Best site for Rat care

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Best site for Rat care

Post by inkeduptara on Tue Mar 13, 2012 12:34 pm

I am interested in learning about rats and housing them, and their care, habitats, basically everything. Is there a site you recommend most?

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Re: Best site for Rat care

Post by Rhasputin on Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:51 pm

For getting rat information the AFRMA website is fairly nice.

However, there are currently no rat forums that I can recommend. A large majority of rat forums are cliquey and worse, anti-breeding.
The most popular one if you google 'rat forum' is quite bad.

We're hoping to start a good rat community here, though! We have plenty of mouse people who know -tons- about rats, so I'm sure if you post your questions or photos we'll be happy to share with you. Happy


The best forum I know of for rat info, is actually a ball python forum, strangely enough. They're obviously not anti-breeding, and most of them are in favor of the best food they can get because their rats get fed to top dollar snakes. Happy
Then again, for the most part they don't know squat about genetics, so there's + and - about all places.


We're probably a great place for acceptance and info, but our rat section just hasn't taken off yet. tongue
That's our + and - .
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Re: Best site for Rat care

Post by inkeduptara on Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:37 pm

What would you say are pros and cons of having rats, and what enclosure is best, and temperature to keep and what feed. Do they smell as much as the mice do?

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Re: Best site for Rat care

Post by Rhasputin on Tue Mar 13, 2012 2:44 pm

Rats in my opinion smell -different- than mice, but are just as strong, especially if you have males. I have 5 females and 1 neutered male, and before i had the male I didn't notice the smell as much, but boy oh boy even though he's neutered he reeks! Bucks have 'buck grease' on their skin, which is sort of a scent thing they do, which is just plain old smelly. Laughing
You can really see it on hairless bucks, their skin will be tinged yellow or brown most of the time with the grease.

Pros. . .
Great pets, easy to keep, easy diets for people familiar with rodents, trainable, friendly and interactive, hilarious

Cons. . .
Stinky (but what rodent isn't?), high cancer rate, short lifespans, hard to find good breeders and stock


For an enclosure I recommend a large plastic tote bin, the biggest one you can find, converted into a bin cage but adding wire mesh in 'windows' on the side and lid. Happy This provides a large space, prevents them from kicking out bedding, provides ventilation

Temperatures can range widely, they do well in most temperatures below 85 degrees. Any higher and they are at risk.

Food can be rodent block, or 'rat mix' which you can find recipes for on AFRMA's site I believe, and a google search for 'rat food mix' should come up with some stuff. Happy
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Re: Best site for Rat care

Post by mouselover01 on Tue Mar 13, 2012 3:24 pm

What would you say are pros and cons of having rats

Pros

I think rats are more "loving" and "clingy" than mice (my experience). Rats like to sit on your shoulder they can be taught tricks, learn, and play with their owners depending on how much time you put into them.

Male rats can be kept together more commonly than mice. Most rats can live in male groups without fighting even if unrelated. I have a whole male cage with 4 males currently all from different litters and all unrelated (well, one father and son but they were separated for awhile before being re-introduced).

Cons
They still smell and they are larger so they pee/poop more.
Larger cage needed than mice
Hard to find good breeders
Bigger they are, the harder they can BITE. I was bitten badly by a petco rat. I don't recommend rats from anyone other than a breeder or a rescue.



What enclosure is best
Depends on what you want really. Do you want space saving or easy option?
Pro
A tote is good to save space and is easy to clean and maintain. They are cheap to make and don't take up a ton of room.
Cons
Can't really see the rats, not TONS of room, etc.

Do you want something you can put in a living room or that looks cool?

Go with a critter nation cage.
Pros
Critter nation is easy to put together, no screws. You can make it 3 cages high, or one cage.
It's on wheels, nice looking black/gray metal bars, lots of room to roam and play.
I think they are cool looking

[b]Cons [/b
They can and will chew the trays
Harder to clean since you'll have to clean multiple trays.
Harder to put bedding in since the trays are shallow

**Don't get the counter part- Ferret nation-. Ferret nation cages have bar spacing not suitable for rats! You have to get the CRITTER NATION.

Temperature to keep
My rats are kept at between 55-80 depending on the season.
I notice rats don't like the heat. I wouldn't have them at much higher than 80 and ideally keep them around 70-75. Any normal household range really.

and what feed

I feed mine rodent block. They are also garbage pales and will eat fruits and veggies as well as treats, seeds, etc. I feed a block base diet and add treats and such as I have them. They can eat the same block the mice eat.

Do they smell as much as the mice do


I used to say rats smelled LESS than mice, and I only had rats. I think that they both smell, MAYBE rats smell A TAD less, but they still smell.

Keeping the cage clean keeps the odor down. :-)
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Re: Best site for Rat care

Post by thistlebrook on Tue Mar 13, 2012 4:19 pm

All of these replies are great, I don't really have much to add. Happy

I have a Critter Nation in addition to some Martins Cages. I MUCH prefer the Martins over the CN. Regarding the trays and bedding in a CN - I bought a metal Bass pan, painted it with a protective enamel, then spray painted it and let it sit for a few weeks. It is much deeper than the tray that comes with the CN, and the rats can't chew it. Happy Tray/pan aside, I dislike the difficulty in cleaning the CN. Unlike some of the Martins models, one cannot put the CN in a shower/bathtub. I think that Martins are comparable in cost to the CN.

I've got 4 girls in this Martins R-680 (sitting atop the CN):
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Re: Best site for Rat care

Post by mouselover01 on Tue Mar 13, 2012 5:11 pm

I use the ferret nation (same as CN except larger spacing) for my ferrets. I like adding levels but this got very old very quick since the new ferret wasn't litter box trained and would poop EVERYWHERE.

Now I have it down to a double level and use the bottom level for storage.


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Re: Best site for Rat care

Post by inkeduptara on Tue Mar 13, 2012 7:43 pm

I have my chins in the ferret nations, the 142 style, not the new snap together style. Chin owners do not like the new ones, let me tell ya lol

Thank you ladies for all the wonderful, and very well thought out and thorough answers! Lots to think about! Thank you!!

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Re: Best site for Rat care

Post by Frizzle on Tue Mar 13, 2012 11:29 pm

I basically have been doing the tote for my five boys, but my friend has a martins cage like the one above, and I've been thinking about buying one. About $200 for the one he got, it is a tad bigger then thistlebrooks, (he has 6 rats) has two doors? I can't tell you much about cleaning, but I dislike the four door clips on his model, the two thistlebrook has I think I'd prefer.

I think I like the mouse smell over the rats, my males really don't have much for buck grease, they are around 7 months old at this point. I like the lazyness, and how you can cuddle with them, and how you can train them to stay off the computer, lol.
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Re: Best site for Rat care

Post by seafolly on Sun Apr 08, 2012 1:17 am

inkeduptara wrote:What would you say are pros and cons of having rats, and what enclosure is best, and temperature to keep and what feed. Do they smell as much as the mice do?

I'm sorry I'm likely going to be repetitive but thought even echos might help you if more than one person feels the same way.

PROS:
1. Done properly, males can get along extremely well. I actually just rehomed my last male because he was so depressed that his cagemate died (given to a vet with male rats his age) he barely left his house. I'm told he's already perking up, being in a cage next to another male who he soon will live with.

2. They can act like little dogs. I had one female that liked to escape quite often and she'd follow me around the house. They can thoroughly enjoy a human's company, sometimes more than each other.

3. They live longer. My mice tend to live 1-2 years whereas my rats live 3-4 years.

4. Aggression doesn't seem to be an issue. In my ten years of owning at least two rats at a time, I've only encountered one aggressive rat. He was a teenager and mysteriously died a few weeks after I brought him home so I suspect the aggression was a sign of discomfort/illness.

5. They're smart. A few of mine would come when called and seemed to know their names.

6. I really, really don't think they smell as much at all. I had two males living here the past two years and only when I introduced the mice did I have trouble with the smell of the apartment. That said, when I had five rats in one Ferret Nation clean up got tedious and a little gross. But the smell isn't the same at all. Maybe I just got used to it but I'd take male rats over male mice in a heartbeat.

7. They're really personable. That probably sounds weird but most rats I've owned I've felt a connection with. I've never really gotten that from more than one mouse.

CONS:

1. They require time. They need to play outside their cage and interact with you. This can be good for some folks but for busy people this is tricky.

2. Cancer. Most of mine lived to respectable ages but would have a tumour in the end.

3. They require more space than mice. I'd have five girls in one single Ferret Nation cage which felt like it took up my bedroom.

4. It's very difficult to find knowledgeable people who are down to earth and open minded. There was one male I rescued from the SPCA who just would not take to other males no matter what I tried. This happens. But try convincing rat forums of that. Any support I received in that case was done privately through PM as everyone was afraid of speaking up. Oddly enough they were admins/mods who shouldn't be afraid.

5. Vet care. Most rats I've owned have needed vet care at some point. This ranged from tumour removal to dislocated jaws...!! My mice didn't often show signs of illness before death and only one ever had a tumour (that was visible). Under the same category, vets who know rat physiology seem rare. Often I'd coach my vet along. It's not that they aren't capable, the knowledge just isn't well known. Finding an exotic vet can be tricky and expensive.

****

I fed my rats lab blocks from a veterinary college's animal facility but they'd get lots of fruits and veggies as well (be careful of which you feed...Google is a friend here). I really did like my Ferret Nation cage when the females weren't too small. It's really easy to clean and they get lots of room plus space for hammocks.

(I really, really miss having rats right now)
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Re: Best site for Rat care

Post by Stina on Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:11 am

A lot of stuff is covered already here...so I'll just add a couple points of my own opinions Happy

My rats don't seem to smell anywhere near as much as a lot of the male mice I've had. Keep in mind there can be a LOT of variation in the odors male mice produce...and some of them are EXCEPTIONALLY stinky. My rats have not produced the variation in odor level I've experienced in mice...I've never had a rat that produced anywhere near as much odor as some of the male mice I've had. I've also worked in pet stores that had mice and rats....and the mice by far have always smelled worse! Not only more odor, but more offensive. Now again, there is a huge variation in the level of odor that mice produce.....pet store mice, on average, will smell SOOOOOOOOO much more than mice that have some european show line blood. Rats as compared to a lot of mice that have that european blood are much closer in odor level...but I'd still say the rats smell just a little less...and to me their odor is less offensive.

As far as cages, another option is converting actual furniture (that had glass doors). I have both a china cabinet, and a little entertainment cabinet thing that I've converted to cages and I love them! They look good and are easy to clean. Only the front is wire, and for whatever reason, they don't soil that wire like they soiled the wire on entirely wire cages. All I did was spray the inside with indoor/outdoor spar urethane, used floor edging as lips for the shelves/bottom, put silicone into every edge, and replaced the front glass with hardware cloth.

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Re: Best site for Rat care

Post by seafolly on Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:17 am

SO true. I've always been confused when I read that rats and mice just smell different. I remember as a 12 year old being told I had to give away my one male mouse (I had no girls then) because it was just that bad. And yes, there does seem to be variety as one male I had last year actually wasn't that bad at all. But I've never had a stinky male rat. I mean, obviously they smell over time what with living in their own excrement but you wouldn't know I had rats when walking in the apartment. Now, you really smell the male mouse. It sort of makes me wonder if I'll last beyond one litter if his sons are the same way.
And yes again to the less offensive smell of rats. It's less...sharp? Is that the word I'm looking for?
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Re: Best site for Rat care

Post by seafolly on Sun Apr 08, 2012 2:37 am

inkeduptara wrote:I am interested in learning about rats and housing them, and their care, habitats, basically everything. Is there a site you recommend most?

http://care.chellescritterhaven.org/

This one is good. Happy
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Re: Best site for Rat care

Post by inkeduptara on Sun Apr 08, 2012 10:58 pm

Thank you everybody. You have all had such well written replies. You guys rock!

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