Rats

Housing  |   Litter & Bedding  |   Sphinx or Hairless Rats  |   Housing Hairless Rats  |   Temperature - Hairless  |   Water  |   Diet  |   Diet - Hairless  |   Cuts & Abrasions


Housing
Most of the experts will tell you a 10 gallon aquarium for one rat and a 15 gallon aquarium for two rats. I say buy the biggest one you can. You can also choose a wire cage. They provide more ventilation than an aquarium. A pan at least 2" high will prevent litter from being kicked out.
When most people think of rats, they think of those menacing wild rats. Domestic rats are as different from wild rats are as dogs from wolves! They are affectionate, intelligent, loving, and playful. They are also very smart. You can train a rat almost anything that you can train your dog to do and chances are the rat will learn quicker. Rats are very social animals and bond to people quickly. That is why they make good pets for children as well as adults.

Rats very rarely bite. They only bite out of fear and not anger. Occasionally a mother will bite protecting her babies or fingers that smell like food poked through the cage. That is why it is important to wash your hands before handling your pet.

Rats are in the rodent family. Their teeth grow continuously throughout their lives. Therefore, they need to gnaw them to keep them worn down. Because of this rats and mice should not be left to roam around the house.

Sphinx or Hairless Rats
The hairless, or sphinx, rat has a recessive gene that makes it almost devoid of any hair. Because they are hairless, they have special needs compared to it's haired counterparts.

Housing - Hairless
Housing should be free of any sharp edges or splintering materials. The hairless rat has no fur to protect it from getting cuts or scratches.

Temperature - Hairless

The hairless rat is extremely sensitive to temperature. They can get cold and get hypothermia and being cold can cause their immune system to weaken. Be sure to keep them in a warm place in your home. I provide mine with cutup blankets that I purchase from Goodwill and clean up for them. Don't put their cage near any drafts or near windows where cool air can chill them. In the winter, I also provide my hairless with a
Zoo Med pad that can be placed under their cage (if using an aquarium) to keep them warm. I also use it on especially hot days when I'm running the air conditioner to keep them warm. You can buy Zoo Med's at any petstore in the reptile section. Be sure your hairless has a nesting area. You can use boxes, pvc pipes, oatmeal containers, etc.

Diet - Hairless

Hairless rats require a diet higher in protein and fat. This is because they burn much more off making body heat than standard rats. Added fat can be added by providing your hairless with premium dog food, cat food, cooked chicken, fish, and eggs.

Cuts & Abrasions
Hairless rats can easily acquire cuts and scratches and they can easily become infected. Always keep fresh bedding ( I suggest Carefresh which has no splintering materials in it),avoid anything in their cage that can cause cuts and scratches. If your pet does get a cut, wipe him down with a wet, warm wash cloth and apply peroxide immediately to avoid infection. Keep a watchful eye when you hairless is playing with their haired friends. They don't know to be gentle and may unintentionally injure your rat. A good cage mate for your hairless would be another hairless or a really laid back haired rat. Keep your hairless rat's nails trimmed regularly. This will avoid them scratching each other. Always keep a watchful eye as sometimes play can become rough and injuries can occur.

I have found that my hairless are more playful and inquisitive than other rats. They need special care but with all the love and kisses you'll receive and stories you could tell, its well worth it!


Litter & Bedding

DO NOT use cedar and pine shavings. They contain TOXIC hydrocarbons that can cause upper respiratory problems and organ damage. I recommend using Aspen bedding for rats and hamsters and CareFresh or Country Litter for mice. Do not use clay litters.

Water
Make sure a fresh supply of water is available at all times! A demand type water bottle works best and it's cleaner than a dish. If you use a dish, secure it to the side of the cage and put it on a level away from their bedding.

Diet
The basic diet should be rat lab blocks. They are found at most pet supply stores. You can supplement their diet with fresh fruits, vegetables, yogurt and grains. Your rat can eat anything you can but chocolate, which is toxic to rats. You can also give them rawhide or doggie bones to chew on to help with gnawing their teeth down.

As I said earlier, rats are very social and are happiest in pairs or groups. A single rat needs lots of daily human attention.



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