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Fancy Rats - May 16th 2014, 03:19 AM

I might be getting a fancy rat, depending on my living arrangements for school in September. Anyone have any tips or advice? I've also got a few specific questions if anyone with experience wants to answer.

Anything specific about the rats I should ask the people at the pet store when buying?
Should I get 2 so that they won't be lonely?
And what kind of cage should they have? Does it have to be wire or would a tank work? If they tend to kick sawdust around like my gerbils used to, I might want a glass tank, but I don't know if that works for them.

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Re: Fancy Rats - May 16th 2014, 03:56 AM

Hey there!

I keep rats myself so feel free to ask me any questions you might think of.

Firstly, DEFINITELY get two rats. They're very social creatures and like to be in pairs or groups. They will get lonely if left alone for long periods of time so you need to make sure you're interacting with them often too. They don't forget people as other rodents, like hamsters, do but they can get in a huff with you if you don't play with them often. Sometimes when I go visit my family I'll leave them with my boyfriend for a couple of weeks but they'll act moody with me for a few days after I come back home.

Rats do make a bit of a mess sometimes but DO NOT keep them in a tank. They have very sensitive respiratory systems and are easily prone to infection so need the ventilation that a wire cage gives. Also, as they have sensitive respiratory systems sawdust isn't the best thing to keep them on so you should find something else to use and this will also stop them kicking it everywhere. I know a lot of people use fleece liners to line the cage but as rats like to chew fabric up and they do pee a lot I personally don't use it. I use shredded cardboard called Finacard. I'm not sure if Finacard deliver to Canada as they're a UK-based company but I'm sure there are some similar brands you can find there.

The rule with rats, and most pets really, is to buy the biggest enclosure you can afford and a good rat cage can be quite expensive so it might be worth saving some money before going to get the rats.
If you're planning on getting two then make sure the cage you buy is at least 78cm wide x 70cm heigh x 43cm deep. Rats are also very good at escaping so if you're getting baby rats you should try to make sure the bar spacing isn't too wide. The bar spacing in my cage is 0.8mm which is very narrow but you can probably get away with bar spacing up to 1.2cm. Rats have delicate feet too so if you have a cage that has no solid shelving and it all metal wires it's best to cover it with fleece liners or remove the shelving and put some solid ones in.

Rats from pet stores can sometimes be quite unhealthy due to them usually being kept in small enclosures that are often not well ventilated. If you can find a breeder in your area then you should try to get a rat from them and I'm sure they'll be able to give you detailed answers of what cages and food will be best. Most breeders will also be willing to save the animal until you've got the enclosure and everything sorted out too.

I hope this helped! I'm sorry I wasn't able to suggest some specific brands of cages but I have no idea what sort of things are sold in Canada. Good luck with getting your rats, they really are wonderful animals to have
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Re: Fancy Rats - May 16th 2014, 05:16 AM

You definitely need to get a pair or more. Rats don't do so well when they're alone. I'd also suggest you don't use a tank. Aside from the health risks, rats are climbers, and they can chew through things and escape if you don't have a good cage. There should be some wire cages at your store labeled as suitable for rats if you need help finding a cage. Rats do like to dig and move bedding around their cage, but they're usually pretty good about not making a mess of your room.

As for where to buy them, a myco-resistant breeder would be ideal if you can find one not too out of the way. Of course, I usually buy mine from the pet store anyways. As Khaleesi said, sometimes they can be unhealthy when sold as feeder rats, so make sure they're eating and everything once you take them home. And don't be alarmed if they start fighting, since that's how they establish the pecking order when they first meet.
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