Keeping Rats - Good reading resource?

Soldato
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As per title really guys, I've toyed with the idea of keeping rats for years and I'm starting to think of it in a more serious light now. I like to take care of animals though, so I don't want to make a decision without researching properly first, so I was hoping you guys could help supply

a) A good site(s) for reading about keeping rats in general - e.g. care, needs, advice, etc.

b) A good site(s) for the purchase of equipment, food, all the necessities.

Thanks in advance for any replies!
 
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They seem to breed quite well on left over McDonalds hamburgers,
if you have some clay pipe half filled with faeces, then again they are pretty sorted.

The problem would appear to be stopping them from over running the place?
 
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Soldato
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Simply leave waste food in your garden and hack holes into the sewer pipes

soon you will have a few pet rats, FOR FREE!
 
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Sensible reply ahoy...

I've kept fancy rats for about 10 years now, and to be honest the best place to start is a forum like this -> http://www.fancy-rats.co.uk/home/

Couple of pointers - Rats have very bad respiratory systems so you must NOT keep them on sawdust (or even buy them from a place that's kept them on sawdust) - keep them on paper based bedding such as carefresh.

They are very social animals so you need to keep more than 1 in the cage and have them out for at least an hour a day - you will find they bond very easily to you and will seek your affection.

And a final point try not to get them from places like Pets at Home or another high street pet shop - there are plenty of them in rescue centres and proper breeders that need homes.
 
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:D
Ok I'll try a sensible answer; I know I know, not very GD like!

I don't know any sites but I've had several sets of rats over the years and they are awesome and intelligent pets, a few hints:

Get at least two - they are very sociable animals so could do with a partner when you're not around. Make sure you get same sex animals obviously or you will have lots of little rats very quickly!
They need a fairly large cage as they can be quite active (well the females can be, the males tend to sit and eat!)
They are very clean animals so you only need to clean their cage about once a week.
Try and create an area where they can run about outside of the cage to give them somewhere new to explore, my rats always loved watching tv with me on the sofa. Be aware though that rats have a tendency to chew through electrical wiring, make sure they can't get at any.
Check with your local vets about the best bedding for them as some rats can develop a foot condition with sawdust and hay. They also like to tear up paper and set up their own bedding - cheap paper towels go down a storm.

I've had males and females and on average I think the females are more sociable, but be sure to start handling them as early as possible to get them used to you.
After a while you can wonder around the house with them sitting on your shoulder, and there is nothing funnier than seeing the reaction of a Jehovas witness when you answer the door with a big black rat staring from your shoulder :D
Rats will eat pretty much anything but like humans will get fat if you allow them, most pet shops have particular 'rat' mixes.

I hope you enjoy them :)

Edit: This page appears to have some great initial info - http://www.quite.co.uk/rats/
 
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Go ahead and get the rats, will be the best move you ahve ever made.

Can only echo the advice that has already been posted on here. Get 2 rats so they can keep each other company while you are not there. A two level cage with plenty for them to climb and nest in is the best. Carefresh was what we used for the bedding as does not have any odour and is easy to replace.

you will find they pick a certain corner of the cage for their doings. That will need cleaning everyday and you will need to replace the food and water each day too.

When it comes to eating, they are rats and wil eat anyting that they can get in their mouths. There are special rat varieties of food for them. Dont give them (or let them get near) to anything fizzy as a rat cant burp...so will be proper gassed up (they also cant vomit too, so be careful what they are eating).

If you usually leaev old newspapers lying around on the floor, epect these to move on their own and be randomly stripped. Rats love to nest and wil make their own nests out of almost anything. We had a slung hammock that was a good favourite or then an octopus with the legs cut off inside the cage. That ended up full of newspaper, with blocked doors.

Haev only had girl rats, so cant comment on the boys, but from all accounts, the ladies are far more active and will explore more. They are bloody good climbers too, so expect to find them on shelves or elsewhere if left to run.

they are the most socailble and funny pet i have ever had. in fact, would say they are more than pets.

A word of warning, they only have short life spans (2 years norm, 3 at best). they girls are also very prone to gettig mammary tumours, not all of which are malignant, but they can grow to a very large size and restrict the rats movement.

Finally (after a great wall of text) a few pics of the girls





 
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Beautiful rats Shelster, makes me want to get more!!

Thanks...unfortunately they are both no longer with us, but wil be getting another pair when i get back to the UK soon.

Me and Mrs S were thinking of getting 2 boys this time round, but will hav eto see what rats pick us when we go looking
 
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While we're on the subject of rats, is it true that rats cannot physically vomit which is why they can get away with eating almost anything?

It is indeed true and it's why they have such amazing immune systems - rat poison has to be seriously strong stuff for exactly this reason.
 
Soldato
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Many thanks for all the helpful replies, I've bookmarked the sites and will read them in due course - once I've decided if I can take them on or not, the next stage is to craft a finely worded letter to my landlord!

One question that I haven't seen answered yet, is it considered cruel to leave a pair of rats alone for a weekend in a cage? If I'm thinking Friday morning to Sunday evening, that would fall acceptably in the "daily or alternate days" spot cleaning rule, but would they miss the company and being handled?
 
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As long as there's at least a pair of them they should be fine for a couple of days as long as there's enough food and water.
Whenever we went on holiday a neighbour would come and top up their food and water for us but wasn't a particularly big fan of rats so didn't get them out of the cage. They were absolutely fine when we came back and were always delighted to see us. :)
 
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i wouldnt leave them alone that long in the first few months. They will need to get used to you and trust you, so the handling part will be needed.

May be worth getting a friend in to help out when you go away
 
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