Rats As Pets

Rats as Pets

Smart, inquisitive, cute, friendly… Rats have many qualities that make them a rewarding pet to own. Hilarious and touchingly affectionate, they’re a joy to welcome into the family! Here’s some things to know before getting your new friends.

Socialising:

The best things come in twos – or more! Highly sociable animals, rats should have at least one same-sex friend to spend their days with in addition to your company. Many pet shops and most breeders now work on this policy and will not sell a rat unless paired.

Housing:

Rats are energetic creatures that enjoy exploring, climbing, playing, jumping, tunneling and nesting. Many cages marketed toward rats are below satisfactory size. Instead, cages aimed at ferret-owners make a better browsing choice. Often you can acquire a good cage second-hand for a fraction of the original price. The cage should contain nesting ‘igloos’, along with platforms, ladders, ropes or tunnels. Wire surfaces should be covered to prevent injuries from feet getting caught in-between.

There are many clip-in hammocks available for your rat to snuggle into. Soft fleece makes great bedding for igloos, but should be layered with absorbent material underneath such as newspaper. Shredded soft tissue can also be strewn about to serve this purpose and satisfy their nesting instincts. Rats can be easily trained from young to use a corner litter tray, however this works mainly for #2’s; They’ll pee where they wish!

Diet:

For a healthy rat, aim to provide a dry mix consisting of an all-in-one vitamin/nutrient pellet such as ‘Selective Rat’, grains, seeds, flakes and nuts (sparingly). Give fresh vegetables and fruit several times a week. Calcium supplements such as Liquivet can be added to water to aid growth and development. (Citrus fruits should not be given to male rats, due to studies linking it to cancer.)

Giving your rat occasional treats from your plate is a nice way to bond, and they are happy to eat almost anything, which also includes junk food! Their cute, begging faces make it easy to over-feed them or be tempted to give them rubbish, so be responsible and exercise moderation.

Health:

Arguably, all fancy rats are born with a virus called Mycoplasma. A type of bacteria that lives within the rats’ lungs, its presence is characterised by occasional ‘hiccupping’. On it’s own, it usually doesn’t affect the rat much, but it can make them more susceptible to secondary respiratory infections. Because of this, it’s important to keep your rats away from drafts, cold, damp, fluctuating temperatures and soiled bedding.

The Right Touch:

To pick your rat up correctly, begin by gently cupping the sides with palms flat, sliding underneath, scooping them up whilst making sure their limbs are supported, and calmly bringing them close to your body (or on the shoulder). Alternatively, slide your palm underneath and lift. As a general rule, never grab them at the waist, nor hold them out in the air. Rats particularly dislike being pulled out of entry-ways like cage doors. Wait until they are partially out the door so you can use the scoop or lift technique.

When rats are very happy they perform two significant actions: ‘bruxxing’ and ‘boggling’. Bruxxing involves a rhythmic grinding of the teeth; the result of this is the eyeballs ‘boggle’ outward. This can be odd to newbies, but it’s great to have such clear feedback of how your rat is feeling. Sometimes, rats do this to self-soothe in times of stress, so it’s important to observe the overall situation.

So, there are some basics to get you started on your rat journey! For more in-depth information on each of the topics covered… (coming soon).

It’s been a while! Hello Instagram…

Wow, so it’s been much longer than I intended since I last blogged on here. This is due to my discovery, one fateful day, of the abundant and active rat community on Instagram.

I post pictures and updates on there regularly and so, most of my focus has been directed there, as it’s so easy to add all the lovely pictures of my boys and enjoy others’ ratty worlds.

Burlington and Herman are growing bigger and cuddlier, and I feel extremely blessed and appreciative to have them in my life, every single day, multiple times a day.

We waited a long time after our Triple Men boys passed away, partly because we weren’t ready to welcome anyone new into our lives, and also because our home was in less than ideal conditions for housing little animals.

Once we got a proper sofa, a new carpet laid down and walls mostly plastered and painted in the living room, we were ready to get our boys.

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It’s beautiful, because Herman, the agouti dumbo, very much captures the essence that Alduous (a.k.a Baba Spuce) emitted, and Burly, our black masked, is a perfect blend of the remaining two, Mease and Badgie. So it’s very much like we have our boys back again but in a new form. 🙂

It was worth the wait to get them. They are such bundles of joy and they truly make my life a million times better (and I’m not saying my life is bad, but, however good it gets, having these boys would always be a cherry on top!)

We would actually love to add 2 more boys to the gang soon, to give them even more outlets to express their cuteness and love.

Our plan is to buy the Savic ‘Royale Suite’ cage in preparation, and acquire our two new boys from either a rescue or a private owner who needs to re-home. I really love the idea of giving some orphan pet rats a forever home, rather than booking some babies in from a breeder. There’s so many rats and other animals already out there who really need someone to take them in and give them a secure, loving home, and we would love to provide that opportunity to two (or more!) beautiful bucks.

If you’ve found this blog through something other than Instagram, then if you DO have Instagram please come and follow us! We are badgerclan.rats 🙂

 

 

Journey of Becoming – Lovely Men!

Our boys are becoming such lovely little men! Honestly, when we first got them, although we got them from a breeder and they had been handled, they were on the shy, scared side and it took a while for them to become comfortable with hands coming toward them and various noises. They didn’t like to be picked up at all and got kind of spooked easily. Herman hid a lot.

However we’ve consistently spent every day with them for hours, either in the front room or up in the bedroom once we arranged them a little area, and they are really blossoming!!! They are between 3 – 4 months old now.

The bonding seems to occur in stages or levels, where there will be a particular moment where I can just feel that new closeness has been reached, and from then on there is a more connected feeling and behaviour between them and us. More warmth and interaction and openness on their side.

Herman is super affectionate and playful, he loves to be involved and often runs over to see you. He lets you nuzzle into him and is happy to be picked up and smoothed now (before he gets impatient and wants to continue his journey of exploration.) He has a penchant for getting bits of fluff/tissue/food stuck in his whiskers or on the end of his nose which is hilariously adorable.

He’s independent but very socially inclined, playful and free but also very soft, snuggly and kissable, especially when he’s tired. He’s very cheeky and emits an aura of monkey mischief. He LOOKS like a little brown monkey!

Burlington has the softest and loveliest fur I’ve ever had the joy of experiencing on a rat! Apparently there are such breeds as a ‘Teddy Rex’, however it says that these are not presently in the UK and that it would probably be seen as a bad Rex – I’m not really sure about that – all I know is his fur feels and looks just like pictures and descriptions of Teddy Rex, and it is fabulous!!! It reminds me of a thick, woolly sheep. Especially when you see his legs from behind 🙂

He’s a real sweet little boy. He makes the funniest faces and has a special relationship with his Chicken Hideout, one of the nests in their cage (See previous posts!) Wherever he sleeps, he generally likes to lean his head out and is always up for being snuggled and stroked. He really leans in toward the snuggles, and it’s such a pleasure to cuddle him because of his amazing fur.

He’s very allowing, soppier and slightly less bouncy/playful, moment to moment than Herman. But they both do bounce and play, and they both do relax and cuddle, too.

Herman likes to climb on you and sit on your shoulder, whereas Burlington doesn’t like being on the shoulder at all – he’s all about the sleeve – both love the sleeve!

They’re both comedians in their own ways – Burlington’s just extremely silly in most things he does and he doesn’t even realise it. Herman makes you laugh with his baby-like cuteness and experimental explorations.

 

 

 

Upstairs

Now the chill of winter has settled in more, I’ve been spending a lot of time with the Men upstairs in the day while G-rem works, so that we can all stay warm together in our small, cosy room, and it’s been so lovely to have them around!

We haven’t described the set-up they have in our room really, but there is a nice sized desk (made by G-rem himself) made from kitchen table top that is accessible from the bed, and I have basically donated it to become a rat-table.

They have a plastic ladder from a previous cage that reaches from the bed to the desk.

Ladder!
Ladder!

From there, they can wander into ‘The Hermburl Saloon’ for a drink and chill.

The Hermburl Saloon
The Hermburl Saloon

When they get hungry, their food bowl is situated just behind the Saloon in a cardboard tray to attempt to minimize spillage!

Saloon.. Feeding
Saloon.. Feeding

Then they can waddle over to the one and only RAT SOFA, custom built by a friend of my mum’s who had a business making natural wooden furniture. It’s over 10 years old now and has seen some wear and tear, but in the early days it used to have its own fabric seat, padded out with pure, soft fluffy cotton from a cotton pod.

This isn’t the best picture angle to demonstrate its coolness and the headboard it has is hidden underneath the beam.. but here it is anyway.

They enjoy sleeping both on it and in the space underneath.

Sperman .. as we now call him... on the sofa before bedding change
Sperman .. as we now call him… on the sofa before bedding change
The Rattie Sofa
The Rattie Sofa with nice new fleece

As they make their way along to the other end of the desk, there is another small box filled with tissue bedding, that is the general sleeping box where they tend to go for longer stretches of rest. I made a silly pillar to prop the lid up but sometimes it’s nicer when the lid falls lower so it blocks out the light and makes it cosier for them when they’re deeply resting.

When they wake up, as the desk reaches to the stair bannisters, they love to sit by the balcony on some fleece bedding and look out into the yonder, wondering what lays beyond-er…

Hello Herman!
Hello Herman!

Then back over to the bed for play time!

The Chicken Hideout

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Weeks before our boys were due to be brought home, after scrolling through pages of Ebay listings for potential snuggly nests, finding most of them way too big for our needs, I decided to order a little cosy home from China (that has the bonus of a removable floor for easy washing…!)

They had a range of colours, but no option to specify which colour you would prefer. It was stated that unless we wrote to them to request one in particular, it would be random.

Most of them weren’t too silly looking, so I decided to just see what happened. “As long as it’s not the yellow and orange one.” I said to myself.

Weeks and weeks later, it finally arrived. As I eagerly opened the packaging, I was greeted with a bright yellow and orange fluff house.

Dubbed ‘The Chicken Hideout’, it looks like a baby chicken with a huge, hungry mouth, ready to gobble up various small animals that may wander into its tempting promise of warm, snuggly sleeps.

My little men love it and it is a daily staple in Burly’s sleep routine.

It reminds me of the diary room in the Big Brother House – a little hideaway for one to get some alone time. For a while, anyway.

Although it’s small, as is the nature of rats, they like to squeeze into it together. For now they are happy slithering around over each other until they have achieved a somewhat comfortable arrangement, although it never lasts too long.

Always a joy to behold: