First time owner, any advice

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Jode
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First time owner, any advice

Post by Jode » Sat Feb 13, 2016 5:26 pm

OK so I've never had rats before always hamsters. I done some research and have decided I would like 2 males. I am going to get the set up over the course of the month, I've been looking at the little friends 3 level cage as I would to have 4 in total. I've read a bit about toilet training and will do this from the start. I'm struggling with what things to use in the bottom of the cage. I gathered it is wise not to be using sawdust and such things. I'm thinking the bedding that you get in the vets would be a good idea, but what about whilst toilet training them? Also what are good treats as a reward? Daily feeding should i buy the stuff from pet shops or sections or should I just feed them meat and veg, sunflower seeds, mealworm. I'm also looking for a local breeder to purchase them from, yet to find yet, but I'm not rushing it is want to get it all right. So any advice would be helpful. Also what breed do you recommend or have had experience with. Thank you ineed advance and I'm sure this will be one of many posts lol.

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RedFraggle
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Re: First time owner, any advice

Post by RedFraggle » Sat Feb 13, 2016 6:35 pm

Hi. Which country are you in? What's available in terms of substrate, cages and food varies by location so it'll help to know.
Slave to: Rescue boys Howard, Archie Broadstripe, Ray Shortstripe, Norman Wonkystripe, Albert, Bisley and Walter
Too many on the bridge to list.

Jode
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Re: First time owner, any advice

Post by Jode » Sat Feb 13, 2016 7:07 pm

Hi I'm in the UK, I'm struggling with what to feed them as I'm reading and everything it's really over whelming so laymen terms would be great haha. Thanks

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RedFraggle
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Re: First time owner, any advice

Post by RedFraggle » Sat Feb 13, 2016 8:06 pm

Have a look at the "rat rations" website. Lots of excellent food and bedding choices there. Also look up "shunamite diet".
I make my own mix based on the shunamite diet.
My fave substrate is walmsey premier bed, I like the cardboard options best.
Cages depend on budget. I have a savic royal suite. The Mamble 100 is a good well priced option for 2 rats and is £40 from amazon.
Slave to: Rescue boys Howard, Archie Broadstripe, Ray Shortstripe, Norman Wonkystripe, Albert, Bisley and Walter
Too many on the bridge to list.

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RedFraggle
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Re: First time owner, any advice

Post by RedFraggle » Sat Feb 13, 2016 8:09 pm

Mine have a corner litter pan and I put breeder celect paper cat litter in it. My little ones have a pee rock (a large smooth pebble, you can get pebbles like that in garden centres) for whatever reason they feel obliged to pee on large smooth pebbles which helps a lot with training.
I also feed free veggies and table scraps daily.
Slave to: Rescue boys Howard, Archie Broadstripe, Ray Shortstripe, Norman Wonkystripe, Albert, Bisley and Walter
Too many on the bridge to list.

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RedFraggle
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Re: First time owner, any advice

Post by RedFraggle » Sat Feb 13, 2016 8:11 pm

In terms of breeds, I think you mean varieties which is what the different colours are called. I would go to either a rescue or a breeder registered with either the NFRS (national fancy rat society, there's a breeders list on their website) or a regions affiliated rat club registered breeder. Hope these multiple posts help!!
Slave to: Rescue boys Howard, Archie Broadstripe, Ray Shortstripe, Norman Wonkystripe, Albert, Bisley and Walter
Too many on the bridge to list.

Jode
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Re: First time owner, any advice

Post by Jode » Sat Feb 13, 2016 8:19 pm

Lots of food for thought which is great thanks. I as have just come across that cage and it seems perfect, so I think I may go with this. Will check the food and bedding you mentioned thank you for your time much appreciated

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Mayamy
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Re: First time owner, any advice

Post by Mayamy » Sat Feb 13, 2016 8:28 pm

If you're looking to get rats from a breeder then they can often advise on food too and may in fact be able to sell you a bit of their mix to start you off :) Shunamite style diets are fairly common - either using a rabbit mix as a base or a more straights-style diet (should be more info in the articles section).

Some people do use fleece or vetbed like stuff as substrate, although I have no clue how they do so without needing to wash it at least daily :lol: Others use a diggable substrate (e.g. cardboard squares) which you can scatter the mix in to allow them to forage for it rather than just stuff their faces or fight over a bowl!

As RedFraggle said, there aren't difference breeds of fancy rat (even dumbos, no matter what some pet stores may say :roll: ), just varieties/colours so any health/temperament links are more genetic than variety related.

There are a variety of articles, some of which might be useful *HERE*
Amy - with Pixel, Dora, Ren, Vex, Nova & Tali

Jode
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Re: First time owner, any advice

Post by Jode » Sat Feb 13, 2016 8:40 pm

Yes I was thinking more of having a good few sets of fleece or vet bed and wash every other day or so, this would be easier for me I think. Especially once I have litter trained as I'm hoping it would then be every other day. Feeding wise would I feed them the mixture twice a day and then offer fruit and veg every other day/3 times a week?

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squeakrat
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Re: First time owner, any advice

Post by squeakrat » Sat Feb 13, 2016 9:02 pm

If you're going to use something like vetbed, you should offer them digging opportunities in the cage, as this is a natural behaviour for them. You can set up digging boxes containing substrate for this. Personally I use finacard in the base of the cage (around 10cm deep so they can dig and burrow in it), and breeder celect cat litter in litter trays.

Food wise, I only feed dry mix once a day, although it would be fine to split this into two. And I give fruit/veg (although mainly veg) probably about 5 days a week.

ETA Just thought I would add that I find it much easier to use a substrate like finacard and replace it every two weeks (large cage base and deep layer) compared to having to wash and replace fleece or vetbed every couple of days...
Jenny x
:girly: Elfine :dumbogirly: Ada
:rattyrainbow: Scout, Daisy, Meg, Lola, Ruby, Chick, Hope, Pocket, Belle, Dory, Silvermist, Poppy, Tarka, Jasmine, Flora, Penny, Lyra, Cassandra, Luna, Wren, Merryweather, Harper, Izzy, Tigger, Squeak, Bandit, Vandal :rattyrainbow:

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cyber ratty
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Re: First time owner, any advice

Post by cyber ratty » Sun Feb 14, 2016 10:09 am

Jode wrote:OK so I've never had rats before always hamsters. I done some research and have decided I would like 2 males. I am going to get the set up over the course of the month, I've been looking at the little friends 3 level cage as I would to have 4 in total.
Unless you're planning to get the second pair within a few months, I would suggest starting off with a trio, because it's far more interesting for the rats to have a variety of relationships. You'd then need a cage that can house up to 5 (for when you add a pair after a year or so), but the mamble that's been suggested is big enough.
I've read a bit about toilet training and will do this from the start.
If you get your rats from a breeder who uses toilet corners, then they should already be trained - just use the same litter that they are used to.
I'm struggling with what things to use in the bottom of the cage. I gathered it is wise not to be using sawdust and such things. I'm thinking the bedding that you get in the vets would be a good idea, but what about whilst toilet training them?
...Yes I was thinking more of having a good few sets of fleece or vet bed and wash every other day or so, this would be easier for me I think.
You might think it'd be easier for you (although as Squeakrat says, loose substrate is actually easier still), but that isn't the important point. Arranging a cage isn't about what's easier for the owner, or what looks nice, it's about meeting the needs of the rats, and having loose substrate to burrow in, forage amongst, and nest with provides very important enrichment activity.

I think the only excuse for not using loose substrate is when the cage itself has stupidly shallow tray and a made to measure replacement tray isn't possible, but in that case a large digging box is essential. The mamble cage has a good deep base, so that's not a problem. :)

I would recommend finacard for the base, but there are lots of suitable alternatives. However, if you want to use shavings, make sure they are the kiln dried and dust extracted sort.
Also what are good treats as a reward? Daily feeding should i buy the stuff from pet shops or sections or should I just feed them meat and veg, sunflower seeds, mealworm.
The best sort of treat is something similar to their normal diet (so not the sugary yougurt drops etc.), but perhaps a little different in some way. Try small pieces of bread crust, a pea, a hemp seed, or broken dog biscuit (milky bones are popular), but they don't really need treats in normal day to day life, so save them for training sessions.

What you've listed for daily feeding would be very high in protein, rats need to be eating mostly grains. I recommend Rat Rations #11, but again there are various other options using the shunamite diet principles. Avoid pelleted food at all costs though - it is dull, inflexible, and poor quality.
I'm also looking for a local breeder to purchase them from, yet to find yet, but I'm not rushing it is want to get it all right. So any advice would be helpful. Also what breed do you recommend or have had experience with. Thank you ineed advance and I'm sure this will be one of many posts lol.
Rats do vary, but it's down to the line they come from, not their variety. I would suggest meeting a number of breeders and their rats and seeing which you click with best. Try to forget any preconceived ideas though, because when you meet the right rats you'll just know. :love:

Jode
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Re: First time owner, any advice

Post by Jode » Sun Feb 14, 2016 10:28 am

squeakrat wrote:If you're going to use something like vetbed, you should offer them digging opportunities in the cage, as this is a natural behaviour for them. You can set up digging boxes containing substrate for this. Personally I use finacard in the base of the cage (around 10cm deep so they can dig and burrow in it), and breeder celect cat litter in litter trays.

Food wise, I only feed dry mix once a day, although it would be fine to split this into two. And I give fruit/veg (although mainly veg) probably about 5 days a week.

ETA Just thought I would add that I find it much easier to use a substrate like finacard and replace it every two weeks (large cage base and deep layer) compared to having to wash and replace fleece or vetbed every couple of days...
What do you put under the finacard or do you just pop it straight in? I was going to make up some borrow boxes for them put I suppose having it covering the bottom makes sense.

I'm really struggling to find breeders the list I looked at all the contact details are I reachable

Jode
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Re: First time owner, any advice

Post by Jode » Sun Feb 14, 2016 10:31 am

cyber ratty wrote:
Jode wrote:OK so I've never had rats before always hamsters. I done some research and have decided I would like 2 males. I am going to get the set up over the course of the month, I've been looking at the little friends 3 level cage as I would to have 4 in total.
Unless you're planning to get the second pair within a few months, I would suggest starting off with a trio, because it's far more interesting for the rats to have a variety of relationships. You'd then need a cage that can house up to 5 (for when you add a pair after a year or so), but the mamble that's been suggested is big enough.
I've read a bit about toilet training and will do this from the start.
If you get your rats from a breeder who uses toilet corners, then they should already be trained - just use the same litter that they are used to.
I'm struggling with what things to use in the bottom of the cage. I gathered it is wise not to be using sawdust and such things. I'm thinking the bedding that you get in the vets would be a good idea, but what about whilst toilet training them?
...Yes I was thinking more of having a good few sets of fleece or vet bed and wash every other day or so, this would be easier for me I think.
You might think it'd be easier for you (although as Squeakrat says, loose substrate is actually easier still), but that isn't the important point. Arranging a cage isn't about what's easier for the owner, or what looks nice, it's about meeting the needs of the rats, and having loose substrate to burrow in, forage amongst, and nest with provides very important enrichment activity.

I think the only excuse for not using loose substrate is when the cage itself has stupidly shallow tray and a made to measure replacement tray isn't possible, but in that case a large digging box is essential. The mamble cage has a good deep base, so that's not a problem. :)

I would recommend finacard for the base, but there are lots of suitable alternatives. However, if you want to use shavings, make sure they are the kiln dried and dust extracted sort.
Also what are good treats as a reward? Daily feeding should i buy the stuff from pet shops or sections or should I just feed them meat and veg, sunflower seeds, mealworm.
The best sort of treat is something similar to their normal diet (so not the sugary yougurt drops etc.), but perhaps a little different in some way. Try small pieces of bread crust, a pea, a hemp seed, or broken dog biscuit (milky bones are popular), but they don't really need treats in normal day to day life, so save them for training sessions.

What you've listed for daily feeding would be very high in protein, rats need to be eating mostly grains. I recommend Rat Rations #11, but again there are various other options using the shunamite diet principles. Avoid pelleted food at all costs though - it is dull, inflexible, and poor quality.
I'm also looking for a local breeder to purchase them from, yet to find yet, but I'm not rushing it is want to get it all right. So any advice would be helpful. Also what breed do you recommend or have had experience with. Thank you ineed advance and I'm sure this will be one of many posts lol.
Rats do vary, but it's down to the line they come from, not their variety. I would suggest meeting a number of breeders and their rats and seeing which you click with best. Try to forget any preconceived ideas though, because when you meet the right rats you'll just know. :love:
Thank you Mary for all your advice, I was thinking about getting a trio and you have just justified it, I really want to make sure I'm never in a situation where there is only one left alone so how would you recommend avoiding this situation. Again thanks for your advice it's really helpful.

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Mayamy
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Re: First time owner, any advice

Post by Mayamy » Sun Feb 14, 2016 11:15 am

Roughly what area are you in? Might help narrow down the list of breeders a bit. Rats do travel well though (my last kittens actually did a 250+ mile trip!) and sometimes you can organise collection via shows etc.

I usually estimate a 24 month lifespan, work out the total size group I want to aim for and then judge roughly how often I want to add a pair of kittens based on that. So I usually try to add every 8-12 months but even good planning doesn't always work out :lol:
Amy - with Pixel, Dora, Ren, Vex, Nova & Tali

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squeakrat
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Re: First time owner, any advice

Post by squeakrat » Sun Feb 14, 2016 12:35 pm

Jode wrote: What do you put under the finacard or do you just pop it straight in? I was going to make up some borrow boxes for them put I suppose having it covering the bottom makes sense.

I'm really struggling to find breeders the list I looked at all the contact details are I reachable
I put a few layers of newspaper on the bottom of the cage and then cover it with finacard. The rats like digging down and ripping bits of newspaper off the bottom so they can build nests with it, so I often end up with patches where it's completely disappeared! Some people do just put the finacard directly into the cage base though.

Have you looked at the NFRS breeders list? If you say whereabouts you are, people might be able to make suggestions as well. It is quite common for people to have to travel to get their rats, and there's often the possibility of arranging transport via people travelling to shows etc. Alternatively, there are a LOT of rats in rescue at the moment, including kittens, so you could consider rescue rats as well.

If you're looking at a group size of up to 4, what I would suggest is getting a trio to start with. Then once you go down to 2, add a pair of kittens. This way, you stagger the ages within the group, so that you don't have your whole group getting old at the same time. Plus bringing younger rats in usually livens the group up a bit. Like Amy says, planning never works out how you intend it to, but by adding new rats every time to get down to a group of 2, you'll avoid the situation of having a lone rat.
Jenny x
:girly: Elfine :dumbogirly: Ada
:rattyrainbow: Scout, Daisy, Meg, Lola, Ruby, Chick, Hope, Pocket, Belle, Dory, Silvermist, Poppy, Tarka, Jasmine, Flora, Penny, Lyra, Cassandra, Luna, Wren, Merryweather, Harper, Izzy, Tigger, Squeak, Bandit, Vandal :rattyrainbow:

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