfer) had a really awesome selection of large cages, and the Petsmart in that area had a bad selection. It just depends on the store itself. ^^

You could also find a local pet store in your area and see what cages they have too. Sometimes the small stores have better cages + products than the big-name pet stores.

Also, if you can order one from online, Martins (martinscages.com) makes really good quality cages. That's what I have for my girls. <3
Just make sure to get a powder coated one. It's a little more expensive, but totally worth it, as unlike the galvanized ones powder coated cages wont be destroyed by rat pee.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
Thank you, Sami! I was looking at Martins Cages last night, and was thinking about maybe purchasing one of those.

And Kima-chan, I was also looking at that exact cage online last night. ^_^ If anything, I could always order it and have it shipped to my house.

But I was thinking, my dad is in construction, and could probably very easily make me a cage. Is that possible? Is it safe for the rats?
 

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That is an option, but wood absorbs pee like a sponge and is impossible to clean thoroughly, so I'd recommend against it... unless your dad can build a cage without any wood. :) I think a wire cage would be pretty easy to build. All you'd really need is enough quality wire (no chicken wire.. I've heard rats can chew through this), a wire cutter and sander to make edges smooth, lots and lots of zip ties, a plastic base, pinch locks for the doors (you can order those for cheap at Martins) and a rat-safe paint to coat the wire with.

Your rats are going to be some lucky little whiskers with all the research you're doing for them!
 

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I think thats very possible for my dad. XD He's built some interesting things. (IE. Skateboard ramps, dog houses, cars, and well, huge commercial buildings.) But he said that we'd do what we need to do, whether thats buy a good quality cage, or make one.

Yay. :D I just want to be educated before getting them, I don't wanna make any life threatening mistakes. =/
 

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Take a look at mine or Bloodraven's cage (he has a thread going pretty strong, called "Homemade Rat Nation") if you're in the market for a cheap cage in the US. It'll take some handy work, but it's super cheap. It's metal mesh squares, meant for shelving but it makes a mean cage! Two boxes are only $30, and it can make a wonderfully huge cage.
 
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