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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have plenty of water bottles but wondered if there is a specific style or brand that works best for rats. If so, let me know and I will check it out.

Also, can someone post a link or direct me to a site that has good tips on the following:

Food/diet for rats

Bedding

Litter training


Again, many thanks for any advice or leads on my research!
 

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In terms of water bottles your best going for a couple smaller bottles, I find 150ml bottles work well. Always have 2 in the cage incase one runs out or gets stuck. I also like to offer a water bowl as some rats like to splash in them and even wash there faces.

Having 1 or two spare 75ml bottles are also useful for travelling or treats (puppy milk or soy baby formula is nice to offer young rats)

In terms of food/diet for rats, it depends what your after. I’m guessing your most likely in the US, if so Oxbow is probably the best rat food you can buy. They do a young rat version as well as an adult one, but it would probably buy the adult one and top them up with extra fresh protein, veg etc. The other alternative is either making or buying a home made mix. This is what I do as I vastly prefer both the variety and the flexibility of having a mix I can taylor to the rats. It takes a bit of getting your head round though so if you are keen I would look into cagedbirdsinging’s rat mixes. I would then mix it 50:50 with oxbow to start off so you don’t have to worry quite as much about getting the vitamin balance in there fresh food exactly right. There’s a lot of info on home-made diets on my website which is in my sig strip. It is more UK centric though.

You also need to think about giving them extra high protein wet food when they are young. This acts to top up there diet with the extra protein, fats, vits and minerals a young rat needs. I’m not sure if I’ve put that info on my site yet (I’ve got tonnes floating around lol). In summary though the best way to feed them is to give them an extra high protein meal roughly every day or two until they are about 8 weeks. At that point you need to switch to looking at how they are doing in terms of condition. The rats body will tell you when they need extra by there coat getting a bit long and scruffy over the rump and there tail looking like it has edges. This means they are having a growth spurt and need topping up a bit more. Give them a couple of extra meals when you see that and then see how they get on. I find it tends to work out they get 2-3 meals every fornight at first, slowing to every month, then maybe every 6 weeks. Useually by about 4 months for girls and 6 months for boys, possibly even later on as growth spurts can happen even after 12 months old. By learning to read your rats needs it means you can give them whats right for them and maximise there health and lifespan.

High protein booster meals tend to be things like egg cooked in rice, good quality kitten and puppy foods, tinned fish in spring water or tomato sauce, chicken cooked on the bone (bones are brilliant treats for rats regardless, full of calcium). You can even give them litter high protein treats like seeds, mealworms, shrimps and cat treats.

You’ll also want to give them a nice range of veg. They do best with most of it being dark green leafy veg with some colourful veg thrown in. Build up slowly otherwise they will get squishy poos, avoid stuff like iceburg lettuce which adds nothing and don’t feed too much fruit (though berries once a week is a great idea).

Bedding wise, it depends on what you can get hold of. The US is a bit limited but if I lived over there I would probably use aspen bedding, its got good absorbency and sounds like its fairly good quality. Carefresh is also a possibility as is megasorb, but I’m not a big fan. Over here the best you can get is probably shredded card bedding or hemp bedding (or a mix of the two). Theres a fair bit of info on various types of bedding on my website again, again UK centric but theres some good info on the general types that are out there. Some people swear by fleece, but I’m not a big fan, rats love to dig to much for that. What do you have in for your other creatures, some of that might be good for rats too.

If you want to litter train then its also worth getting a litter, this should be different from the bedding, I like paper cat litter from a rat safe, but also good absorbancy point of view. The big trick with litter training is to assume your rats are lazy (because when it comes to this they are likely to be). You need to make it as easy as possible for them to get to the litter tray, so some trial and error is required. It can also help to have more than one litter tray and sometimes use them rather than shelves. I put my litter trays near where my boys most like to sleep. Ive got a massive tall cage so one goes right near there fave bed upstairs. One goes midway down, near another hammock/ nesting spot they prefer. I also don’t bother with one on the floor as the substrate (bedding) I use down there is absorbant enough to deal with it. The most popular litter tray is the one at the top of the cage. I also don’t have any shelves in my cage, these are wee traps and all rats like to at least mark them, even if they don’t leave a puddle, this leads to very whiffy rats. Instead I hang cat litter trays across my cage and put a thin layer of litter in them. That way my shelves are also my litter trays. This limits the number of places the rats will go that isn’t litter or substrate. The only other place they’ve got is there hammocks. I find that if I don’t have a litter tray next to there fave hammock they just poo on the next nearest hammock or in the wheel, whichever if closest. So if I get it right they essentially litter train themselves.

This basically means despite the fact I’ve not actively litter trained my rats for about 10 years (carefully picking up poos and putting them in the trays in the hope the rats will get the hint) they are actually better litter trained than most rats I know. They even get out of there hammocks for a pee, something nearly unheard of in rat circles lol. A lot of websites wont tell you that way, but its far far easier. Using conventional training the best I ever got was about 60% of the poos where I wanted them, the rest useually where I least wanted them and the rats never urinated in the litter trays.

By the way i love all the research your doing, it really bodes well for your future rats
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you so very much for the rich information! I LOVE the idea of hanging litter trays instead of shelves. I will try that one for sure and put the hammocks around it.

We do have Oxbow here and saw only the one for Young rats and t adult ones. I was uncertain though since I had read somewhere that corn and alfalfa were not good for them yet that was that was the top five ingredients in Oxbow and Kaytee.

Great tip too about growing spurts and beefing up their meals during that time. I keep a handy supply fresh dark leafy greens for my piggies and beardie. I can also share any dog food with them as I have that as well. But will also get other suggested supplements.

I use the fleece bedding for my piggies as I make them and sell them for my shop but I also use paper pellets for them and my bunny. So I will try those first.

Will check my water bottles and see how to make the cage bars more narrow.

Again, many many thanks! BTW I travelled through the UK many years ago touring a show. I've been to London, York, Bath, Liverpool, Oxford, Wigan, Wales, and Edinburough were among our stops. Beautiful country!
 

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corn is one of those things that varies, is not always bad. The main issue with it is that poorly dried corn can have mould spores in it. worth a baked food like oxbow or one woth micronised flakes (sqyished and cooked corn) you are ok with that as the heat makes it safe. A rat feed on a diet entirely of corn wouldn't do well but a rat feed entirely on one thing wouldn't regardless. i would aim to have it not one of the top 2 or 3 ingredients but actualy find wheat worse as it's harsh on older rats kidneys. That's why i think oxbow is one of the better ones, it's high in barley and rice 2 of the best rat grains. To be fair though i wouldn't feed a pelleted food any way. Great for bunny's and wigs who have evolved to eat a fairly simple none varied diet. rears are scavengers and omnivores though si thrive in variety. It is easier overt here though. More options that are actualy good (such as a rabbit food i wouldn't feed rabbits but makes a great rat food).

I've never yet been to the us, though I've worked with a lot of Americans for years. I'm a bit further north in the UK than you've been (up near Manchester) but my hubby is from Oxford, it is pretty round there and the sun shines a lot more lol.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ill start out with the Oxbow then for the younger rats. Then move on to the Essentials for Adults when they are 6 months.

Wigan isn't too far from Manchester as a lovely fellow who was my boyfriend at the time worked in Manchester.
 

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As far as the water bottle question, I purchased a glass water bottle by the Kaytee brand from Petsmart. It has a little rubber ducky on the inside to show where the water is sitting and as a reminder to refill it. I love it.
 

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i would move them into adult at 3 months and judge it woth wet food. The 6 months is a bit excessive abs to much protien can cause them to grow too fast and have a tendency to get chubby through life (which is one of those things which increases the chance of a while host of issues)
 

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I was thinking of posting my advice, but everyone above has covered it! Litter training is a blessing when it comes to cleaning the cage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Thank you all! I brought my boys home today, and am starting the litter training. Will move to Regal when my youngest, Squiggy a hairless love bug, reaches 3 mths. Then the others would be at the right time too. Andy, my hooded dumbo mink was born 8/17/14; Opie, my dumbo Dalmatian rex was born 9/17/14; and Squiggy, my hairless was born 10/2/14. They are an eclectic little trio!
 
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