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New Rattie Mum, advice needed on food, nesting material, boredom breakers, the works!

Posted: Fri Nov 22, 2019 8:38 pm
by Little_Lovelies
Hi everyone,

I haven't had rats in years and so much has changed!! I've watched so many youtube videos that I'm now worried that even the items that specify that they are suitable for rats and not just 'small animals' may not be, so I'm at a bit of a loss.

My major questions are, what nesting material is best?
I've tried 3 from pets at home and one of my boys ate (not just chewed one) so it all came right back out, another seems dusty but is edible and the 3rd gets everywhere and sticks to them. The 1st was tiny bits of dust extracted white paper, the 2nd was the long strands of white tissue papery stuff in the pink bag, and the third looks like tiny bits of shredded paper.
I keep reading that unbleached, unscented kitchen roll is good but none that I've looked at specify this.
I'm very happy to buy proper bedding but really need guidance on what is actually good and not dusty.
I've also heard that some bedding contains mites and lice?!, how on earth can this be allowed to happen and the bedding not be re-called, surely it could all be frozen by the manufacturers before sale to prevent things like this. I don't know what country comment related to so I'm just hoping that it's not an issue in the UK.
They are on back-to-nature (small pets not cats as I've heard small pets is less dusty), so hopefully that's fine and it's just the nesting material that I need to sort.

What's the best rat nugget these days?
I will be supplementing it with things (possibly one of the home made mixes + fruit and veg.) but would like to use one as a base. I've heard Science selective was great but may not be so good now because a formula change meant that it's no longer 'kidney kind'. My vet recommended Burgess Excel Rat but I've heard from other sources that that's not the best.

And a boredom breaking food dispenser is my last urgent want.
They have a ball from pets at home which they love but it's a little heavy and they will run it to the top of the cage sometimes, so now I'm too scared to leave it in un-supervised in case one drops it on the other. So I', think one of the parrot wheels that clips to the side would solve the problem, but is the plastic safe to be chewed by ratties?

Any tips you can give me on any of the above and anything else you can thing of would be wonderful!

Re: New Rattie Mum, advice needed on food, nesting material, boredom breakers, the works!

Posted: Sat Nov 23, 2019 2:22 pm
by cyber ratty
Welcome back to rat keeping :D things do evolve and improve over the years - in particular, you can now get wheels from tic tac which go up to 16" diameter (fab for big bucks), and layouts are more active with lots of ropes and small perches instead of lots of shelves and hammocks.

Back2Nature is great for toilet corners, but for the main floor you need a nice deep layer of loose substrate instead. I like a mix of finacard and megaspread, but any cardboard or kiln dried dust extracted shavings are fine, and many people like aubiose but I find it makes me cough.

For nesting material, most paper products are okay, but if you think it is dusty, or you don't like it for another reason, then look for another sort. Cheap toilet rolls and kitchen roll is generally fine, shredded normal paper (printing or writing) is fine too. I like the shredded tissue that finacard sells.

I'm not convinced by the stories of mites or lice coming in on bedding, they'd need to have been exposed to rats fairly recently for there to be any transmission risk.

Nuggets of any sort are not suitable for rats. As omnivores they get a lot of pleasure from varied tastes and textures, the best food is a rat rations mix (I'd recommend any of the #11 options). Measure about 15g per rat per day, and scatter it over the loose substrate, and they will eat what they find and stop when they are full. It's a much more natural way to feed and they love foraging for all the last bits.

Parrot toys are great, and you don't have to worry about the plastic, they don't swallow it - rats can close their mouths behind their front teeth. They will get a lot of enrichment through foraging for their daily mix anyway though. :luck:

Re: New Rattie Mum, advice needed on food, nesting material, boredom breakers, the works!

Posted: Tue Nov 26, 2019 3:42 pm
by Little_Lovelies
Hi Cyber Ratty,

Thanks so much for the reply!

Could you tell me if everything in this sample pack is suitable for rattys? ... cts_id=137 All 3 items are listed under the 'rat bedding' catogory on the website but a 2nd opinion would be great : )

I don't suppose you know of any kitchen roll that's definitely un-bleached & un-sented do you? They have so much fun playing with whole sheets of this during their free roaming time that I would really like them to have it in their cage too but just need to settle on a brand that's definitely safe. (I know to avoid any with colours in but I always wonder how they get the white ones so white....)

I'm very pleased to hear that you're not convinced about the mites and lice thing. I guess what I can do to be certain is always buy the stuff a month ahead then if there ever were anything in any of it, it should be an x-creepy crawly by the time the bag's opened. Hopefully there never is anyway but just to be super-duper sure : )

Thanks very much for the advice about the food, I will look at that site again. And I always scatter feed and/or feed them via their treat ball so that it's more of a challenge : )
When we first got them I wanted them to be on exactly what they were already on while they settled in then gradually move them over. As they are on diets I didn't want to feed them treats so I bought some rat muesli to put in their treat ball so that they wouldn't miss out on all the different tastes and textures in the mean-time and couldn't selectively feed either because this wasn't their base diet. This was all going fine then 6 days in our albino guy had what seemed to be a choking incident that scared the life out of me. He was making tiny, quiet squeaking noises and then when I went over to the cage to investigate some cloudly looking yellowy green gunk trickled out of his mouth which looked like human mucus. He looked so sad and was still making the noises so I got him straight out, tried to look in his mouth, phoned a night vets who advised me and thank god he just snapped back to normal again. Once I put him back he went to a corner of the cage and sat very quietly for 20 mins and then again snapped straight back to being completely himself. He's been to the vets twice since then (2 different vets who I've been told are both very good with rats) and they've both said they think it was a one-off and not a sign of illness. Both boys have had full health check from both vets etc. I can't even be certain it was a choking incident as no object came out, but I searched the internet for hours and the only similar thing I could find had been thought to be a choking incident. It said that though they can't vomit, they can create a lot of this (not red?!) mucus when needed to dislodge an item. I told both vets all about this and they said they thought that was probably what it was, so hopefully it's all behind us, but it's left me terrified that he's going to choke on every strange shaped piece of food I give him, so I've been a lot slower with this Ratty Rations stuff that I intended.

That's another question actually, they are mega over the top hyper every time I put more food in, and eat the first few bits as quickly as they can. Is there any way I can get them to be a bit calmer about meal times? Our other guy has put too much food in his month more than once then struggled for a few seconds to get the last bit back out once he's run to a suitable spot to eat it. It really scares me when he does this. I measure out their food in the morning then give it to them in 2/3/4 goes (breakfast, dinner time + a late dinner etc.) so that if they do finish it all they're never too long without food. So I'm doing everything I can to make sure that they're not hungry but also loosing weight, but naturally it's very exciting to get more food if they've run out so I just don't know how I can get them to eat calming and not ram too much in!

That is brilliant news about the parrot toys thank you, I had no idea that they could close their mouths further back! That's such good news as I was worried they might be swallowing tiny fragments of their wooden chew toys by accident when they gnawed them. I've been making sure they're not placed in a position that means they have to stretch upwards to chew them for exactly this reason.

Thanks again for all the advice so far, and sorry this is so long! All help very gratefully received!!

Re: New Rattie Mum, advice needed on food, nesting material, boredom breakers, the works!

Posted: Wed Nov 27, 2019 8:52 am
by cyber ratty
Yes all those finacard products are suitable for rats. I've not bothered to look for unbleached kitchen roll, the plain white sheets seem fine, I've used them for 19 years without issue.

Rats don't need to have their diet changed over gradually (unlike rabbits), so just go for RR. They also don't need to have food available all the time, but in practice, their will probably be the odd seed still waiting to be found most of the time.

That does sound exactly like a choke, yes, but the RR mixes use ingredients which are much smaller, so the rats should find it harder to choke, and take longer to find all of it. If you think they are still eating too quickly, you could perhaps give them a piece of veg first (kale, broccoli, pepper etc.) to reduce their excitement before the dry goes in.

Re: New Rattie Mum, advice needed on food, nesting material, boredom breakers, the works!

Posted: Wed Nov 27, 2019 7:17 pm
by Little_Lovelies
Oh that’s all a massive help thank you!! Can I ask which brand/s of kitchen roll you tend to use? I’d feel happier buying the same exact one if possible. I’m more jittery than a new parent right now i know, lol.

Oh and i’ve just realised that i’ve somehow added this topic in forum help sorry! I think i must have thought i was in general help.

Re: New Rattie Mum, advice needed on food, nesting material, boredom breakers, the works!

Posted: Thu Nov 28, 2019 9:48 am
by cyber ratty
Ooops, I didn't notice - I'll move it for you.

I've used Thirst Pockets, and Tesco own. Probably others too but those are the ones I can remember.

Re: New Rattie Mum, advice needed on food, nesting material, boredom breakers, the works!

Posted: Fri Nov 29, 2019 1:29 pm
by Little_Lovelies
Thank you and thank you, you've been really kind!

Congratulations on your six thousandth post btw, just think how many people you will have helped in that time?!

Re: New Rattie Mum, advice needed on food, nesting material, boredom breakers, the works!

Posted: Sun Dec 01, 2019 5:02 pm
by cyber ratty
Oh yes! Thank you, and it's 6004 now :lol: ...I'm still only 3rd overall though, Acapae Wolf has made nearly 14,000, and she's not even been on for a while. :D

Re: New Rattie Mum, advice needed on food, nesting material, boredom breakers, the works!

Posted: Mon Dec 02, 2019 12:16 am
by Little_Lovelies
Wow some amazing totals, and 3rd is very cool congrats!