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I believe there was an article somewhere with a step-by-step on how to prepare fleece to be used as bedding (so that it wicks properly) as well as cleaning and whatnot.
I've already got this in my notes :)

In my experience, IF your rats are not chewers and IF they are litter box trained and finally IF the fleece is well secured using fleece is great. I prefer it to wood or paper substrate. Use the 'hook' side sticky back Velcro on the bottom of the shelf. It holds the fleece pretty good. As long as there is no loose fleece, my rats won't pull it up, chew on it, or burrow under it. I also use puppy training pads under 2 layers of fleece. I haven't had ANY problems with odors as long as the litter box is changed out ever day.


 

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Seriously, people who don't have the time or aren't willing to put in the effort to properly train their dogs, most likely shouldn't own them in the first place.
Ditto.

One day when I was still working with animal shelters and rescues, I was in front of Spec's liquor store. I know it seems odd!

One guy I talked, who didn't want to help, had just walked out of with a huge bottle of Crown Royal. He told me he wanted to get rid of his dog because it it wouldn't stay in his unfenced yard. He lived in the neighboring county, so the one I was representing couldn't take his dog. I suggested getting one of those buried wires with a collar that would give the dog a mild shock to keep him in.

This man, who just spent a butt load of money on liquor and drove a big, shiny new truck told me he couldn't afford a fence.

He told me that if my shelter would not take his dog, he was just going to dump it out for the coyotes to take care his problem.

It was SO gratifying to look him straight in the eye, with obvious scorn and tell him he should NEVER have ANY pets.
 

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It's been a few decades since I was last in Germany, But I do recall the people on my Lufthansa flight sitting by the emergency door with their dog at their feet... And yes the dog flew in the cabin with them... I asked and they told me that the dog had been tranquilized to keep it calm... But I also recall the cockpit door was open and the flight crew was giving tours to kids while drinking cocktails. So some things might have changed...

But in Germany, as I recall there was an obscene dog tax. You had to be a pretty hard core dog lover with financial resources to own a dog. I think the high cost of ownership made people take better care of their dogs and better train them... Most of the dogs I saw in the city were exceptionally well behaved and yes they were treated with a lot more respect than in the US. Simply put, German dog owners were expected to be more responsible and their dogs got more respect for it.

Seriously, people who don't have the time or aren't willing to put in the effort to properly train their dogs, most likely shouldn't own them in the first place.
The dog tax here is for large dogs, which I still think is ridiculous. I don't know at what size dogs here are considered large. In Berlin at least you'll see that a lot of dogs are off leash and follow commands extremely well. There's even a blog called "Dogs waiting in Berlin" that showcases how obedient they are. I think this is more out of necessity living in a big city than anything else. Personally I still feel that people should be more courteous and keep them on a leash around small children, in restaurants or other animals. However most of the time the dogs and owners here seem to work really well together with commands and crossing the road, it's quite a sight to see.

And from time to time you'll see the occasional shoulder rat! A friend of mine told me he met a guy carrying around his rat the other day.
 

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Germans tend to do things better. It's more in the culture to pick one something and do it really well. Americans tend to be more novelty driven and take on more activities or interests which in turn they don't do as well. I know that's a generalization... some people are actually very good at doing several things at a time... but if you only have one pet and limit your other interests, you are more likely to train it better.

And shoulder rats do take a lot of time to train and test and work with... It's something you are more likely to do if your interests are limited to training rats and you aren't distracted by 20 other hobbies.
 

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Discussion Starter #45
@Catty - yes, everyone

...And shoulder rats do take a lot of time to train and test and work with... It's something you are more likely to do if your interests are limited to training rats and you aren't distracted by 20 other hobbies.
The only way around this is if you do like I did and start early on a different thing. Though I'm not sure I could say I did anything particularly different since it was dog training. And if you've mastered training one species, you've easily laid the foundation for everything else.
 

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I think it'd be super fantastic to have a guide of some kind on dominance behavior and healthy hierarchy establishment. I just got several new rats and had to have a couple of panic attacks because I had no idea the difference between normal Squabbles and all out brawls.I was also unaware that they always periodically do it. I was under the impression that once introductions were over they'd be best friends for life. So that threw me off.I'm not asking any questions, just illustrating what I had to recently learn as a newby. So that, I'm sure, would be very useful to most anyone who starts out with several rats.
 

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I think it'd be super fantastic to have a guide of some kind on dominance behavior and healthy hierarchy establishment. I just got several new rats and had to have a couple of panic attacks because I had no idea the difference between normal Squabbles and all out brawls.I was also unaware that they always periodically do it. I was under the impression that once introductions were over they'd be best friends for life. So that threw me off.I'm not asking any questions, just illustrating what I had to recently learn as a newby. So that, I'm sure, would be very useful to most anyone who starts out with several rats.
Yes and I think videos should be included in that section because you can only describe it so much. That's the kind of thing that needs to be seen.
 

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The main difference between training dogs and rats is that dogs almost always take you seriously and listen once they know their commands.... Rats sometimes think you are kidding or there's something more important that they should be doing... or sooner or later, when you train rats long enough... they just look at you like you have lost your mind when you tell them to do something...

Actually rats do read your body language and tone of voice to decide whether your command is important or not, so some rats are really great outdoors but don't pay you much mind indoors when your commands really aren't life or death....

Outdoors our rats tend to follow commands pretty well... indoors they are merely suggestions and when they disagree, apparently I have my share of bad suggestions.
 

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Actually rats do read your .......tone of voice to decide whether your command is important or not....
I can say in my own experience that this is absolutely true. Anga can definitely tell by the tone of my voice that what I'm telling her is imperative. Like a dog, she does NOT want me to be unhappy with her. When she knows it's imperative, she runs straight to me. If it's not so imperative, she ignores me!
 

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Discussion Starter #50
I think it'd be super fantastic to have a guide of some kind on dominance behavior and healthy hierarchy establishment. I just got several new rats and had to have a couple of panic attacks because I had no idea the difference between normal Squabbles and all out brawls.I was also unaware that they always periodically do it. I was under the impression that once introductions were over they'd be best friends for life. So that threw me off.I'm not asking any questions, just illustrating what I had to recently learn as a newby. So that, I'm sure, would be very useful to most anyone who starts out with several rats.
The squabbles could be filmed since they're harmless, but the death matches would have to be of wild rats or something because if there's a death match going on, I'm probably in it to break it up.
 

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It would be great if someone had the foresight to mount a camera that shows the whole introduction area so they have hands-free recording of everything that happens. That way if brawls do happen they can be recorded AND broken up lol. I'd do it but 1. My camera is my phone and can't take long videos and 2. My rats are too sweet! Besides a little bit of pinning and power grooming they never have any problems. With a few introductions I was able to skip the carrier part entirely!
 

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It would be great if someone had the foresight to mount a camera that shows the whole introduction area so they have hands-free recording of everything that happens. That way if brawls do happen they can be recorded AND broken up lol. I'd do it but 1. My camera is my phone and can't take long videos and 2. My rats are too sweet! Besides a little bit of pinning and power grooming they never have any problems. With a few introductions I was able to skip the carrier part entirely!
I saw a video on YouTube of introductions gone wrong. I'll look it up and ask permission to put a link to it.
 

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Discussion Starter #54
Yeah - someone else might need to handle the intros. My method is "Toss everyone in a bathroom and toss a towel on them if they scuffle." Never had any real problems out of the 20+ rats I've introduced. The only fight/injury I ever had was in a carrier, so we can all see why I don't use that anymore.
 

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Would you guys consider the idea of putting together a post in here for beginners to learn how to teach their rats tricks? And like an amalgamation of all the tricks you guys know that can be taught, maybe divided into easy (name, come, up/down) to the more complex ones? Just thinking out loud :) I like this idea btw.
 

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Discussion Starter #57
Would you guys consider the idea of putting together a post in here for beginners to learn how to teach their rats tricks? And like an amalgamation of all the tricks you guys know that can be taught, maybe divided into easy (name, come, up/down) to the more complex ones? Just thinking out loud
I like this idea btw.
I'm pretty sure there's a YouTube channel devoted to rat agility that we can link up. I'll look for it later when I have a real Internet connection.
 

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Habitat Guide Final Draft, with preserved formatting!!

Habitat

  • Cage Attribute Musts!!!
    • Bar spacing be no more than 1/2"
    • Some adults and male rats can be housed with bars up to 3/4" or even up to 1" spacing
    • Bars should be horizontal because rats need climbing space
    • Minimum of 2.5 square feet per rat
    • Cage size calculators
    • Avoid mesh grates and bars on levels where rats will be walking, including ramps, it's hard on their feet and can lead bumble foot
    • Must be well ventilated due to URI sensitivities
    • Aquariums are highly discouraged due to poor ventilation!!
    • Avoid cages with plastic bottoms, some rats will chew them to escape the cage

  • Helpful Cage Attributes
    • Doors that are large enough for YOU to have easy access to the cage.
      • Makes for easier cleaning
      • Arranging items in the cage, hammocks, toys, hide huts, hammocks etc.
      • Litter box training
    • Raised edges to keep litter and poops inside the cage

  • Cage Accessories
    • Lots of Hammocks
    • Toys and puzzles
    • Hide huts and other places to hide
    • Lava ledges or natural pumice
    • Wheels
      • Only use toe and tail safe wheels
        • Safe wheels have a smooth surface with traction for paws
      • Wheels should be at least 12"


  • Feeding Supplies
    • Heavy bowls or bowls that are hard to turn over
    • More than one is a good idea for supplementing block food with fresh fruit and vegetables
    • Water bottles
      • It's a good idea to provide more than one. Water bottles can leak and malfunction
      • Most people don't use bowls for water because raisins tend to end up in the bowl, they get turned over and /or rats may try to hide the water with absorbent materials in the cage
Cleaning the cage

  • Should be cleaned weekly
  • A deep cleaning should be performed monthly
  • Safe cleaners
    • Vinegar
    • Dish soap
    • Peroxide, good for neutralizing ammonia

  • Substrate
  • Things to Avoid
    • Cedar and Pine Shavings
    • Should be dust free

  • Fleece
    • Should be 100% polyester to wick urine down
    • Absorbent layer should be placed under fleece soak to up urine
    • Fleece Pros
      • No litter to get tossed out of the cage
      • Easier to clean floors of cage
      • I personally think it's easier on the feet
      • More fun to decorate the cage
      • Relatively inexpensive
      • Can be reused
  • Cons
    • Not always easy to secure it well to the floors and shelves
    • Some rats will pull it up, chew on it and burrow under it, especially if it's not well secured
    • If your rats sleep under fleece with urine build up, it can be toxic to your rats
    • Little to no odor control if not used properly
    • Takes more time to set up
    • Best for litter box trained rats
  • Notes
    • Attaching the 'hook' side of Velcro to the bottom side of shelves helps keep fleece in place and seems to discourage chewing and burrowing
    • Probably best used in large cages
    • Use a scent free laundry detergent, 'free and clear'
    • Using fabric softener will decrease wicking ability of fleece
    • Scent free puppy training pads can be used IF your rats are not chewers
    • Peroxide added to laundry detergent to clean fleece will neutralize ammonia
  • For more details on the proper use and recommendations for fleece

  • Shredded Paper
    • Pros
      • No worries about chewing it up
      • Rats can burrow in it, removing the need for dig boxes
      • Easy to clean, just dump and replace.
      • Low maintenance and easy to set up
    • Cons
      • Can be messy
      • Can be difficult to find dust free
      • Even with higher edges on the shelf, it can end up outside of the cage
      • Can be more difficult to litter box train
      • Not reusable
    • Notes
      • ONLY USE UNSCENTED
      • MUST BE DUST FREE
  • Wood Shavings
    • Pros
      • No worries about chewing it up
      • Superior odor control for rats that are not litter box trained
      • Rats can burrow in it, removing the need for dig boxes
      • Easy to clean, just dump and replace.
      • Low maintenance and easy to set up
      • Inexpensive
    • Cons
      • Can be messy
      • Can be difficult to find dust free
      • Even with higher edges on the shelf, it can end up outside of the cage
      • Can be more difficult to litter box train
    • Notes
      • Most people agree that aspen is the best choice of wood
      • DO NOT USE CEDAR OR PINE SHAVINGS
      • The use of kiln dried pine is debatable

  • Hemp( available in the UK)
    • Pros
      • The substrate does not smell
      • Good at absorbing odors
      • Not dusty
      • Soft
      • Easy to throw out or use in compost
      • Safe for rats to use
    • Cons
      • This stuff tends to be full of static, not like you or your rats would get shocked, but when you're cleaning it can fly everywhere
      • It gets everywhere unfortunately, rats kick it out of the cage, and if you use fleece for their baskets it'll end up in your laundry.
For more information on cages and recommendations, see the sticky 'Choosing a Good Cage For Your Rats'
http://www.ratforum.com/showthread.p...our-Rats-GUIDE







Habitat

  • Cage Attribute Musts!!!
    • Bar spacing be no more than 1/2"
    • Some adults and male rats can be housed with bars up to 3/4" or even up to 1" spacing
    • Bars should be horizontal because rats need climbing space
    • Minimum of 2.5 square feet per rat
    • Cage size calculators
    • Avoid mesh grates and bars on levels where rats will be walking, including ramps, it's hard on their feet and can lead bumble foot
    • Must be well ventilated due to URI sensitivities
    • Aquariums are highly discouraged due to poor ventilation!!
    • Avoid cages with plastic bottoms, some rats will chew them to escape the cage

  • Helpful Cage Attributes
    • Doors that are large enough for YOU to have easy access to the cage.
      • Makes for easier cleaning
      • Arranging items in the cage, hammocks, toys, hide huts, hammocks etc.
      • Litter box training
    • Raised edges to keep litter and poops inside the cage

  • Cage Accessories
    • Lots of Hammocks
    • Toys and puzzles
    • Hide huts and other places to hide
    • Lava ledges or natural pumice
    • Wheels
      • Only use toe and tail safe wheels
        • Safe wheels have a smooth surface with traction for paws
      • Wheels should be at least 12"


  • Feeding Supplies
    • Heavy bowls or bowls that are hard to turn over
    • More than one is a good idea for supplementing block food with fresh fruit and vegetables
    • Water bottles
      • It's a good idea to provide more than one. Water bottles can leak and malfunction
      • Most people don't use bowls for water because raisins tend to end up in the bowl, they get turned over and /or rats may try to hide the water with absorbent materials in the cage
Cleaning the cage

  • Should be cleaned weekly
  • A deep cleaning should be performed monthly
  • Safe cleaners
    • Vinegar
    • Dish soap
    • Peroxide, good for neutralizing ammonia

  • Substrate
  • Things to Avoid
    • Cedar and Pine Shavings
    • Should be dust free

  • Fleece
    • Should be 100% polyester to wick urine down
    • Absorbent layer should be placed under fleece soak to up urine
    • Fleece Pros
      • No litter to get tossed out of the cage
      • Easier to clean floors of cage
      • I personally think it's easier on the feet
      • More fun to decorate the cage
      • Relatively inexpensive
      • Can be reused
  • Cons
    • Not always easy to secure it well to the floors and shelves
    • Some rats will pull it up, chew on it and burrow under it, especially if it's not well secured
    • If your rats sleep under fleece with urine build up, it can be toxic to your rats
    • Little to no odor control if not used properly
    • Takes more time to set up
    • Best for litter box trained rats
  • Notes
    • Attaching the 'hook' side of Velcro to the bottom side of shelves helps keep fleece in place and seems to discourage chewing and burrowing
    • Probably best used in large cages
    • Use a scent free laundry detergent, 'free and clear'
    • Using fabric softener will decrease wicking ability of fleece
    • Scent free puppy training pads can be used IF your rats are not chewers
    • Peroxide added to laundry detergent to clean fleece will neutralize ammonia
  • For more details on the proper use and recommendations for fleece

  • Shredded Paper
    • Pros
      • No worries about chewing it up
      • Rats can burrow in it, removing the need for dig boxes
      • Easy to clean, just dump and replace.
      • Low maintenance and easy to set up
    • Cons
      • Can be messy
      • Can be difficult to find dust free
      • Even with higher edges on the shelf, it can end up outside of the cage
      • Can be more difficult to litter box train
      • Not reusable
    • Notes
      • ONLY USE UNSCENTED
      • MUST BE DUST FREE
  • Wood Shavings
    • Pros
      • No worries about chewing it up
      • Superior odor control for rats that are not litter box trained
      • Rats can burrow in it, removing the need for dig boxes
      • Easy to clean, just dump and replace.
      • Low maintenance and easy to set up
      • Inexpensive
    • Cons
      • Can be messy
      • Can be difficult to find dust free
      • Even with higher edges on the shelf, it can end up outside of the cage
      • Can be more difficult to litter box train
    • Notes
      • Most people agree that aspen is the best choice of wood
      • DO NOT USE CEDAR OR PINE SHAVINGS
      • The use of kiln dried pine is debatable

  • Hemp( available in the UK)
    • Pros
      • The substrate does not smell
      • Good at absorbing odors
      • Not dusty
      • Soft
      • Easy to throw out or use in compost
      • Safe for rats to use
    • Cons
      • This stuff tends to be full of static, not like you or your rats would get shocked, but when you're cleaning it can fly everywhere
      • It gets everywhere unfortunately, rats kick it out of the cage, and if you use fleece for their baskets it'll end up in your laundry.
For more information on cages and recommendations, see the sticky 'Choosing a Good Cage For Your Rats'
http://www.ratforum.com/showthread.p...our-Rats-GUIDE
 
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