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New to pet rats

Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2016 12:39 am
by Shell31
Hi I'm Michelle and I have recently got 2 new rats for my 2 daughters, Griffin and Phoenix, name by my children. I was wondering if you would be able to give me some advice on how to care, feed, play and how to handle them, I'm worried I may hurt them.
I would like be able to socialise them with my 8 year old dog, Rosie, and not too sure how to go about this.
We have quite a spacious cage but not a lot of things in there yet, as not too sure what to put in, or if I can put things I have at home in there?
I would like to be able to get them out more than I do, but am worried about the space to do it in, are there any type of playpens I could get that my children and myself could get into with them, they are both very sociable and love to be out their cage.
I was also wondering if it's normal for one of them to be dominant over food? Phoenix will take all their food into their house as soon as I put it out, even if Griffin is eating it.
Thank you in advance for any advice.

Re: New to pet rats

Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2016 9:16 am
by Caza66
Hi and welcome to the world of ratties. You will have so much fun. First thing I would like to mention is not to socialise them with your dog. It would be good if you could teach your dog to leave them alone. it just removes all temptations.

There's lots of threads on here about everything so a good search will help you. But basically, handle the rats daily, as much as you can as this will help them settle in better. They will need time out of their cage too. I free range mine in the hall, where doors can be closed and I put a board up against any ways that have no door. In there I have a few toys, like wooden wine racks for climbing, cat scratching house, card board box filled with newspaper.

Things in the cage can be anything - boxes, and purpose built houses, cat litter trays for digging in, belts and ropes for climbing. And of course hammocks, either ready made or children's tshirts would do, I use wilkos shower curtain rings for hanging things. But I would leave out enclosed houses until they get used to you.

Feeding, a lot of people make their own mix so have a look on the feeding thread. You can buy ready made rat muesli and mix it with fruity rabbit, dont get nuggets. And then daily give them some fresh food, like veggies, fruit, Cous Cous, rice, pasta (small quantities), mashed potatoes. It's also worth scatter feeding the dry mix in the substrate of their cage as enrichment for them. I would recommend cardboard squares/strips or Fitch bedding rather than shavings.

Have fun and lots of scritches.

Re: New to pet rats

Posted: Mon Dec 26, 2016 11:08 am
by cyber ratty
I agree about your dog - don't take any risks, and never let them share the same space. When you have your rats out of the cage, then just shut the dog out of the room.

A play pen doesn't usually work with rats, they will simply feel obliged to find a way out of it! It's better to find a space in the house that is (or can be made) rat safe - people often use bathrooms or hallways, or you could use panels of correx to block off a corner of the room where there are dangerous or precious things.

Ideas for furnishing the cage can be found in our 'Show your set up' section, you'll probably already have lots of suitable things somewhere at home.

The best method for feeding is to scatter the dry food across the floor so that it mixes in with the loose substrate. The rats will then enjoy foraging for it - it's a much more natural style of eating and prevents any hoarding, cherry picking, or overeating behaviours.