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 The general Ratty thread :)

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Ook!
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PostSubject: The general Ratty thread :)   Wed Dec 05, 2007 5:14 pm

I was so pleased to have met Sarah and Annie's little ratty girls and was even more pleased to see that there are others here who love the little tykes as well. I thought I'd start a general ratty thread for chat, advice and general discussion.

At the moment we have 8 ratty girls. We've never had boys. Ratty girls tend to be smaller than their male counterparts but from what I have read and seen they are more intelligent, nimble, inquisative, active and better at problem solving. The males are larger, lazier, like lounging around and apparently like to eat and fart a lot! lol! Hmm, a lot like humans then! rofl

For those that don't know much about rattys and are thinking of adopting, I just wanted to put a few comments that hopefully will make life easier for you when rescuing these incrdeible little wonders.

Rattys are very sociable critters and should always be in an environment of two or more.

Because they are so intelligent they love the stimulation of new places to explore or new things to try.

They love food but I have not known any of our girls to ever be purely driven by food - love, exploration and playimng are more important to them.

They LOVE peas and sweetcorn in particular. Also love salad, cereal (our girls are addicted to Special K with milk and sugar), mushrooms, mixed veg, cake, rice, noodles, soup and chocolate milk.

Rattys are supposed to be lactose intolerant but we have found that our girls have alll been quite the opposite and love dairy products such as mouse, milk (with cereal) and cream. Cream has helped the healing process of one of our girls in particular as Baytril (tthe medicine) destroys good bacteria in their stomachs so the cream has helped counteract the side effects of the medicine.

It is recommended that they have an hour 'free roaming' time with their human friends once a day.

When happy a ratty will brux (grind and chatter heir teeth - a sign oif extreme happiness), pip (our nickname for when they start to make noises which sound like hiccups which they do when they are very happy) and boggle (where their eyes literally look like they are vibrating in and out of their eye sockets which is very strange to see for the first time. Boggling is the ultimate in happiness.

Contrary to popular belief, rattys are incredibly clean, spedning a lot of their time grooming themselves or others. As a matter of fact, outdoor roaming on ground where other animals have been should be avoided as rattys have a high probability of catching an illness.

Unfortunately rattys only have short lives living on average approx. two years but have been known to live up to five. They make up for this in sheer passion for life though.

Rattys are very susceptible to illness. Respiratory illness (both lower and upper) is very common but can be managed well with medicines such as Baytril. Females have an incredibly high percentage chance of tumors (often multiple tumors). This is heartbreaking to see and it is often the anaestheitc from multiple ops that can lead to a fatality - the alternative is a long slow painful illness. Having girls spayed within the first few months of their lives reduces the risk of lumps to a mere 3% which is lower than humans. Spaying also increases a girls weight a little and offers better all round health benefits. It also protects against brain tumors which are absolutely terrible, the ratty loses the use of her hands, legs and effects their entire neural system. We also believe it helps prevent stroke and other heart problems as well.

Do not use wood shavings, especially pine, as bedding for rattys. Their respiratory systems are very delicate and the dust from wood shavings will cause illnesses. Pine shavings are even more dangerous as they contain natural chemicals that are potentially lethal to rats. The best bedding for them is cloth such as old clothes or pyjamas (imho) in which should be replaced daily with a handful of dust free cat litter (such as Bio-Catolet) in each corner of the cage).

A cage should not be kept in a draughty position and ideally should be in an area where there is activity (they love to see people come and go and to know they are in company).

Rattys cannot vomit.

A sure sign of illness (maiinly respiratory) is a lack of interest in food, porforen (a liquid discharge that looks like blood but is not so don't worry) coming from the eyes and nose and/or rattling noises from the chest or nose area.

Rattys are very brave. Even when poorly they do not complain.

I have only ever known a ratty to bite if he/she is very ill (deliriously so), very afraid (legs shaking and hair standing on end -'bog brushing') or have been badly mistreated (lots of love will help them).

Rattys say hello by buttung their noses together. If a ratty licks you then you are being groomed! Enjoy it. Smile

Rattys love music.
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Thu Dec 06, 2007 2:30 am

Ook! that is absolutely wonderful information and it heartens me to now realise that our rattys are content and very often happy.

Our rattys are gaining in confidence on a daily basis and now wait (not very patiently, it has to be said) to have thier daily roam - this takes place first thing in the morning, when I arrive at the shop. They do come out at other times during the day but this tends to be more sporadic. However, as soon as Tomi walks in the shop, even before he speaks often, Percy is up on the side of the cage and waits for him to come and say Hi!!!!

Thank you Ook for sharing this with us

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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Thu Dec 06, 2007 11:53 am

Who else thinks Perce would make a lovely purse?! Lol! I do love the furry little gits!! Razz
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Thu Dec 06, 2007 4:36 pm

Smile they seem so perfect in the shop, i mean seems liek they have always been there.
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Sat Dec 08, 2007 4:03 am

BEWARE THIS POST IS GOREY!


One of my Rats, Athena Smile, unfortuneately grew a massive lump on her throat at the same time as my other one, but for some reason i just knew Aspro had cancer and Athena didnt. One day i looked in the cage and Athena lump was all scabby and gross and when i was checking to see if she was ok, it EXPLODED and there was puss and grossness everywhere and she had a gaping hole in her neck and im actually sure you could see like vocal chords! But she didnt even make a sound and just carried on looking about! It was amazing! so we took her to the vets and the vets was like just make sure its not being irratated etetc and within 3 days it was completely healed! Frankly rats are amazing, i mean it was just a huge hole and she didnt seem to care and it just healed up with like no sign! Its amazing what these little critters can do
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Sat Dec 08, 2007 3:05 pm

Anyone seen the film 'Willard'? Now there's a film for rat people-about I guy that has no-one then makes friends with the rats in his basement! Verystrange but cool film, deffinatly worth watching. It even has a bonus feature where he's singing 'Ben' to the rats (the michael jacken song written about a rat)
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Ook!
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Sun Dec 30, 2007 10:41 am

While the girls were on holiday with us we found something new - they love tea with milk and sugar (3 or 4 spoons). We let it cool down and they love it!

We don't drink tea or coffee so have never tried it. Anyway, it's a cuppa a day for them now. They also love mince pies. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Sun Dec 30, 2007 2:28 pm

Are you sure caffiene is a good idea for rats Question Confused
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Ook!
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:07 pm

Conventional ratty advice is often cintradictory - no dairy products, no human chocolate, no spicy food (we do not let our girls have spicy food), no this, no that, etc, etc. We have found that the conventional does not often apply and that the girls themselves will decide if something is not good for them or not. They refuse to eat meat for example which is supposed to be a small part of their diet. They love cream and milk despite the fact they are supposed to be lactose intolerent. We avoided giving them any of the standard things for years but by accident we have found they often love a little of what they shouldn't with no ill effects. To our surprise we have even found certain 'no go foods' have been vital to their welfare and recovery from illness.

We have found their preferred diet is actually very close to humans.

The sad thing is we have learned many new things in the past 2 years that benefit ratties and previous to that, by sticking to the rules, our previous girls never benefited from. Sad
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Sun Dec 30, 2007 5:23 pm

Awwww that's terrible Ray! Well, look on the bright side: you get to pamper your current ladies!!
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Tue Jan 01, 2008 12:07 pm

I wanted to post pictures and intros to our girls here but I hope you do not mind just following the following link to a post Gina has made on her own site. She did all the work already and to be frank, I think it would take me ages to replicate it here so I hope a link is permissable here (please remove this post if it is not acceptable as I do not want to do anything that contradicts forum guidelines).


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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:27 pm

Oh wow, what a wonderful thread! I LOVE rats, I have such a soft spot for them. Very Happy All the good qualities of a dog in a pint sized package!
Ironwolf got me two little boys for Yule, I've named them Brownie and El (as in Elrich the albino, that's what happens when you let your friends name your pets). Just left them with my next door neighbour. they'll be spoilt and well cared for but I miss em already.
El was the runt of the litter and is a little smaller than Brownie. I took him the vet last week due to a little prophryn discharge round his eyes, she examined him and said it was fine and he was in good health. I still watch him like a hawk though. Respiritory illness can kill so very quickly as I've found out in the past. Crying or Very sad
What do you keep your rats on? I changed mine from wood shavings onto a paper bedding which gets changed whenever it smells or every couple of days. What litter exactly do you use in the corners? I don't like wood based ones as most of them are made from pine and I've heard that clay based ones can be dangerous.


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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:30 pm

Ooh, Ook, your rats are so beautiful! Dumbos too!
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Wed Jan 09, 2008 4:51 pm

Thank you for your kind comments, they are gorgeous imo too. If you get the chance, I'd love to see pictures of your boys on the forum sometime. Smile

We have tried all sorts of bedding over the years and have found that our girls are happiest with clean old clothes (particularly fleece based clothes) that they can curl up in or nibble or beat and pull into a shape they like. These are changed daily (they are washed and reused). In the corners of the cage we use a handful of Bio-Catolet which is a dust free paper based cat litter found in Pets at Home or Tescos. Pets at Home do bigger bags so is slightly cheaper. It controls urine odours pretty well, it is dust free so it does not affect their respiratory system and it is comparatively soft compared to other dust free litter which can be very hard. The girls even like to sleep on it sometimes or inside the Bio-Catolet bags on top of the new litter.

We throw away the litter every day and clean the cage base with odour free baby wipes which is very quick and hygenic.

You may have already discovered this but just in case you did not know, ratties LOVE hammocks. If you have a couple of hammocks hanging, it acts like a second level in a cage and they love it. Smile It also helps them sleep where air circulation is better.

I am terribly sorry to hear about your loss through respiritory illness in the past. Sad We have lost several girls to similar illnesses and know how it feels. Ratties are prone to this unfortunately. Sad

They live such short lives so at the very least it is good to know that in their life they are in happy homes, loved, fed well and cared for. Smile Oh, and filled with adventures, fun, games and mischief of course. Wink
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Wed Jan 09, 2008 5:08 pm

I'll post photos as soon as I can take something that's not a blur! They're still in their explorer stage and wont sit still! Brownie is becoming a bit more of a snuggle buddy and comes back every few minutes to give me a sniff and sometimes he will even sit still on a shoulder or hide at the back of my neck behind my hair. I've only had them a few weeks and they're becoming lovely friendly little things although El is still a tad shy. Brownie has a mischeivious streak and will continuously try again and again to do things you stop him from doing.
I've given them a hamock before. Brownie loved to sleep in it, El just slept under it Question then chewed it to bits Rolling Eyes Now I just tie in tea towels. I want to get them an igloo! And one of those weeble things that you can put food treats inside.
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Thu Jan 10, 2008 1:01 pm

I know what you mean about trying to take a photo at that age! Laughing

Your boys sound absolutely wonderful. Smile I hope they love the igloo, we don't have one now but I know our old timer girls loved them when they were still around. They used to use it for storage and to sleep in (or on). We only tried a weeble once but our girls didn't seem that interested but I think they are popular so it might just have been our girls preference. I'm sure your boys will love it!

Maris (one of our Dumbos) is the official food hoarder for the family. She sometimes collects the silver 'cups' that cakes like bakewell tarts come in and she uses them to keep 'stickier' food such as rice in order to keep it seperate from the drier things she keeps. Whata cutie!
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Sat Jan 12, 2008 5:54 am

Mostly I've only ever kept males. My first rat was an ex lab rat that was rescued when they brought in the law against animal testing for non medical. She came from the labs at a rat poison factory. Although she was never actually tested on she never took to people. She did stop biting eventually but was never very hand tame and didn't like to spend time outside the cage with people. She prefered to try to escape under the couch. Now I know that people say the personalities of male and female rats differ in that females like to explore and males like to snuggle a bit more. I know that all the males I've had in the past liked to sit still on my shoulder or lap or so on. She's the only experience of a female rat I've had and I'm just wondering do you think her behaviour was down to her being a female and wanting to explore or do you think she was a bit damaged by her first few months of life? Crying or Very sad
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Sat Jan 12, 2008 9:21 am

That is so sad. Sad My stomach turned when I read where you rescued the little girl from. Thank you for doing that. I feel like crying just from the thought of it.

Ratties that bite are not common in our experience. From what we have experienced they tend to bite when they are very scared, very ill and delirious and are scared of what they perceive to be a possible threat that they don't understand) or if they have mental issues (probably from mistreatment). This is probably not an exhaustative list but I think it covers a fair amount. A ratty bite is very painful and meant to deter you from further 'attacking' the little one. Still, it is still very rare indeed as even a scared ratty will try to run away rather than bite if it can, and they are very determined at running away if they feel threatened.

'Nipping' is normal and actually playful. This is where they use their teeth to just lightly grab your finger and if anyone watches ratties play they do this to each other, particularly as children. It does not hurt unless the baby is not well practiced at it but usually learns very quickly and is a sign of affection because they are playing with you. Oh, sometimes theythink there might be something on your finger worth licking or eating so nipping is another thing a baby will do if she thinks there is a chance of something worth eating. This does not hurt either by the way so there is a distinct difference between a biter and a normal ratty.

Female ratties are apparently more inquisitive than males (we have only ever had females) but they do still like to shoulder ride or sit on your lap or sleep near you. This does not tend to be for long though as there is always something else to explore or they just like to get back to their home which in our case is the study. In the main, they are 'home bods' and would prefer to be in their own area of familiarity than be out of it for extended periods of time. Not all of them feel the same, some are born explorers and see the entire flat as their home. Our Alpha ratty (Mincie) knows she is welcome to free roam anywhere she wants but even if we left the study door open all day and night she will only venture out of the room to see us and say hello then go back again. What a sweetie. She is 68 years old in ratty years (2 and five months in our timeline) and can still outrun (on a short stretch) and outjump all but the youngest girl.

Anyhow, I hope this answers your question about females and biting from our experiences. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Sat Jan 12, 2008 12:24 pm

She did bite, she often drew blood and I do think it was her early days that caused that. Oh well, I know she got a better life than she would have done. For sure. The boys nip but not hard. Just gently almost like a handshake. It only ever hurt once and that was when I put my hand in the cage without washing it first after handling chicken so was entirely my own fault!

Here's a link to a very good rat medical website. Beware, it is very in depth so includes photographs of the diseases and ailments.

http://ratguide.com/

Are your rat's free range or do they have a play pen? At the monent mine are free range with supervision. They are blocked off from the tv and computer and from climbing on my desk which is a very dangerous place for them at the momnet. I'd like to make a play pen so that they can have free range time under supervision but also a bit more time outside in a safe place where I don't have to watch them every single second. I'm thinking of a 6ft by 4 ft playpen with roof, either made of a wooden frame lined with fine chicken wire or perhaps a guinea pig outdoor pen.
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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Mon Dec 29, 2008 12:29 pm

Well, it's been ages since I posted on this thread. I just thought I'd post an x-ray of Cookie who was taken to a specialist in Bristol who confirmed she had pneumonia.

Cookie was 300 grams in weight when this x-ray was taken. She was 440 grams in weight just 2 weeks before and was wasting away. Following a change in medication and being hand fed several times a day on baby food, she is now maintaining her weight at around 390-400 grams which is good.

She sat perfectly still for the x-rays which is fortunate as we refused to have her anaestasized as she would most likely have died


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PostSubject: Re: The general Ratty thread :)   Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:11 am

Awwwww - that is amazing and she was so good, staying still while she was "photographed".

So pleased to hear that Cookie is doing so well.

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