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 Post subject: 2 new rats - help!
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:49 am 
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Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:32 am
Posts: 7
Hi there,

My boyfriends and I have just rescued two baby rats - a brother and a sister - who we think were weened far too early as we believe they are about 5 1/2 weeks old and we have had them for 1 week. They are very sweet, but we are worried that as they were weened too early that they won't learn behaviour from their mother that they should. They have a very large cage with many levels but only stay on the top one, where we first put them and onlly come out form under their wooden bridge to go to the food bowl or drink.
We take them out every evening when we get home from work and they run up our arms etc, btu as soon as we sit with them on our bed, they try to find hidden places under our pillows or t-shirts. Isha, the female, is bolder and will dart out after a while and climb on us and sniff our noses/faces etc etc, btu will scare easily and dart back under cover. Dumbo, the male, will very rarely be coaxed out.
We have never had rats before and really want to make sure they are as happy as possible. Is this normal behaviour? Will it just take some time for them to get used to us/ Should we force them out with us every night? Or not? We want them to be very domesticated though so we can have them out as much as possible as they grow up (we don't like animals in cages). Is there anything we should be doing in particular to help teach them behaviour that their mother can no longer teach them? Is there anything we can do to help make this transition period better for them? To help them become alot less nervous?

We really appreciate any help that anyone with far more knowledge than us can give us - please help us with our babies! Thanks! Thea x


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 Post subject: Re: 2 new rats - help!
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:59 am 
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Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2016 2:18 pm
Posts: 47
First thing.... unless you want 15 more rats you need to separate them ASAP. they are at the age they can breed and incest is not a problem for them


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 Post subject: Re: 2 new rats - help!
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:04 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2016 2:18 pm
Posts: 47
Are you sure they are male and female? or both male or both female?

5 and half weeks is around the time to separate. Ive heard 6 weeks is done, but mother will have taught them life lessons already =)

This sounds normal for new and timid rats, you need to give them time :D Lots of interaction with them and treats and they should come around =)


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 Post subject: Re: 2 new rats - help!
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:35 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:32 am
Posts: 7
Thanks for your replies! Yes, I am sure that they are brother and sister, and we are getting them castrated very soon and will be seperating them until then - apart from when they are out with us and we can keep an eye on them! - I'm glad that sounds normal :) They nibble our fingers alot, which we have read we should not stop them doing as it allows them to taste us and become familiar with our smell etc. It's adorable now, but will there come a point where we have to stop them doing it? Or will they do this naturallly? Thanks again for all your help!


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 Post subject: Re: 2 new rats - help!
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:43 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2016 2:18 pm
Posts: 47
Ah =) well only the boy would need to be castrated.... and then you can get more females no problem if you wanted to in the future.
Ive seen alot of mis-gendered rats before Id keep an eye on the female as she could already be pregnant. (fertile at 5 week) Youll soon know if she is.

Rats will do this no matter there age for various reasons.... but as its not a sign of aggression I dont worry about it. I just got three girls (mother and two daughters) and they are doing the same, but they had limited human contact. If the nip hurts too much I just make a high pitched squeaking sound and they usually stop or lighten the nip =)

Others on this site may have better opinions though =)


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 Post subject: Re: 2 new rats - help!
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:46 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:32 am
Posts: 7
Ah ok! Will do that if it gets too much! We were going to get the female done first as we read that it considerably reduces the chance of tumours....? We were going to get her done now, and then him at about 12 weeks....we know we have to get one done now but obviously the older/bigger they are the lesser the risk.....no?


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 Post subject: Re: 2 new rats - help!
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 12:54 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2016 2:18 pm
Posts: 47
Well to be honest.... any age is a risk for rats. But females the best time is 3-6 months but can be anytime I guess.

Its up to you but as surgery is always risky I dont want to make that choice for you or tell you want to do. Ive had 20 girls 23 including my new ones... and around 5 have got tumors, but still lived for a while more after getting them. Ive never spayed any of my rats.


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 Post subject: Re: 2 new rats - help!
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:01 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:32 am
Posts: 7
Ah ok, that's really interesting.....

As a seperate question - as i said, so far they are only using the top level of their cage which i assume will change as they grow in size and confidence, should we thereofre have the litter tray, food water - everything! - on the top level until they venture on to other levels? Instead of seperating these things to try and get them to move around?

And in order to litter train them, should we just always put their droppings in the litter tray, when we see them pooing put them and the dropping in the litter tray and give them a treat, and also have the litter tray out with them when they are with us in order to do the same - are there any other tricks?


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 Post subject: Re: 2 new rats - help!
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:10 pm 
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Joined: Sun Sep 25, 2016 2:18 pm
Posts: 47
Ive read that taking out all shelves and hiding places is good as they have to get used to humans walking past etc

Litter training is my weakness :oops: Outside the cage I usually make sure to pick up the poo and put them back in the cage at the same time. Its rare for my boys to go outside the cage now unless I have them out for an hour or more.

Inside the cage I guess the bedding they are used to using as litter is best to put in the litter tray and a new / felt type bedding in the rest of the cage. And moving it in to the litter tray when they go outside the tray.


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 Post subject: Re: 2 new rats - help!
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:11 pm 
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Location: South Cambridgeshire
TheaOlivia wrote:
... will be seperating them until then - apart from when they are out with us and we can keep an eye on them!

It only takes a split second to mate, you wouldn't be able to stop them, so please don't let them meet under any circumstances!

Bucks would normally be neutered once they reach 4 months or preferably older still, and 5 weeks old is very young to be able to spay a doe so I doubt you would find a decent vet prepared to attempt it. You'll need to solve the companionship problem in some other way as babies do need same age companionship.

If you definitely wish to keep the buck, then I would recommend you seek out one or two more buck kittens asap. You could have them all neutered when they are older, and then merge them with your female rats afterwards. Alternatively, you could home the buck now to someone else with kittens of a similar age.

The doe kitten could well be pregnant, but just in case she's not, I suggest arranging to take in one or two other baby does in 3 weeks time (pregnancy lasts 23 days). If she is pregnant, then she won't need companions! Will you be able to cope with raising the litter, or would you like to find a foster home? This forum is a good place for advice, there are many threads on the subject in the 2011-2015 archive under 'Rat Care: Breeding'.

If you got her from a shop, then they should provide you with a separate cage for the buck, plus a birthing cage. If it wasn't a shop, what has happened to their siblings? If they are still being kept in a mixed sex group, there will be a population explosion (does can become pregnant again immediately after giving birth, so if sexes aren't separated before that, then there will be double the number of litters), and some pregnant does could end up in homes who won't have a clue what to do. :(

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my websites: Cyber Rats (picture site) / Zephyr Stud (rattery site)


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 Post subject: Re: 2 new rats - help!
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:18 pm 
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With regard to housing, in case the doe is pregnant, by the time she is 7 1/2 weeks old, she will need to be living in a birthing cage which has no levels in it at all (she could give birth high up and the babies could fall). Something like an alaska cage would be perfect - it flat packs and will be useful for introductions anyway.

Do you have a second cage? If not, then keep one of the rats in a carrier until you've got one sorted, don't delay the separation - rats can get pregnant at 4 1/2 weeks of age.

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Mary x

my websites: Cyber Rats (picture site) / Zephyr Stud (rattery site)


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 Post subject: Re: 2 new rats - help!
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:20 pm 
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Rat_lover16 wrote:
Inside the cage I guess the bedding they are used to using as litter is best to put in the litter tray and a new / felt type bedding in the rest of the cage.

Rats should be given loose substrate on the main cage floor to provide them with enrichment and the opportunity for natural behaviours such as burrowing, nesting, and foraging for scattered food. Felt/fleece is not suitable.

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Mary x

my websites: Cyber Rats (picture site) / Zephyr Stud (rattery site)


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 Post subject: Re: 2 new rats - help!
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:23 pm 
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Ahh I dont use use fleece, cant stand it.

I keep seeing so many people use it.


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 Post subject: Re: 2 new rats - help!
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:25 pm 
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Joined: Tue Mar 14, 2017 11:32 am
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Ok, will seperate as soon as i get home, we have a carrier but actually, could keep them on seperate levels and block with levels that don't have holes in them - if that makes sense.
At the moment, we have a mixture of shredded carboard - the softest kind - shredded hemp, and shredded teabag substrate. We did quite a lot of research and these seemed to be the best and we wanted to give them options. When they are accustomed to the cage we are going to start scatter feeding them, but while they are still nervous, we have a bowl for them. We were thinking of replacing one of the levels with fleece....would this be a good idea?


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 Post subject: Re: 2 new rats - help!
 Post Posted: Tue Mar 14, 2017 1:27 pm 
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Location: South Cambridgeshire
Unfortunately there is a fashion for using fleece - presumably because it 'looks nice' from some people's pov, the sort of person who puts their own aesthetics above the needs of their pets. :( Personally, I think there's nothing nicer than seeing rats enjoying making use of a proper substrate. :D

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Mary x

my websites: Cyber Rats (picture site) / Zephyr Stud (rattery site)


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