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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Are your rats toilet trained? Do they pee and poop when they're out of the cage? Is it possible to train them so that they don't go when they're out of the cage and/or only go in a litter box? For those of you who have toilet trained your rat, how often, if ever, do they have accidents?
 

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My girls never crap out of the cage. And only rarely do they urinate out of the cage.
 

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Rats have fast metabolisms, so although my older rats try not to poop on me they do when they have to. All my rats no matter what age they are urinate one me, so I have special rat clothes for that purpose in addition to their chewing behaviour. My 'rat clothes' have huge holes in them, destroyed necklines, and ripped seams and there is a big pile of them.

My boys urinate outside their cage more than my girls and will leave pee trails wherever they walk which includes people.
 

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My rats never poop on me! But I usually don't keep them out more than 15 minutes, and they always have access to their litter box.

All rats pee mark when they explore, some rats are more obvious about this than others. There's lots of great info online (and on this forum) about litter box training. Litter box training is highly acheivable if you have realistic goals.
 

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I have litter-box trained my rats for the past 20 years. It's very rare for any of my rats to urinate or defecate on me.

Inside their cage, I train them to urinate and defecate on cardboard trays covered with several layers of paper towels. (These are their “litter boxes”.) I start by placing a “litter box” in a corner of each level of their cage. In the beginning, if I find they are defecating elsewhere in their cage, I'll place a litter box in that location as well. If I still find any feces outside of their litter boxes, I place the poop into the closest litter box to where they’d defecated outside the box while they're in the cage. That way they can see what I'm doing and it helps them learn. If I see them start to urinate in an area other than their litter box, I gently scoop them up and place them in a litter box. While doing this I say "paper towel" so they associate the words with their litter box. I change out the used paper towels on a daily basis so there’s no odor build-up from urine or feces.

After they're litter box trained inside their cage, I can take them out on a sofa or in any room and put out one or more stacks of paper towels. If I’m on the sofa, I usually just place a stack in each corner of the sofa. If I’m in a room, I place a stack of paper towels in each corner of the room or any other area that looks like they’d like to use it as a bathroom. Generally 3-5 paper towels in a stack are a good number to be absorbent enough so that the surface beneath doesn't get soiled. When I first take them out onto a sofa or into a room outside their cage, I might place them directly on the paper towels and say "paper towel" even if they don't need to go to the bathroom. Usually they automatically use the paper towels as their bathroom when outside their cage. If they don't, I use the same method I use in their cage: If they begin urinating or defecating, I gently move them to the paper towels and say "paper towel". Likewise, if I see they're using an area for their bathroom where there isn't a stack of paper towels, I place the paper towels in their chosen location and then they start using them.

If I'm out and about with my rats on my shoulders, they usually "tell" me they have to go to the bathroom by getting antsy and acting like they want off my shoulders. I simply place them on paper towels and let them use the bathroom. (If I have them out on my shoulder, I generally have paper towels nearby in case they need to urinate or defecate.) After they use the bathroom, they’re ready to be back on my shoulder.
Inside the cage, it is more difficult to teach urinating in the litter box since we're not always there to catch them when they urinate elsewhere. (It’s easier to pick up the poop and place it in the right spot, but we can’t do that with urine!) I'd say that while in their cage, my rats defecate in their litter box 90% of the time and urinate in the box about 60% of the time. When out of the cage, they're pretty much 99% trained since I'm right there with them to guide them to make the choice to use the paper towels.

It’s really fun to train them and very worthwhile, too!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for all your feedbacks!

Zooming Fuzlet - WOW! So they're like dogs? I didn't think they would be that smart! :D
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
They're smarter than you can ever imagine! I wrote a funny blog post about what some of my rats did "for fun" and to "make a statement" with their litter boxes: http://aboutpetrats.com/2287.html

Keep us posted with how it goes during your training process if you feel like it!
Hello! I have checked out your site - very interesting and informative for a newbie like me! ;D That's creative - putting formerly used two corner litter boxes on top of the other two where you want them to go. Why did Brenda pee on the cat toy at all? To mark it?:confused:
 

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Hello! I have checked out your site - very interesting and informative for a newbie like me! ;D That's creative - putting formerly used two corner litter boxes on top of the other two where you want them to go. Why did Brenda pee on the cat toy at all? To mark it?:confused:
Hi Munchies!

My take on it is that Brenda peed on the cat toy because she wanted to make a statement about cats. It was her way of demonstrating exactly what she thought of them. It was incredible she didn't pee on the toy until after she'd placed it in her litter box!!! It really cracked me up the things those two girls did!

I'm glad my site is helpful....I have so much more to add. :) It's my mission in life to be able to help new rat owners learn the essentials so they can achieve the optimum health and most enjoyment from their first rats. It amazes me how much there is to learn about pet rats, especially in the beginning. It reminds me a bit of gardening with exotic plants.....they need just the right soil, temperature, nutrients, etc.

Have you started litter box training your rats? Can't wait to hear how it's going!
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Hi Munchies!

My take on it is that Brenda peed on the cat toy because she wanted to make a statement about cats. It was her way of demonstrating exactly what she thought of them. It was incredible she didn't pee on the toy until after she'd placed it in her litter box!!! It really cracked me up the things those two girls did!

I'm glad my site is helpful....I have so much more to add. :) It's my mission in life to be able to help new rat owners learn the essentials so they can achieve the optimum health and most enjoyment from their first rats. It amazes me how much there is to learn about pet rats, especially in the beginning. It reminds me a bit of gardening with exotic plants.....they need just the right soil, temperature, nutrients, etc.

Have you started litter box training your rats? Can't wait to hear how it's going!
Hello! ;D Imagine if Brenda then took the peed on toy to your cat? :D LOL

I haven't gotten my rats yet - still waiting to see what the breeders have available. In the meantime, I've been reading more about rats and started to get their home ready ("nesting", if you will :p). And, OMG, I hope raising rats won't be as complicated as gardening. I'm a novice's novice when it comes to gardening, and despite reading about all the requirements and following instructions to a t, I still manage to botch things. First year - tried sugar snap peas. Results - one pea... ONE pea! Second year - ginger. Result - what survived raccoon excavation only sprouted tiny roots before the growing season ended (I live in Canada - not really a good place to grow ginger. :p). This year - cucumbers (was told it's easy to grow). Result - 5 cucumbers from 9 plants. They also looked deformed. :-\

Anyway, you mentioned in your site that you prefer male rats and that you recommend having them neutered? Are yours neutered? Do they still smell after neutering? Also, how much does neutering cost and at what age should you neuter them?
 

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You ask the best questions, Munchies! That is such a funny thought---"imagine if Brenda took the peed on toy to give it back to my cat?"!!!!! Love it!

Your gardening experiences are fun to read about although I understand they weren't very satisfying experiences for you. That's amazing you only had ONE pea when you attempted to grow the sugar snap peas. Wow! I guess that's better than none, though, right?! Must've been a very special pea. :)

I do prefer male rats. I'm glad I've had the experience of having both sexes but the males are so much more warm, friendly and cuddly. Interesting that I wrote that male rats should be neutered. I no longer feel this way! I keep learning and changing all the time so I'll need to read over my site and update some of what I've written. I am SO GLAD you asked about this. I now believe males do not necessarily need to be neutered unless they are behaving aggressively or you are tiring of them marking.

I do believe female rats should be spayed as long as you have a veterinarian who's very experienced at spaying rats. When female rats are spayed, the chances of them developing mammary tumors decreases dramatically. For males, neutering them doesn't significantly alter their health. From my experience, the main thing it does help with is aggression. However, if boy rats aren't behaving aggressively, there really isn't a good reason to neuter. (....unless you'd like the boy(s) to live with an unspayed female.)

Regarding the smell of an unneutered rat. They do have a slightly musky scent. I actually really like the smell and do not find it unpleasant. The other thing that happens if the boys aren't neutered is they can develop orange-ish patches on their skin. This is because they have more oils in their skin when they're not neutered.

Male rats can be neutered at any age and most people recommend the earlier the better. Their testicles drop down at around 4 weeks of age. Some say don't neuter rats older than 18 months due to anesthesia risks. I, personally, will now only neuter a male rat if they show signs of aggression. I have had male rats who didn't become aggressive until they were over two years old. They were successfully neutered even at a more advanced age.

The cost of neutering a male rat varies greatly depending on where you live and the clinic you choose. My guess is the range can be anywhere from $50 - $150. The best way to find this out would be to call veterinary hospitals who have veterinarians who see rats in your area. They can give you an idea over the phone of how much it costs to neuter.

Here is a photo of two brothers I used to have who started out peacefully but then became aggressive toward one another. This is what they do when they're getting ready to "duke it out"....they stand on their hind legs and face one another. When it's especially severe, their fur will puff out making them look even bigger and meaner!

Rat Hamster Rodent Mouse Muridae

You are doing an excellent job of doing the research before getting your first rats. I’m so impressed! Have you begun looking for qualified rat veterinarians in your area? That’s definitely something you want to do before bringing home your new rats.
 

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Any tips on training two new, shy, rats to use the litter box? I just adopted my girls this past Monday, and today I brought them out into my bed while I studied in it for about 40 minutes to get used to met sent and explore. Motley had a blast roaming around/eating treats, but Kaci, who is shy, spent most of her time hidden under the covers. After I put them away I found a relatively large patch of pee where Kaci had been hiding. I don't want to say it was for sure her, because Motley was under there too, but all evidence points to Kaci. I want to be able to bring them out to play, but I also don't want to be washing my sheets every day! Any suggestions?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks for all your insights and advice, "About Pet Rats"! Chet and Evan looks so young there! They're so cute!! ;D And ya, that was the first thing I did - find local vets that are experienced in looking after rats. I have a few on the list, and one is even a mobile vet who makes house calls. Oh, and yesterday I found a listing for two male, neutered rats who are about a year old for adoption at a shelter. I thought, "Great! Pre-neutered! ;D"... but then they're already 1 year old and I'm afraid they there won't be much time to enjoy them... and then they will have to leave me. :(




Any tips on training two new, shy, rats to use the litter box? I just adopted my girls this past Monday, and today I brought them out into my bed while I studied in it for about 40 minutes to get used to met sent and explore. Motley had a blast roaming around/eating treats, but Kaci, who is shy, spent most of her time hidden under the covers. After I put them away I found a relatively large patch of pee where Kaci had been hiding. I don't want to say it was for sure her, because Motley was under there too, but all evidence points to Kaci. I want to be able to bring them out to play, but I also don't want to be washing my sheets every day! Any suggestions?
Get a litter pan, put in safe litter material that's different than their bedding. Put their poop and some urine stained bedding on it. Clean up well after they go in the wrong place to remove the smell. Keep doing that until the rat learns to only do their business in their litter pan. At least that's what I've read. :D And let them out a few minutes at a time then put them back in their cage so they can use their litter pans so they can learn that they need to return to their cage for bathroom breaks. I heard that if you put a rock in their litter box, it helps them learn and relieve themselves more in that spot. Good luck! ;D
 

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That's great you already have researched pet rat vets in your area!

Pre-neutered is a great way to start out! I can understand your hesitation with adopting the shelter rats who are around 1 yr old. However, I once rescued three brothers who were probably at least one year old and ended up having them for two years before they were euthanized. I was so glad I adopted them because they were super fun rats. You definitely need to do what feels right for you, though.

Keep us posted on when you do get your new rats. I'm very excited for you and can tell you're going to be a great rat person since you've done so much preparation and research.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for your kind words! :) I hope you're right and I'll be a great rat person. I hope whichever rats I end up adopting will like their person. ;D I'm quite hesitant when it comes to older rats because I just lost my dog of over 16 years to cancer last year and I'm not quite ready to have my heart ripped out too soon. :p It was very painful! I'm not ready for another puppy yet, but I love rodents (have had hamsters in the past and am currently friends with some backyard squirrels ;D), so after much research on different types of pet rodents, I decided on the rat - social, intelligent and playful. ;D;D;D I'll sure to keep you posted! Thank you again for all your helpful advice and sharing your experiences! I really appreciate it. :D
 

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You are going to LOVE rats.

Here's how I cope with losing my rats when it's their time to go: I think of them as like flowers. Flowers do not live very long yet we love having fresh flowers in our homes. We don't expect the flowers to live forever, yet we don't love them less because they're short-lived. With our rats, we give them the best life possible up until the very end. Then we know we've done everything we could for such a precious being. And then, because their lives are so short, we have the opportunity to meet and help even more rats.

Another thing that helped me through deep mourning and sadness for losing pets: Someone told me that the amount of our sadness and grief is in direct proportion to the amount of happiness and joy we had with the pet we lost. Learning this concept helped me feel better about being so grief stricken. (Hopefully this makes sense to you!)

With my rats, I've also developed a very elaborate process with special rituals for honoring each rat when it dies. I'm planning on writing about this for my website.

I do think you'll be an excellent rat person! Looking forward to hearing your upcoming adventures. :)
 
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