What They Do NOT Tell You.
There is so much misinformation about rodent care that I felt that it was worth outlining some of the things that are not mentioned or are ignored when you purchase your animals from a shop type setting.
Not all shops are bad, some themselves are rat owners and are more than willing to point you in the right direction when it comes to the animals care however there are other shops who we feel are in it for the profit and not so much for the animals. This is a guide only about certain things that are incorrect about housing, bedding, foods that are normally recommended by people that we, as customers, believe should know best.
Pine & Cedar
– These types of wood in any form are NOT good for the health of your small animal. Avoid this and ask for something like breeders choice litter or similar recycled paper product. For more ideas about what is safe have a look HERE
and we also have a list of unsafe beddings also which can be found HERE
- are not a suitable long term home for rodents. Again we have a full length article about this HERE
Mouse cages -
are not suitable for the long term housing of Rats. Most shops have a large range of mouse cages which they will quite happily sell you for a couple of rats. However what they do not tell you is this!!. Rats require approx 2 cubic feet minimum space per rat
, it sounds like a lot but we are talking about animals that can range in size, when fully grown, from around 200 grams each up to 1kg in some cases (average is around 400 –600 grams). Mouse cages are quite easy to spot as they are fairly small, generally have a small wheel and other small accessories within the cage which comes as a “pack”. Mouse cages will normally set you back around $60.00 or so.
What you really should be looking for is a larger cage, something suitable for a large parrot or 2 (or more) rabbits, guinea pigs or ferrets. Alternatively you could even try making your own cage however be careful with the woods you choose to use as some can be dangerous to rats. Generally speaking, for a new cage suitable for a couple of rats you will be looking at a cage that sells from about $85.00 and upwards (normally around $120.00 and up).
Rats are not cheap pets -
Ok to purchase the actual animals they are one of the cheapest starting price animals available however they quickly can become more expensive than the price of a $300.00 puppy. Rats have a history of getting respiratory infections, it is something that I would guarantee your rat gets at least once in their life and without vet attention the animal will suffer and die. For a vet visit alone you would be looking at a consult fee from $30.00 (average consult fee in 2013 is $65.00) and up plus your medications on top of this. That becomes very costly especially if the rats are not from good healthy parents, which unfortunately most rats found in the shops are just bred without any care for the parents health.
Male and Female rats
- should NOT be housed together unless one or both are sterilised. Rats can start breeding from as early as 6 weeks old, if the male is present with the female when the delivery occurs he can mate with her almost immediately resulting in more babies. Please choose the sex you wish to keep and stick with that until you can provide sterilisation for one of the sexes (or both) or have 2 cages that are away from each other and you have time for both the males and females. If you are unsure how to tell the difference then look at the animals bottoms, males have testicles that most of the time you cannot miss while females obviously do not. Females also have nipples while males do not. If in doubt and the sales people cannot tell you for sure have a look at a shop that can tell the difference for you.
Rats Are Social Animal -
Rats thrive with company of other rats. Many people go to a shop, breeder or even rescue and express a desire to only own a single rat. Although we do educate these people about the social needs of rats and never rehome a single rat to a rat free home other places will willingly allow single adoptions for the animal to live a very isolated and lonely life. Single rats can suffer from stress (which can cause illness) and can sometimes become very mentally unstable. 2 rats of the same sex is one of the most beneficial things you can do for your new rats. They will be more mentally comfortable with the change of environment, more confident and with still bond closely with their humans as long as they are handled regularly. There is no evidence that a single rat will bond more strongly with humans, in actual fact, it is our experience that 2 or more rats, living in a bonded group, tend to be more comfortable with human handling as well as being more confident to explore together.
Rats need vets
I know we said it above but it is one thing that regularly comes up with a lot of surrenders. People unable to afford vet fees and as such surrender animals who require vet treatments. Those 2 cute babies that have been bought for your young children are now a little older and have a respiratory issue but you don’t believe in paying $100 or more to seek a vet out. Please, DON’T get rats if you do not believe in taking them to the vet. Rats need vets, they get medical issues which can only be treated with vet only medications and if not treated they can suffer terribly. Those quick fix online medications, forget them. You are wasting your money as they are not specifically for rats (generally they are bird medications) and will probably only make matters worse. If you are thinking of keeping rats be sure to have a vet fund because you will need it at some stage.