Rats - please inform me

Discussion in 'Cat and Pet Forum' started by GoingNowhere, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. GoingNowhere

    GoingNowhere Active Member

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    Just what the title says. I'm a college student who will be moving into an apartment with a few pet-friendly people next year and am pondering the (unlikely, but all too appealing) idea of getting something small and fuzzy to entertain me, give me something to care for, and keep me company. Right now I am the proud owner of 5 pet houseplants which I surprisingly haven't yet managed to kill with kindness. Although my houseplants are well mannered, low maintenance, and thoroughly non-aggressive, after two years they have yet to learn to come when called and don't seem to ever want to interact with me. :p

    I'd love to have something that's a little more interactive and I've been stalking the interwebs looking at rattie photos for the last five days!

    My desires in a pocket pet:

    -something friendly and inquisitive
    -ability to bond with a person and enjoy interaction
    -relatively low maintenance
    -relatively inexpensive
    -not too smelly


    I used to own mice when I lived at home and really loved them, but they sure smelled. I had one PEW in particular, Mozzerella, that I called my mini dog. She was just a ham and while definitely mousey, almost acted like the descriptions that I've seen on rats. I also fostered a bunny for a period of time and while he was cuddly and cute, I don't think I'm really a rabbit person. He didn't seem to like being held. I had a friend with guinea pigs as a kid and while they would tolerate being held and played with, I never got the impression that they enjoyed it. They spent most of their days hiding in their little hut. I'm definitely not a guinea pig fan. Rats seem cool because they seem to have a lot of similarities to mice, but I've read that they're a little more trainable and bond to an owner more easily just because they're not quite so tiny.

    Questions:

    People say they're a bit like mini dogs. To what extent is this true?

    How much do they smell? Like do you walk into the room with the cage and immediately catch a whiff? How does the smell compare to mice?

    How expensive are they on a monthly basis?

    In what ways are they similar to mice? In what ways are they different?

    Do they seem to enjoy being handled and played with if socialized (do they come to the front of the cage or do you need to "catch" them to get them out?

    Have you ever trained one to walk on a leash?

    Would you recommend them?
     
  2. CatStina

    CatStina SBT Lover!!

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    I have never had rats, but have heard they can smell quite a bit.

    I do have gerbils and I love them to bits! My gerbils only need their tank cleaned once a month and it doesn't smell. They are also very sweet and hand tamed. They have to live in same sex pairings, though, or they can get depressed and mean. My two girlies go through about a bag of food every two and a half months and I just use shredded junk mail for bedding, so that's free. I bought them from a very good breeder who hand raised them. I would get gerbils from her again in the future.

    ETA: Another nice thing about gerbils is that they are diurnal, so they sleep at night and are active during the day. That means they like to hang out and play with you during the day and don't keep you up at night!
     
  3. Xandra

    Xandra Active Member

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    When I had rats they smelled, but then I didn't have them on the best diet (too high protein I think, it was quite a few years ago). They had killer personalities though. From what I've experienced, they are the least rodenty of the rodents if htat makes sense. They DEFINITELY come to you, though some are quite active and aren't really into being cuddled so much (males tend to be chiller)... but neither are some dogs lol. But there is no "catching" involved if you go to a good breeder (poorly bred never socialized feeder bin rats aren't your best bet for a pet). I never had a problem with them biting. I could put one on the chair beside be and he'd curl up and go to sleep... most other rodents are too active and nervous to go to sleep in the middle of a barren chair IME. I would have them now instead of my gerbils but they're too much of a commitment (I would feel bad not exercising, cuddling them etc) and they aren't the healthiest critters (quite prone to cancer and respiratory infections).

    Not my video, but I think it demonstrates how "un-rodenty" they are lol

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdIpstNBX_c

    Fetch:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lHx7dp230w

    Rat Basketball:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drnnulHw5CM

    lol :p
     
  4. Greenmagick

    Greenmagick New Member

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    I dont think rats smell....actually I think they smell less than most pocket pets. Its really all on how you care for them. THey are also often able to be potty trained (or at least mostly) so that helps a lot as well.

    They are very smart, very personable. In the past I had gerbils and hamsters and they IMO had nowhere near the personality that my ratties have. I usually view animals like mice more as a pet and cuddle and watch but not really interact with like a dog or cat...rats interact like dogs and cats.

    Monthly they really arent too expensive....BUT vet bills can be an issue if they get sick
     
  5. Picklepaige

    Picklepaige Active Member

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    People say they're a bit like mini dogs. To what extent is this true? I would say it's true. They definitely love and bond with people, are very trainable, will actually play with you rather than on you like most rodents, and are very affectionate.

    How much do they smell? Like do you walk into the room with the cage and immediately catch a whiff? How does the smell compare to mice? If you clean the cage well once a week and you have a large wire cage, it shouldn't be too noticeable. Male mice smell worse than rats. Female rats have no odor in my experience, while my males smelled like grape soda.

    How expensive are they on a monthly basis? Bedding is about $12, and food is very inexpensive; I go through one bag every couple of months, in addition to fresh fruits, vegetables, and cereal that I give them.

    In what ways are they similar to mice? In what ways are they different? I've never kept mice, but I've been around them, and they aren't all that similar, from what I've seen. Mice seem to be more like hamsters in that, while they can be hand tamed and affectionate, they aren't as social and needy of human attention as rats. You can keep male rats together, while that is a no no with mice. Rats are also less jumpy and not nearly as fragile, as they are quite a bit bigger.

    Do they seem to enjoy being handled and played with if socialized (do they come to the front of the cage or do you need to "catch" them to get them out? If I am in the room, mine are at the front, begging to come out. If they are hanging out with me on the bed and another person walks in, they will go to the edge of the bed and try to get to the new person. They LOVE people. The males are much more affectionate, while the females are more playful. Mine were like this right off the bat; I've never had to "tame" them. My old rat, Brutus, would sleep in my lap while I did school work or watched TV.

    Have you ever trained one to walk on a leash? I personally haven't, but I know people have.

    Would you recommend them? YES! Brutus was the best pet I've ever had, and I've loved all my other rats as well. They are much more interactive than the gerbils I used to keep, as well as the guinea pigs, hamsters, and mice friends and family have had. If you want something that loves to be held, I'd get a male. I love my girlies, but I think I'll go back to males next time.
     
  6. Lyzelle

    Lyzelle New Member

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    Answers in purple. Because I'm feeling purple today.

    I'll come back and post pics in a few.
     
  7. GoingNowhere

    GoingNowhere Active Member

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    Bah I want one! I need to stop looking at youtube videos.
     
  8. Lyzelle

    Lyzelle New Member

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    [​IMG]

    Left to right...Buckwheat, her daughter Daphne, Medea, her sister Phoebe, and Avalon - Buckwheat's sister and Daphne's aunt.

    Trying to find a picture of their set up, but it's easier said than done. :eek: We just took an amoire, cut off the doors and replaced it with mesh. Stuck in shelving and toys. Drawers at the bottom were to keep their stuff on hand.
     
  9. Greenmagick

    Greenmagick New Member

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    More than one:)
     
  10. Picklepaige

    Picklepaige Active Member

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    And pictures, because why not?

    These are my current girls. The black one is Eris and the blue is Bubblegum. This is pretty much the only picture I have of Eris, because she is a spaz. They're both still babies.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Proof that they like lovin's.

    [​IMG]

    And these were my past boys. Brutus, my heart, is in front, and Caesar is in back.

    [​IMG]

    More of Brutus. I loved him more than anything. This is the rat who, though dying, hung on until I got back from vacation to die. He literally fell out of his hammock and dragged himself to me (he was paralyzed in the back end) when he saw me come home, and died in my arms soon after I took him out of the cage. They really do love their people.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
  11. GoingNowhere

    GoingNowhere Active Member

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    haha two then! :D
     
  12. Greenmagick

    Greenmagick New Member

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    :) They should be in groups so two is good
     
  13. Southpaw

    Southpaw orange iguanas.

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    People say they're a bit like mini dogs. To what extent is this true?
    It's true to the extent that they can be pretty trainable and enjoy interacting with you. I had hamsters before I discovered rats, and the hamsters never bonded with me or could actually be played with. They just ate the food I provided them. My rats like to come over and say hi when I open the cage, they like to use me as a jungle gym and chase my hand across the floor. They're just more interactive than most other caged pets.

    How much do they smell? Like do you walk into the room with the cage and immediately catch a whiff? How does the smell compare to mice?
    There's some variables here. Depends on the bedding you use, the kind of cage you have, their diet, their gender... I have 3 boys and I don't really think they smell. I mean yeah, if you walk into my bedroom a couple days after I've cleaned the cage, you can tell I have animals in here. But it doesn't smack you in the face and it's not like a gross urine smell or anything. I like to keep up on keeping their bedding fresh, and scrubbing everything with diluted bleach every few weeks to cut down on odor. My mom doesn't really enjoy the rats and is very vocal when she thinks they stink... but in the 7ish months I've had these guys, I think she's only said to me once "hey, clean the rat cage, I can smell them."

    I know that, when I was in school, our mouse cages were attached to their own ventilation system because they stink. The rats did not need such a fancy set up. :p

    How expensive are they on a monthly basis?
    Not bad. I don't even buy things monthly. I bought a giant bag of aspen bedding from Petco for $11, 3 months ago, and I still have a little less than half the bag remaining. A batch of food is maaaaybe $20-$25ish and lasts a couple months. I do Solid Gold Holistique dog food, and then mix in Cheerios, dried fruit, rolled oats, wild bird seed, other random stuff that I can't think of... but yeah their day to day care is pretty cheap, it's the vet bills that can get expensive.

    In what ways are they similar to mice? In what ways are they different?
    I've never had mice. I just know they are 100% different from hamsters. Because rats are actually friendly, and more fun. And entertaining.

    Do they seem to enjoy being handled and played with if socialized (do they come to the front of the cage or do you need to "catch" them to get them out?
    Oh yes! They love it. Young rats like to play "catch me if you can", even if they're socialized, but most of the adults I've handled have been good with being handled and picked up.

    Have you ever trained one to walk on a leash?
    Haha noo haven't done that.

    My tres amigos
    [​IMG]

    Their cage + playpen setup
    [​IMG]
     
  14. ~Dixie's_Mom~

    ~Dixie's_Mom~ ♥Chloe & Violet♥

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    I want rats so bad. I will have them someday. My dad doesn't want them though, and we can't have small animals in the house with Violet, so unfortunately it will be years before I can have them.
     
  15. PWCorgi

    PWCorgi Priscilla Winifred Corgi

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    Ally, my girls are totally jealous of that playpen setup!! Also, you don't post enough pictures!

    Most everything that I would want to say has been covered.

    I do want to say that I started out using fleece bedding, because it looked better, cleaner, it was recommended etc etc. OMG they smelled terrible. It was BAAAD. I now use 2nd Nature Dog litter pellets, the difference is insane. My girls have two areas where they generally focus all of their dumps on, lol, so I just scoop out that area of the cage with a dust pan twice a week and bam, good to go! Now I never notice the smell and they don't seem to mind the litter at all.

    As far as being social, absolutely. My original trio used me as a jungle gym and any time outside was awesome. The younger ones (siblings to Southpaw's boys) are more skittish, but I think that's mainly just due to me not handling them as much as I should. Peony, one of my babies, I'm pretty sure is blind or at least worse sight than normal rats, so she really gets scared when I try to handle her, but I still can. She's never tried to bite me or anything.

    They're really really cool little animals, and when Ryan and I have a house of our own I will absolutely always have a group of them. Right now I have 4 and I won't get any more after these 4 are gone since we aren't really allowed to have rats in my apartment :/ I've already decided that as soon as the last one passes away I will be donating the cage to a local rat rescue before I can even THINK about bringing more home!
     

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