RAT-FINKS

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This is the email I send out before you take your babies home.

Hello,

I bet you are excited about picking up your babies this weekend! If you own rats I will ask that the day you are coming to the rattery that you do not have contact with your rats that day and that you wear clothes that your rats have not come in contact with. I ask this of all clients who have rats. I also ask that you do not visit a pet store 72 hours prior to visiting my rattery. Pet store rats often are sick and you could easily carry something home on your clothing or in your nasal passage way (like mycoplasma). All of this may seem silly but it is to keep my rattery safe and allows me to continue to have an open (allowing people to come into my home) rattery. Thank you for understanding.

I schedule appointments in 30 minute sessions. Please try be to on time for your appointment. I want everyone to have enough time to ask any questions they may have. I do not want appointments to over lap and have the next adopter feel that they were ignored or rushed. My goal is to make sure you feel confident in your adoption.

Here is my information again.
Address - TBA
Phone - 413.219.0133

You will need to bring something to bring them home in. A box that closes, a rodent carrier, a small travel cage, etc. is good. Please put some bedding in it. You can put a hide in it and food/treats. They will most likely not eat on the way home though. They will not need a water bottle for the ride home. (The motion of the car and bumps will make the water bottle leak and get the bedding wet. This may make them cold.)

Remember...

When your babies come home to you they may be nervous. They are just leaving Mom, their siblings, and all the knew. They may need a few days to be left alone in the cage and adjust to their new home's scents and sounds. Trying to avoid loud noises and excessive activity near their cage will help them adjust faster. The more you talk to them, hold them, and interact with them the more they will bond with you and enjoy your company. However do not be discouraged if they do not come right out of the cage to see you. Rats are prey animals so they will be cautious of things. You will most likely need to reach in the cage and pick them up to take them out. I highly recommend putting their cage in a very public area; an area that you frequent most of the day. For most people this will mean that their cage should be in the living room. Having them where you spend most of your time will help them get used to your noises and smell. It will help them get used to you faster. I do not recommend putting the cage in a spare room or a bedroom that you are only in for a few hours a day. Putting them where you are the most will help them adjust to you and not be fearful when you approach the cage. You can also put an old shirt (they may chew it so make sure you don't mind losing it) in their cage. Wear the shirt to bed a few nights so it gets your scent on it then put it in their cage (I would hang it as a hammock) for them to interact with.

Rats should be kept in warm, draft free areas of your home. Do not keep them in a cold room, near a window, near a fan, or near the AC. Being too cold, especially babies, can make them sick. If it is cold the day you are picking them up then please put nesting material (tissues, fleece strips, a blanket, etc.) along with bedding in the travel carrier so they can stay warm on the car ride home. The stress of leaving their mother and siblings then riding in a cold car can cause a mycoplasm flare up. Try to keep a quiet and calm household for the first week of them being home. Stress can cause a rat to have a mycoplasm flare up. (If they get a mycoplasm infection they will need to be treated with antibiotics. Usually Baytril and Doxycycline).

Do not feed the rats through the bars of the cage. This will encourage biting. Do not stick things in through the cage as this encourages biting as well. Rats can not see well so they will just grab some thing that comes through the bars with their mouth to inspect it. I do not recommend feeding new rats by hand. (Feeding by hand will teach them to associate your hand with food. This may lead to biting.) As you start to bond with your rats you can place treats in front of them and work up to feeding them treats by hand. Some rats may become over zealous and bite your fingers expecting a treat; again they can not see well enough to distinguish treat from finger. If this happens cease feeding them by hand.

With rats less is more. What I mean by this is when you are playing with them it is best to play with them in a small area. Like on your bed or couch. (You can cover the furniture with an old blanket as they may go to the bathroom.) If you try to put the rats on the floor of a room (especially new rats) and go to play with them they may be scared. Rats always look for predators so they may run away and hide under something. Getting them back out could be traumatic for them and they may bite. Just think, if some big unknown creature is chasing you down and trying to grab you from where you feel safe you would be very scared and try to defend yourself. Plus, when playing with them on a piece of furniture they will be forced to interact with you. Climbing on you, hiding in your clothes, and beginning to recognize your scent.
If your rat is sleeping be sure to wake them up by talking to them before you attempt to pick them up. You may startle them awake and they may bite. If your rat is hiding you should not stick your hand in the hide. This may cause they to feel threatened / cornered and they may bite. You should lift the hide up so they can see you and then pick them up.

If you notice your rat is leaving little dribbles of urine on you that is normal. Rats will often "mark" to find their way back; remember they can't see well. Many rat owners are happy to be marked because it means their rat feels comfortable with them and wants to find them again. If they are fully urinating or defecating on you then you can firmly say no and put them back in their cage for 5 to 10 minutes; you can then take them back out. Rats do go to the bathroom often so they are usually not doing this on purpose. (When you first get them there may be some fear urinating/defecating but this should slow down as they become used to you.) When they go to the bathroom on you and get put back into the cage they will start to associate that going to the bathroom on you gets their play time cut short. Some will even get antsy on you (trying to show they need to go to the bathroom) or leave you to go to the bathroom off of you. But rats are rodents and rodents do go a lot and often on their owner. You can try to limit this by waiting a while after they eat. Rats who just ate will usually go to the bathroom on you more.

If you have rats already at home please remember to do a quarantine and a proper introduction with the babies. (Here is information on introducing your new rats to your old rats -http://the-firefly-rattery.webs.com/Facts.html#3 ) Just putting all the rats together (especially in your old rats' cage) can result in fighting and injuries. Keep in mind your rats are much bigger and stronger than the babies and they can really hurt them; even kill them. Babies should be at least 12 weeks old before you introduce them to adults. At 12 weeks they will be big enough to handle scuffles and more easily defend themselves. Please be safe.

Rats should be feed a pellet/lab block diet (preferably Oxbow, Mazuri, or Native Earth (formerly Harlan Teklad)) with fruits, vegetables (they like cooked better) and some treats like cereal, pasta, etc. They can also be feed cook bones (chicken, pork, beef, etc.) to help keep their ever growing teeth trim. They do not really like to chew on wood blocks so bones are a good way to get them to keep their teeth trim. (If you get wood blocks/toys attach them to the cage because putting them in the litter will result in them getting urinated on.) They can be feed meat and eggs but not too much as diets high in protein can lead to eczema. Avoid avocado, grapes, raisins, onions, garlic, and anything like onions and garlic as these are toxic to rats. The peels of citrus fruits may lead to testicular cancer in male rats. Diets high in fat, carbs, and sugar promote tumors. (Here is a list of most foods rats can not eat - http://the-firefly-rattery.webs.com/Facts.html#10 )
The rats should have access to lab blocks at all times. They often do not keep their food in a bowl and will instead hide it. So try and keep an eye on how much they have left and feed accordingly. If you feed them and they eat the blocks right away then that means they did not have anything stored (as they do eat throughout the day/night) and you should increase the amount of blocks. When you clean the cage for the first time you will get a good idea if you are feeding too much; as you will find a stash of blocks. However, over feeding is better then under feeding. These rats are tiny growing babies so they will need a lot of food.

Keep in mind when the babies come to you they will be very small. The cage you bought may have a bar spacing too big for them. They might slip right through and escape. You may have to get a smaller spaced bar cage (anything 1/2 inch and under is perfect) or wrap your current cage with hardware clothe. Make sure the cage you do have for them when they are grown will be big enough for them. Also, make sure if the cage has wire levels that you pad them out and cover them with something nonporous so they do not get bumble foot. If you bought a Double Critter Nation then I recommend sectioning it off (securing the ramp up so they can not get up to the upper section) so they are only using half of the cage. This will make it easier to retrieve them. (If you have to chase them around the whole huge cage they can become scared.) As they get bigger you can open the cage back up.

Do not use a paper fluff bedding such as carefresh, a carefresh type bedding, Kaytee Clean And Cozy, or Oxbow Pure Comfort. Do not use cedar shavings, corncob bedding, or bedding with additives (like lavender, rose, baking soda). These are harmful to the rats. They can cause respiratory illnesses. Especially the paper fluff bedding (it is extremely dusty) and cedar; as its essentials oils mix with ammonia in the urine and create a toxic gas. Avoid scented bedding as rats have a very sensitive respiratory tract and can get sick from scented bedding. (Some beddings have lavender in them. Lavender is a natural rodent repellent.) With that in mind avoid lighting candles or incenses near them, keep them away from drafty windows, fans, and ACs, also avoid smoking near them. Kiln dried pine, aspen, and Eco bedding are great options. Always remember to freeze bedding for at least 24 hours before use to prevent mites/lice.

With two or three rats you will not have to clean the cages as often as I have to. But your rat cage should not smell, it should especially not smell like ammonia. When their urine breaks down ammonia is the by product. Ammonia is very toxic and creates lesions on the lungs. This leaves open wounds and can lead to URIs. As each rat is different you will just have to see how often the cage will need to be cleaned. My guess would be every 5 to 7 days; however levels should be wiped down as needed so they are not walking in waste. It is also good to wash/disinfect the cage on a regular schedule. That will cut down on any bacteria growing and it will make your cage stay that much cleaner! You can also litter box train them and just clean the litter box every few days and the cage every couple weeks. A lot of people are able to do this and love the way the cage stays cleaner longer.

Please re-verify your supplies (the name of the bedding and food along with a photo of your cage) and please let me know you have read and this entire email.

If you have any questions let me know. Your babies can't wait to meet you!

.:Anya:.

The Firefly Rattery