More Rat Questions

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New Member
Oct 9, 2019
Reasearching rats!!
Hi! I have a few questions about male rats. (I'm getting 2)

1: Would a double ferret nation work? Do I need to mesh-over the bars? If so how do I go about doing that?

2: I've heard putting a rock in their litter box helps. Is this a good idea and how does it help?

3: Would a large bin cage work as a carrier for on the way home?

4: I've heard that Oxbow pellets and veggies daily, with fruits, seeds, and other treats a 2-3 times a week is a good diet. Is that true?
And I've heard 15-30 grams per rat of pellets. Is this a good amount?

5: Do I need to be feeding them something else when they're younger?
If so what do you recommend? (I'm in the US)

6: What do you want new rat owners to know?

Thank you so much!


Oct 10, 2019
Ottawa, Canada
Lemme see how I can help out here...

1. I use a double ferret nation for my mischief. As long as the bars are no more than 1" apart, they can't escape. You should have the plastic shelf covers that came with the cage (or can find replacements on Amazon), as you definitely don't want anyone walking over bare bars. That's brumblefoot waiting to happen.

2. A well-washed river rock in the litterbox does allegedly help, as it feels like a more natural place for them to defecate. That said, it never made a difference for mine. I had a pair who just refused to litter train, and a trio who near exclusively use the litter box with no encouragement whatsoever.

The ideal litter, to use only in the litter box area, would be paper-based cat litters (such as Yesterday's News).

3. Again, as long as it is temporary (just for coming home), breathable, and does not have an escape route larger than 1" - you'll be okay! I risked transporting 3 via cardboard boxes/carriers twice, and do not recommend, but it is still possible (these were only max. 15 min drives, of course).

4. Oxbow pellets/blocks are some of the best. Ranked second only to Harlan Teklad. Always, always, always make sure the food is intended for rat consumption. Hamster food and mixes aren't the ideal, since they tend to pick and choose their favourites from mixes and miss out on essential nutrients.

Veggies are great supplements, once or twice a day. My newest additions (6-week-old females) go absolutely wild for kale.

5. Oxbow offers a young rat option, but it's not so much a need. Once weaned and old enough to bring home, adult rat food is appropriate. I did go the young rat to adult rat food conversion route once. I'm in Canada, and as far as I know both Oxbow and Harlan Teklad are available State-side as well.

6. Ah so many things! It's a lot of fun to learn on your own, but here are some tidbits:

- The red around their eyes/noses you occasionally see is mucus, not blood. Even if it looks like blood. This can be the result of stress or illness, so just keep an eye on them when you notice it - or if you notice an exceptional amount of it.

- Pick them up and hold them like a phone to your ear to check for any respiratory concerns. Rat phone. This is pretty good to do regularly, even if they look totally healthy.

- If there's no blood, let the rats box/tussle out their dispute. It's better to let them come to a resolution than have the conflict ongoing and lead to bloodshed later. If you are worried, you can divide a double ferret nation and give them quiet time alone for a little while. If you notice scuffles break out over specific things (such as a certain type of food being added, like a bit of chicken as a treat or something), then try giving them those kinds of treats separately (one can have theirs in the cage while the other gets theirs while hanging out on your shoulder, etc.).

- Best to keep 'em in groups of 2 or more. They're just generally happier and more social/interactive with their human companions this way as well.

- Groups of rats are called a mischief for a reason. Make sure if they're free-roaming you have them in a rat-proofed place, and know where everyone is to avoid accidents and injuries (my 3-year-old blind girl likes to try making 3ft+ jumps from my shoulder to other pieces of furniture - not ideal, obviously, so her free-roam time is in 100% cushioned areas close to the ground).

- Handling them daily is the best way to keep them socialized, gentle, and their happiest. Basically every morning my rats get a hello and some pets while in their cage, and then once I'm home from work, they spend the rest of the evening outside the cage hanging out with me (which ranges from 3 hours up to 5 or 6 hours a day). While they do require you to be attentive, once they've cuddled up for a nap, it's very easy to play a video game, watch some TV, or go about your cleaning regiment with a rat draped over the back of your neck. That counts as socializing!
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