for Your New Pet Rat II
Pet World Visit
You may not want to pick up extremely pregnant female rats by their tails.
Very Friendliest Rodent. Rats are one of the very few critters you can pick up by the tail and still expect them to respond in a civilized manner. After being so rudely hoisted, they still calmly sit on your arm -- directly out of their cage -- without a formal introduction. Nearly all other small animals take off like Speedy Gonzalez when picked up by strangers. Most pet rats have never met a stranger. They like people.
Unlikely Biters. Rats are the least likely to bite you of any animal. However, it’s never a good idea to stick your finger in any animal’s mouth. And leave mama rats with babies alone.
Cage Litter. Avoid cedar chips. Exposure to these chips seems to trigger respiratory and neurological problems in rats. Better choices include pine shavings, ground corn cobs, aspen pellets, and rabbit pellets (yes, the food pellets). Pellets look less appealing but have some great odor controlling capabilities that make us love them. You can also use newspapers for temporary litter. Unfortunately, over the long haul, newspapers can discolor your rats. We’ve seen warnings for years about the ink used on newspapers harming rodents. Don’t worry. Most rodents can’t read. Actually, most papers use soy-based inks -- at least here in Iowa.
Recycle Litter. If you have a garden, don't throw away your used rat litter. It makes great mulch in your garden. Rat litter mulch helps reduce your weeding work, helps keep you soil moister and cooler, eliminates muddy walkways between the rows, and fertilizes your vegetables. When mixed into your soil, it also improve your soil's tilth. Your garden gets easier to work every year.
Best Foods. Most rats will eat anything you’ll eat. But the best foods for them are the rat pellets manufactured to meet their exact nutritional needs. Rats will also eagerly snack on any of the small animal “treat sticks.” And you can feed them most gerbil and hamster foods if you can’t find rat food. (Forget rabbit and guinea pig foods for your rats.)
Constant Gnawers. Rats gnaw all the time. Their teeth will outgrow their mouths unless they have access to hard foods or “chew toys.” We’ve never seen an actual case of overgrown teeth in rats -- ever. We see overgrown teeth mostly in rabbits and less often in hamsters. That’s because rats never stop gnawing. This gnawing habit makes them incredibly destructive if they escape from their cages. (Oddly enough, escaped rats love to chew tiny slits in airline tubing.)
Very Smart. If your rats can possibly escape, they will. Rats are great escape artists. Happily, rats are usually easy to recapture, because they’re not afraid of you. They like you. They’ll crawl right up on the couch, sit on your lap, and watch TV with you -- especially Animal Planet.
Social Animals. Most rats enjoy the company of other rats. Mature males, however, can get into severe arguments at breeding time. Several males in a cage without females get along okay. Two males in a cage with females will occasionally fight.
Longevity. Rats have the potential to live four or five years. Most live two to three years. Cedar shavings shorten their lives. Use the aspen or corn cobs, if you want more years from these friendly, little mammals.
The re-make of Willard came out in
2003. Watch it on VHS or DVD. You rat fans will
love it (or hate it). Non-rat fans won’t
even go there. LA.
Go to Rats I
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