BRINGING HOME YOUR NEW PET
It can be daunting adding a new fuzzy family member. There are so many options on how to keep and look after rats.
- Cage - The biggest you can get; check bar spacing as some babies are great escape artists
- Food - pellets are said to be the best (Cummins, Lauke Mills, Vetafarm Rodent origins) this needs to be available at all times as rats graze throughout the day
- Litter - newspaper pellets (breeders choice), dust free wood shavings (breeders choice, chipsi), wood pellets (ozpet), shredded paper
- Water - dripper bottles are the most popular
- Bowls - Coop cups (they have hooks on the back for hanging) plastic or metal work great. Ceramic, metal or Glass is sometimes used. You will need more than one for food, treats and possibly water
- Somewhere to hide - Hammocks can be made or bought, rats love nesting in fleece, peg baskets also work great. Cardboard boxes (from food packaging) and plastic/wood igloos are just some ideas. Idealy rats need a few different placed to hide and sleep.
- Dry mix - many people make their own dry mixes for their pets. Muesli, low sugar cereal, dry dog kibble, oats, other grains and nuts, rice, dry pasta, dried corn, dried fruit, parrot or pigeon seed are some of the ingredients that can be put in the mix
- Treats - yoghurt drops, the ingredients mentioned above, left overs, veggies etc.
- Wood chews - to wear teeth down
- Wheel - Boys usually aren't as interested in the wheels as the girls
- Tunnels - PVC pipe works great, cardboard tubes, or they can be bought
- Toys - Cat balls, some bird or rabbit toys, or make your own!
FOR THE CRAZY RAT PEOPLE
- Harness - Fantastic way to take your friend outside and run outside
- Ball - Making sure you take the time to train your rat how to be in one and keep in mind how big you need the ball to be. You can let your pet run around the house without having to worry about losing him/her behind fridges, couches etc. the added bonus is your cords are chew safe
- Snuggle sack - Like a hand bag, but for your rat, these can be made from fleece or bought from other people who made them
- Litter tray - Yes, you can litter train your rat!
Introducing a new rat
This can be tricky, but most of the time it's not. Rats are social creatures and once they work out who is boss you will see them snuggling in no time.
- Initial meeting should be done in a neutral setting; bath tub, bathroom, couch, bed, play pen are the most common places. I like the bathtub, as you can clean it easily, and no one is easily able to scent mark the tub.
- Give the cage a thorough clean while your rats are meeting, after you clean the cage and all the items inside rearrange it so it's different than before, this makes it a new territory for your current rat (s)
- Don't be worried if you see some fighting/wrestling this is how they work out the pecking order, it can be quite scary for the new rat owner especially if you hear squeaking. Keep a close eye on them, don't try to break them up, and watch for blood. If there is no blood there isn't any problems.
- When rats play they wrestle and chase each other around, this can look like aggressive behavior but it isn't.
- If your rat simply doesn't get along with the other(s) It is best to keep them in separate cages next to each other so that they can get used to each others smell. Every day (or more if you have the time) let them free range together they will eventually get used to each other, if possible after a few sessions together let them free range with both cages open so that they can explore each others cages while running around
- Very rarely a rat may not like the other particular rat, or he/she may just prefer to be on their own (please note this is extremely rare)