Learn what kind of food, diet, cages, bedding, and toys are good for your little pet rats!
Pet Rats - My journal about my cute little rats!
Pet Rat Journal
I wasn't into rats at the start. I knew I wanted a pet rodent for the company and entertainment, but I wasn't looking for rats - it didn't even cross my mind!
In fact, I thought rats were filthy and fierce, but I couldn't be more wrong. While I was reading up on hamsters, I chanced upon an article on mice. And then mice seemed like the perfect rodent - until I read people's comments on their pet rats and how contented and happy they were with them.
One thing led to another, and before long, I was PORING over information about pet rats...and one fine day, I went out to buy my first two male pet rats: Coffee and Jump!
Day 0: At the Pet Shop
There weren't any breeders around my area, so I had to get my rats from the pet shop. It wasn't easy finding a pet shop that sold rats as well. Most pet shops just sold mice.
There was even a pet shop that said they sold rats when I called, but when I arrived, they pointed me to a few cute looking mice. Which really tells you about how knowledgeable and experienced some pet shop owners are.
Luckily the pet shop I went to seemed nice. Coffee and Jump were in a clean looking tank with 2 other male rats (probably from the same litter), playing around on some paper-based bedding, and had a few ceramic playhouses. I managed to get everything from the pet shop, but I made a few mistakes:
- I didn't prepare my pet rats' house beforehand. They had a few hamster cages and tanks around that they were recommending, but I wasn't comfortable with those (see the page on Is a Tank or Cage Better?).
So I had to get a brand new aquarium tank. On hindsight, I should have scouted around for a second-hand tank that would have cost much less. I knew that I was going to get baby rats, so cages would probably not be adequate, since baby rats can pretty much squeeze through anything.
- I didn't do my research on the type of bedding to get. In the end, I got myself a huge 12 litres (hey, it was economical) bag of cedar wood shavings. Big mistake. Read why at the page on Bedding and Litter for Pet Rats.
After I got back home, I placed my two ratties into their tank. They were the most adorable things! Then I went around the house to look for items to put into the tank for them. I managed to find these:
- A stoneware cup
- A toilet paper roll
- A empty cereal box (that I cut into half)
- A shoebox (that I put into the tank without the lid)
- A small saucer (to put their food in)
Day 1: The Big Decision
Since Day 0, I knew that my pet rats couldn't stay in their tank for long. The tank seemed too small for the pair of curious ratties. They loved to explore and sniff at everything, and run around the whole tank. I couldn't bear to see them cooped up in such a small enclosed tank, so I went around looking for something bigger for them.
I did some research on tanks and cages, and found that people had a lot of success on cabinet cages (Read more: Is a Tank or Cage Better?). I had a spare cabinet at home, so I was seriously thinking of converting it into a cabinet cage for my pet rats. But then, I managed to chance upon an eBay listing of an old Ferplast Brio Mini cage going cheap!
That was the luckiest thing to happen. I grabbed at the chance, and bought the Ferplast cage immediately. It came the very next day, personally delivered by the seller. Amazing! Other than a bit of rust, and being totally empty inside (no perches, shelves, feeding cups, AT ALL), it was in fantastic condition.
Now I just have to convert it into something that my pet rats could live in. Read more about how I converted the Ferplast Brio Mini aviary/bird cage into a proper rat cage: Build Your Own Rat Cage.
Unfortunately, I found out that the bars of the cage were too widely spaced. It looked fine, but Coffee apparently had no problems squeezing through. What a disappointment - I was so looking forward to letting them stay in their new cage! I guess my little pet rats are still too young. I'll wait another month for them to grow bigger before moving them to the cage again.
Day 2: Nest Builders
My little rats are so adorable! I put some paper into their tank, and Coffee immediately goes and drags it into his nest box.
My pet rats enjoy a good couple of hours of running around with me outside their cage. They just love to explore, sniff, chewing whatever intrigues them. The trouble is that they tend to pee and defecate, so I'll have to run after them and be ready with a tissue!
Coffee and Jump also enjoy snuggling in their nest together (sometimes they play-fight though, and it's always Coffee picking a fight with Jump). Rats live in a pack or a colony and I suggest getting two or three rats at a time, of the same sex.
Day 4: Bedding Booboo
I cleaned out my pet rats' tank today, and decided to stop using the cedar shavings. Based on Safe Bedding and Litter for Pet Rats, I tried using paper as their bedding. I took a small stack of paper, and cut it up with a pair of scissors, and made enough to line the entire floor of their tank.
Coffee and Jump seemed pretty happy with the paper strips. It serves two purposes too - bedding to line the tank, and as nesting materials for my pet rats! This is temporary though - I intend to get a proper bedding, because it'll be more absorbent and will control odours better.
I also discovered that my pet rats ate up everything in their commercial rat diet mix, save for a dark-greenish pellet. These pellets always end up crushed and uneaten the next morning. After I did some research, I found out that they were made of alfafa, and rats tended to starve than to eat that.
It's no big worry anyway, since alfafa is mainly to aid their digestion. See more info about a Recommended Rat Diet. I feed my pet rats fresh fruits and vegetables, so they shouldn't have any problems with digestion. Do note that rats have certain foods that they can't eat. Check them out here: Food and Plants to Avoid.
Day 8: New Bedding!
I ordered a pack of Care Fresh bedding, and it came today!
Care Fresh Bedding
Promotes a more natural living environment than other bedding substrates. Its patented formula ensures that it is free from pine and cedar oils which may be harmful to small animals. Great for small pets - rats, rodents, rabbits, birds, reptiles and exotics. 10 liters. Made from reclaimed cellulose. Biodegradable and flushable in small quantities.
I immediately replaced the cut-up paper (which was already getting soggy and smelly) with the new Care Fresh bedding. And it really looks much more comfortable for my dear ratties!
FancyPetRats.com last updated 22 Feb, 2014