African Soft-Furred Rat
  Inside scoop from Aqualand on Praomys natalensis (probably)

 
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 Factoids

Origin

Natal province in South Africa

Sexual Differences

Male's scrotum quite obvious

Temperature

Room temperature fine

Attitude

Active.  They get along fine in groups.

Biggest Threat

None in captivity

Schedule

Nocturnal but flexible.

Security

Needs a lid and a hide box

Size

About the size of a regular hamster

Foods

Anything a rat will eat

Water

Water bottle most practical
Substrate Aspen works well

LA
African soft furred rats are definitely little cuties.

LA
Two African soft furred mice in a two-inch food bowl.

Origin.  These cute little guys originally came from the Natal Province in South Africa.  They are the most numerous rats in Africa, so you know they can't be difficult to keep.  They breed quite readily in captivity.  In Africa they are a crop-eating pest rather than a friendly pocket pet. 

LA
Obvious male here.

Sexing.  If they're sexually mature, you can spot the males quite easily.  They're harder to sex accurately when young.

LA
He's looking around curiously.

Easy to Handle.  Once they get used to you, Your African soft furred rats will let you hold them.  Rather than grab them from above, grasp them by the base of their tail and place them on your other hand.  They're not afraid and don't try to escape.

LA
Here you see all the basics you need.

Basic Needs.  You'll need a glass or metal cage, a food bowl, water bottle, exercise wheel, cozy hiding place, substrate, and a secure lid.  Aquariums work very well because African soft furred rats cannot chew through glass .  Like most rodents, they will eat/rip out the silicon seals.

LA
He's Eating in his plastic food bowl.   Note the chew marks on the right side.

Food Bowl.  Since these little guys chew like crazy, you probably should use a ceramic bowl.  Cereal bowls have a tendency to flip over.  Ceramic bowls are heavy and not particularly expensive.

 

LA
African soft furred rats do like their water.

LA
Non-rat-proof bottles do not last long.

Water Source.  Water bottles work best.  It takes them two minutes to figure out how a water bottle works.  The bottles keep their water clean and their substrate dry.  You will be ahead to choose a rat-proof bottle.

LA
Most rodents need an exercise wheel. 

LA
They seem to know how an exercise wheel works.

LA
Plastic wheels are good for their feet but will disappear bite by bite.

LA
They even learn to both run in the same direction.

LA
Short break from the wheel for a zucchini snack.

Exercise Wheel.  African soft furred rats are active little rascals.  Since their cages are never big enough, they will use an exercise wheel -- not as much as a hamster, but quite a bit.  Smooth wheels or wheels with tiny grids are undoubtedly easier on their tiny tootsies.

LA
They like hide boxes.  They love to chew on wood.

Hide Boxes.  African soft furred rats like cozy little dens.  They'll fill it with substrate and pile substrate around the perimeter -- just like we built our little forts when we were kids.  Except most of us did not chew on our walls.

LA
Good little eaters.

Foods.  "Not a picky" eater describes your little rat best.  He'll thrive on lab blocks, any rodent or bird seed mixture, or bird pellets.  They'll probably eat dog food, cat food, koi pellets, and turtle sticks.  We just haven't tried them yet.  Plus just like the regular rats, they'll eat nearly anything you'll eat.  Contrary to cartoons, gnawing critters do not particularly love cheese.  They love sunflower seeds.

LA
Sunflower seeds are chosen first.

LA
Lab blocks help keep their teeth ground down.

LA
Sorting for the very best tasting bird pellet.

LA
African soft furred rats usually ignore unshelled peanuts.

LA
They will fight for super worms.

LA
Yum.

LA
They wrestle for possession of tasty superworms.

 

Last Words.  We caught on to these guys just lately.  We were behind the curve.  Some info pages say they're a little bitey, but so are most rodents if you try to rush them.  Ours are mellow fellows.  We'll add breeding info as soon as we breed them.  As an aside, African soft furred rats are cute little devils and have very little odor.  LA

Breeding.  Cathy Butler, an official Aqualand employee for years, bought three of our soft furred rats when they first came in at the beginning of this month.  She sent us this cell phone picture today.  She says her male has started to bite.

CB
pretty good size litter here.

LA
African soft-furred rats have good-sized lirrers.

Outtakes

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Goodbye.
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