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NotKate

New Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2020
Messages
4
Location
Portland OR
I just adopted/rescued two four-week old baby boys last week from a feeder breeder. So they're about 5 1/2 weeks old now. Pickle is brown, Radar is white with pink eyes, and both are dumbos. Frickin cute. I've kept rats before and I don't remember feeling this overwhelmed. I have lots of questions, worries and frustrations.

Two days after they came home with me they got the sneezes, I took them to a vet, they're on antibiotics for a respiratory infection and looking a lot better. I took out the paper bedding which looked pretty dusty (I felt terrible for not noticing earlier), and have brown paper down for now until some fleece arrives and I can make some liners.

While Pickle has grown a TON in the week and a half I've had them, Radar has only grown a little. He got the worst of the respiratory infection, and I can feel his ribs easily and his fur looks scruffy. Should I be able to see his skin through his fur? Pickle is very plush by comparison, and also the more dominant rat. He doesn't seem like a total bully, but I'm worried about tiny Radar. I boiled them an egg and have been giving them that and some baby food on top of their normal rat blocks. Their poops were getting soft so I backed off a little, but I'm worried about Radar's weight.

Speaking of poops, I am attempting to litter train them, which would be especially helpful while I'm in between proper bedding. Pickle's favorite spot is the very top corner of the cage, showering waste on the world below. I put a box in that spot and he shoved it out if the way. I know they are young and it will take time, but I am so frustrated with cleaning up after them multiple times a day.

On top of that, they seemed very tame when I first got them, sniffing my hand and even cuddling a bit. Now they seem more frightened. They'll still sniff and take treats but really don't seem to want to be held. Pickle backs into his potty-tower-corner and will not move for anything. I have been guilty of losing my patience and pushing him out of the way to put in the litter box. I don't want to traumatize them but I also need to clean their cage, take them to the vet, etc. I'm also a little hurt, but trying not to take it personally. Sadly I can't watch tv with them or have them around the house with me, because my housemates have cats.

In short, I love my tiny babies but could really use some guidance from more experienced rat people! It's starting to feel like they take up ALL my time (I know they take a lot but I need to have a life) What should I be doing? Am I doing anything right at all?
 

Big Schpog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
245
Location
British Columbia
Gorilla tape, so he can't move the box.

In order to have properly socialized rats, they need LOTS of time, esp play time on the bed with their human family. Trust me on this. The more time you spend, the more enjoyable they'll be.

If all of it seems like a chore then you might consider giving them a new home.

It's normal to have sneezes on the first trip home and it's good they've all been treated for URI. (upper respiratory infection)

As far as Radar, I hope you share some photos of all angles so we can see him. It will help us better judge.

Young rats usually won't sit still. That's normal. Try shoulder rides and allow them to climb on your body while you walk with them to new places. Rats LOVE to explore new places with their human Momma. Play time on the bed so they can approach you and understand that you're the one that's letting them out to explore and that you want to play with them. Trust takes a long time and it's not always on your terms. I have 3 rats, spoiled rotten, two young teenage rats that won't sit still but love shoulder rides and love running up to their Momma on the bed, getting a pet or two, and then bounding away in joy. Trust and love takes lots of understanding, esp from the human Momma. Rats still love you even if they squirm in your hands or they run away from your hand. You must let them know that you are a FAMILY and families do everything together.

Are you eating a snack late at night? Invite them out to share it on the bed.

Don't worry about putting the litter tray and having to move Mr. Pickle. LIke I said, Gorrila tape on the bottom of the box and make sure it won't move.

Sounds like you need cage litter guards to keep them from throwing mess. You can make them with some cardboard and gorilla tape pretty easily.

IF you're already frustrated cleaning up after them, you either need to make guards so they don't throw stuff out of the cage or rehome them. Rats chew stuff and they steal and they are little opportunists. Some people find their antics beautiful and they rat proof to make it more enjoyable and some people just can't deal with it.

PUt a TV in your room.

Radar sounds like a typical feeder rat, from a situation that wasn't ideal. He'll probably need some extra care. Feed them lots of good things. Share your dinners with them. Find what human foods, healthy foods, that Radar likes and make sure you give him these things plus lots of attention. Do this for both of them but yes, make sure Radar is getting his fair share of good stuff.
 

NotKate

New Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2020
Messages
4
Location
Portland OR
Thanks for your advice. I love the little beans and really want to give this a go. I was distressed when they got sick so soon after coming home with me, and I think my feelings snowballed a bit. Unconsciously I think I wanted a perfect Instagram rat life, where everyone is snuggly and tidy, which obviously isn't realistic, or most important. Picking up poos and putting up some protection for my wall is not a big deal.

We've had some really nice snuggle and play times in the past day, which have been heartening. Taking off my kid gloves has helped.

I've attached some of the better pictures I was able to get of Radar...
 

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Big Schpog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
245
Location
British Columbia
Instagram rats are snapshots of a quarter of a second. They are unrealistic and it's good you realize that. It's super hard getting good photos of rats. Trust me, I've got a beautiful smartphone camera that I spent an amazing amount of money on and I can't get good shots of my girls. Having rats is about the family feeling you get with them. They will share everything with you.

Rats are like little humans. They have the same range of emotions and they are best when they're totally integrated into your life.

Here's some stuff I do with my rats to inspire you:

Bedtime snacks, all rats are invited to be out and share my rice krispies and milk or whatever it is I'm having. Yes, I let them put their faces in the bowl or I use my spoon to get some for them. I share desserts with them at night too.

Rats like to come out in the night after they've lazied around and slept all day. My rats are out with me in the evenings when I watch some good ole 70's reruns like The Waltons. They run around my bed and get the zoomies where they'll come right up to me, I'll pet them a couple times and then they'll either sit down on my leg or go zooming around, especially the teenage rats I just adopted. My Simone gets zoomies really bad. LOL

In the day, they sleep. Each rat has their own sleep schedule, just like humans. When they wake they come and find me to tell me they're awake. My oldest rat wakes up, has a little snack around 2pm or so and then I take her for a walk in my backpack. You will learn the schedules of your rats.

The teenager rats sleep through the walks but come alive at around 8-9pm.

If I'm doing chores and my rats are awake, I put them on my shoulder and let them 'help.' We take out the trash together. I handwash clothes with them sometimes and I always like to take them to new places while they're on my shoulder. Yes, they sometimes don't want it and will squirm. I'll just put them back where they were if they don't want it, but they usually want to see new places and new smells. You could do this in your house. Take them on your shoulder to the bathroom, to the other areas of the house.

My rats have total free roam as I live in a small room, (just like you eh?) and they will come up to my leg and request things. Sometimes they want to be picked up. Sometimes not.

The most important thing is to have fun with them and spend as much time as you can with them. They'll love it and so will you.

There are a lot of good people on here that will help answer questions.

Radar looks very young and like a typical feeder rat. He needs bulking up, protein and fats. Lots of good human treats for him and his mate. You'll see an amazing transformation.

Don't be afraid. They WANT to be with humans. They want that bond. Pick them up when they're awake. Talk to them. Involve them.
 

NotKate

New Member
Joined
Sep 5, 2020
Messages
4
Location
Portland OR
I just want to say thanks again for your advice and share some updates! I'm feeling a lot more confident about everything, and I can tell my rats are too.
I've placed their cage right at the foot of my bed so it's easy to spend time together. They've gone from nervous and skeptical to running all over the place, and we're learning a few tricks. Pickle is a talented manicurist and explorer who dreams of leading the free world, and Radar seems happy to follow along and run the campaign from my hood.
They use the litter box some of the time, and a large cardboard wall is catching what falls and saving my sanity.
They're on a second round of antibiotics and Radar's sneeze has finally gone away. He's filled out a lot and his coat has grown in. He's smaller in stature than his chunky brother but I'm no longer worried. The tip of his nose turned dark, which is adorable.
Currently I'm working on arranging a playpen that is not under my bed, although they love it so much...
 

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Big Schpog

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jul 8, 2020
Messages
245
Location
British Columbia
Look at them! I'm so happy for you! Placing the cage where you did is PERFECT. They will hear you all night too and that's important. Sounds like you have trust from both of them. It's a great life isn't it?
 

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