Questions about raising wild baby rats

Discussion in 'Health & General Care' started by mustangrooster, Jun 11, 2018.

Help Support Rat Shack Forum by donating using the link above.
  1. Jun 11, 2018 #1

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Australia
    Hi all, apologizes if I have posted this in the wrong section.


    So, two days ago, I found a nest of wild baby rats. I'm sure there were six, but I think one of the dog's got two of them, so I managed to save 4. One of the parents got eaten by a snake, not sure if either the cat or one of the dogs got another one of the parents…or if it just fled.


    I think they are roof rats, and they are 2 weeks old. They are pretty dang cute, and their ears are starting to pop up and they have teeth, so I'm guessing they are nearing 3 weeks old. Yes, I am aware that there is a slight possibility that they could be carrying diseases, however I have been wearing gloves when handling them and I wash my hands thoroughly after.


    They have been feeding well, I've just been using a small paintbrush and they suckle the soy milk off it. They have been getting fed every 4 hours and spend most of their time sleeping during the day, I notice they are a lot more active at night.


    However, I do have some questions, and a problem has just occurred.


    Upon feeding the last little rat this morning, he decided to jump out of my hands, run across the floor, and disappear somewhere in the house. I'm not really sure where he went, the little things got legs! I feel horrible, but he jumped out so quickly that by the time I jumped to my feet he was already half way across the other side of the room. I'm so worried though, because he's so little, I know he will die if I can’t get him. If none of the animals get to him during the day, its freezing at night so without his siblings he will freeze to death. Any suggestions on how I can get him? It seems impossible to get him though, because he was wild 2 days ago..I don’t see any reason why he would want to come to me. I still want to try to find him, but he could be anywhere by now :(.


    Here are some questions, I would really appreciate it if you guys could help me.


    -When I stimulate them, they don’t really seem to go toilet. I have noticed that after I feed them they will sit in my hands and clean themselves, is it possible they are releasing...everything by themselves? I'm concerned because I know that if they don’t, they could die.


    -When could I start introducing them to water?


    -How can I get them interested in eating solids? I know they are old enough to begin eating a little bit of solids, but they have no interest in the oatmeal I have offered them. What’s the best solid to use when introducing baby rats to food?


    -I am hoping to raise them and keep them as pets, because since I have to feed them every 4 hours they are being handled a lot; so, they are getting used to humans. However, if they grow up to be more wild/feral than tame, it would probably be the best thing for them to release them. I have raised a new born rat before…. A few years ago, but it died when it was 2 weeks old because it got too cold. It had bonded to me because there was only one and it completely depended on me. But now that there are 4 (maybe 3....) rats and they are already 2 weeks old, they have each other to socialise/bond with and keep each other company...they probably just see me as the food source? Dunno. I don’t except them to be as tame as a domesticated rat, but I would love for them to be semi-tame when they are older, so that I can at least take them out of their cage without them running away or biting me, how can I do that? By just handling them everyday and building trust?


    -When they get older, where could I take them to check if they have diseases? Or, the longer they spend in domestication (In a clean healthy environment, with healthy foods) will the risk of them having diseases become slimmer, or not? Sounds silly, but I’m curious.


    -When they get older, do they need to be wormed, and checked for parasites? Sorry, I have never owned rats apart from that new born years ago, so I’m sort of going off what I find on the internet.



    That’s all for now..but I would love to hear any feedback/advice. Thank you! :)
     
  2. Jun 11, 2018 #2

    Sheldon

    Sheldon

    Sheldon

    Rataholic

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2013
    Messages:
    2,098
    Likes Received:
    644
    Location:
    North Texas
    On finding him, I would just say to be very careful when you are looking for him if you are moving furniture or boxes. You don’t want to accidentally squish him.

    Also, would love pictures.
     
    mustangrooster likes this.
  3. Jun 11, 2018 #3

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Australia
    Thanks for the tips. Sadly I dont think I'm going to find that little guy again :( Its nearly nightfall and there has been so sign of him, it will be a miracle if he makes it through the freezing temperatures we get here at night, when he is alone.

    Alright! Here's some current pictures of the lil cuties (Could call them the Three Musketeers...):
    DSC00251.JPG DSC00253.JPG DSC00254.JPG DSC00255.JPG DSC00259.JPG DSC00260.JPG DSC00261.JPG DSC00233.JPG

    They are really small, so now that they all have these little round ears, its adorable.
     
  4. Jun 11, 2018 #4

    Sheldon

    Sheldon

    Sheldon

    Rataholic

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2013
    Messages:
    2,098
    Likes Received:
    644
    Location:
    North Texas
    Aww they are super cute! They definitely have a little bit of a different look about them though, don’t they?
     
    mustangrooster likes this.
  5. Jun 11, 2018 #5

    SQ

    SQ

    SQ

    Senior Member - Vegan for the animals

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    16,855
    Likes Received:
    703
    Location:
    central New Brunswick Canada
    I hope he made it through the night
    Put down a box with a hole in it, or a cage ........ containing a hiding place with warm used bedding that smells like his family, a dish of food that can not be carried away such as organic soy infant formula thickened with a bit of baby cereal and possibly a small dish of water that can not be upset. ......... put it near where he disappeared, and sprinkle flour on the floor so if he comes and leaves again you will know what direction he headed off in. The idea is that he will eat/drink and then snuggle down to sleep in a warm safe place that smells comforting, so you will be able to find him

    Please let us know what happens
     
    mustangrooster likes this.
  6. Jun 11, 2018 #6

    SQ

    SQ

    SQ

    Senior Member - Vegan for the animals

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    16,855
    Likes Received:
    703
    Location:
    central New Brunswick Canada
    Such sweet babies ... how did you know that we love pics LOL

    As for your questions, hopefully i can help with them ...

    1. hopefully you are feeding organic soy infant formula, not soy milk because they need baby formula (or KMR from a vet, or squirrel milk replacer fed to orphaned infant squirrels)

    2. If their eyes are open, they may be eliminating themselves as you suspected, but personally I would continue to stimulate them until 3 weeks old

    3. When they are old enough, they will start to try different foods. One site I linked below suggests offering solids at 3 weeks. You will also want to offer a shallow dish of clean water (that they can easily climb out of) when they are 3 weeks old. Wild babies develop slower then pet rats. When I have rescued rats with young babies, I would put out a shallow dish of organic soy infant formula thickened with a bit of baby cereal (the kind that says add milk). The babies would try this - and get covered in it. They would also start to nibble on the rat blocks that their mom ate, and as they got older they would also nibble on the daily vegs (such as cooked sweet potato, cooked squash) and cooked whole grains their mama ate (other first food suggestions in one of the links below). Some people will also put out a small amount of baby food in a shallow dish for them to try. Because rats can not vomit, they will just nibble a tiny amount and if it doesn't make them ill then they may try a bit more the next time. But they will need you to keep "nursing" them for several more weeks.

    4. You will have to keep them as pets in a huge cage so it is great that you are handling them so much - they need that. They can never be released because they do not have a large wild family and they do not have a mama to teach them all the things they would need to know about how to survive. If released, they will die, terrified, and alone.

    5. Handling the babies a great deal every day, as you are doing, will help them to adjust to captivity and bond with you. Several members of this forum have raised half wild rats (pet mom rat became pregnant by a wild male rat) and can likely give you a lot of suggestions.

    Jorats and Lilspaz68 have experience with half wild Norway rats (mama domestic pet rescued pregnant from outdoors, daddy wild Norway rat). You may want to message them or search for threads they wrote about their wild babies
    Here is a thread about one orphaned wild baby rat https://www.ratshackforum.com/threads/rhydian-wild-baby-rat-growing-up-new-update-8-20-13.23622/

    Some info to supplement what you already know http://www.afrma.org/orphanrm.htm and http://www.rmca.org/Articles/orphans.htm

    5. It is highly unlikely that they have any diseases.
    Hopefully you will find a good vet experienced and knowledgeable in treating rats that will be your vet because rats get ill and need vet care and meds. Check with lilspaz68 regarding medical questions.

    6. When they are older, you will need to separate them by sex and may need to consider having one sex fixed so they can live together - but you will need to have a vet able to do that safely and do a lot of research. female rats are prone to mammary tumours but neutering boys is less invasive.

    I hope this helps
     
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2018
    mustangrooster likes this.
  7. Jun 12, 2018 #7

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Australia
    Yeah they are pretty dang cute :D And yes, they do have a bit of different look about them, I'm curious as to what they are, at first I thought they might be roof rats but now I'm not too sure.

    Sadly, there was no sign of him, it was freezing last night, so it would be a miracle if he is still alive. That sounds like a great idea, do you think it would still be worth a shot? There is a chance that he might have found a warm spot last night, however slim, I might still give this a shot.



    More pictures will be coming ;)

    1. Well...we couldn’t get soy infant formula as we live rural and a trip into town is a long way, we only go into town 1/2 times a week, so soy milk was all I had that they could drink. I did a bit of research on it and I found some people who gave soy milk to rat babies, so I hope that’s enough for them? (Until later this week when we go into town and I can get the soy formula)



    2. I have been inspecting where they have been sleeping and I have seen that their blankets are stained yellow in some places, so I think they are eliminating by themselves, which is great. They get really stressed out when I try to stimulate them, but I will try to keep doing it until they are 3 weeks old, which I think they are nearly that old anyway.

    3. Alright, I will try that, thanks for all that information! Would it be okay to offer a bit of weetbixs with their milk? I would let the weetbixs soak in the milk until they become mushy, would that be like giving them baby cereal? I’m pretty sure it would be the same consistency.

    Thank you for linking those sites, and I will probably message them too, I really just need to learn as much as I can to help these babies as much as possible.

    I will also look around to try and find a vet that is knowledgeable in rats, there are only a couple of vets around here so hopefully I can find an experienced one for them.



    I'm also not sure what they are, male or female. I know for sure that the one that escaped was a male, but with these three its a bit harder to tell. At first I thought it was one male and two females, but now I think they are all females...I'm just confusing myself :confused:


    Also, I have one more question...sorry to be a nuisance.


    Last night they were all running around and playing, which was great to see. What was also great to see was that they all were drinking out of a little dish that I had filled with milk. They kept going coming up, drinking, and then playing, and in the morning, it was empty. I have refilled it when I was going to feed them this morning, however there's a little problem. When I feed them, I have to grab them. It’s not a very positive experience for them...having a hand chasing them and then picking them up, especially when they run away from the hand that is chasing them. This morning, none of them would put up with being fed milk. They squirmed, wouldn't stop moving, and tried to escape whenever possible, they didn’t want the milk, I didn't want to create a negative experience, and since I saw them drinking out of the dish, I put them back into their cage. They are fine drinking the milk out of the dish, but I don’t know how often they are drinking it and how much each rat is getting, I know that they need milk four times a day at their age, but they are making it nearly impossible for me to feed them now. If they could feed themselves by drinking out of the dish, and I whenever I'm around them I can just work on them getting to trust/bond with me (something that can’t really be done when they want nothing to do with me, because of the feeding issue) that would be great. What’s the best thing to do? Do I just need to force them to drink? Or…what? I cant see how they are going to get up to drink the milk in the dish during the day because they sleep all day.

    Thank you for all the help! :)
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  8. Jun 12, 2018 #8

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Australia
    Well..its like they have all suddenly decided I'm going to eat them. Tried to feed them again, two of them wouldn't have a bar of it. I only managed to get a couple of drops into two of them, but one was good and had a decent amount. If they continue to do this, I worry that they aren't going to be getting enough fluids. I hope they aren't going to grow to be feral, they are very skittish and jumpy, and want nothing to do with me. Does anyone have any suggestions? I was reading somewhere that they can be weaned at 3-4 weeks old, I think they are nearly 3 weeks old, would it be best to wean them or?
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
  9. Jun 12, 2018 #9

    SQ

    SQ

    SQ

    Senior Member - Vegan for the animals

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    16,855
    Likes Received:
    703
    Location:
    central New Brunswick Canada
    Assume the baby is still alive and put down something for him ... do it for at least a week or so just in case, because you never know. Hopefully he will find it and snuggle in to stay warm for the night.

    If they are drinking out of a shallow dish and do not want to be hand fed, I would just keep an eye on them to make sure they are all drinking and make sure that you give them a clean dish of milk several times a day. I hope that you are soon able to buy a can of powdered organic soy formula (you mix it up as needed so it lasts longer), and several packages of baby cereal to add to the formula. You can try offering them small amounts of food (food with added sugar, added salt or added fat are unhealthy).
    I also hope that you can buy them rat blocks/pellets .... Here in North America the two best are Oxbow and Harlan Teklad 2014. Hopefully other rat owners will be able to suggest which type of rat food available in your country is best.

    As for weaning them, they will slowly wean themselves but it seems like they are ready to take milk/formula out of a shallow dish
     
    mustangrooster likes this.
  10. Jun 12, 2018 #10

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Australia
    Thank you for this information. And yes, I will do that for the baby, I hope he is still alive somewhere.


    They don’t really come out in the day, so as long as they are drinking milk at night, will that be enough to keep them hydrated? Yes, I will get the formula and baby cereal asap. We are in Australia, I'm not sure that I have seen that stuff around here, but I will have a look next time a town trip is made.


    Sorry for all of these questions, rats are just new to me. I'm used to raising things like wallabies, piglets, wild orphan birds or chicks...not rats, but, I am really starting to like them!
     
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2018
    SQ likes this.
  11. Jun 12, 2018 #11

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Australia
    Eek, another one has escaped :confused: I was trying to feed her and she jumped out of my hands, onto my hair, and disappeared before I even knew what happened! I have no idea where she is. I had a rough idea of where the other one went...but not with this one. They are so jumpy, I think I'm just going to stop hand feeding them milk, I don’t want to lose another one. I guess two are easier to look after than four… but I still really want to find the other two. I have set up two boxes with food/milk and a blanket that has the others scent on it, one in the area where the second one escaped, and one where I roughly think the first one went. I really hope I find them.
     
  12. Jun 12, 2018 #12

    SQ

    SQ

    SQ

    Senior Member - Vegan for the animals

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    16,855
    Likes Received:
    703
    Location:
    central New Brunswick Canada
    I hope that you are able to find them too .... poor babies :(
    It sounds like leaving out milk for them in a dish would be best for now and perhaps also offering other healthy foods for them to try
     
    mustangrooster likes this.
  13. Jun 13, 2018 #13

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Australia
    No sign of either of them :( A dish I put in one of the boxes had no milk in it this morning, so something drank it. There wasn't any rat babies in the boxes though, and I couldn't see any footprints in the flour.


    The other babies are doing well, had some oatmeal last night and nibbled at the apple sauce I put in there for them. (Just a little bit of applesauce, as it was the only thing I had closest to baby food). They also drank all the milk in one of the dishes, pretty sure they also had a little bit of water. Will be able to get the baby cereal and formula later this afternoon.


    My biggest worry is them becoming dehydrated since I am no longer feeding them during the day, what’s the chances of them becoming dehydrated? Slim?


    Will get some more pictures of them later on. :)
     
  14. Jun 13, 2018 #14

    SQ

    SQ

    SQ

    Senior Member - Vegan for the animals

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2007
    Messages:
    16,855
    Likes Received:
    703
    Location:
    central New Brunswick Canada
    make sure that you put out clean shallow dishes of formula and of water so that it is always available and they will drink it what they are hungry or thirsty .... including during the day time

    one food that they might try are thawed peas
     
  15. Jun 13, 2018 #15

    Fidget

    Fidget

    Fidget

    Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    3,300
    Likes Received:
    155
    Location:
    Victoria BC
    Could you borrow or rent small live traps from SPCA or an exterminator? I dunno, just thinking...
     
  16. Jun 13, 2018 #16

    Sheldon

    Sheldon

    Sheldon

    Rataholic

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2013
    Messages:
    2,098
    Likes Received:
    644
    Location:
    North Texas
    Wow if the dish was empty, I guess there’s a good chance at least one of them came around for a snack?
     
    SQ likes this.
  17. Jun 21, 2018 at 4:53 AM #17

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    mustangrooster

    New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2018
    Messages:
    0
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Australia
    Sorry for not posting any updates, but here is an update.


    So, there is one rat left. He is an adorable little male, who is called Ratatouille (Toui for short). His sister, Shadow, escaped sometime last week, but as I have spotted a larger rat around as well, I'm sure that they are all still alive somewhere. I am no longer feeing Toui in the day, as he eats and drinks by himself at night. We spent hours trying to catch Shadow on the night that she escaped, but she is just so quick that she eventually outsmarted us. Ratatouille is so sweet; his ears are fully out now and I'm sure they could be pulled over his eyes. He is a bit braver now, and will stand on one of his toys, with his ears up in the air, sniffing me, before retreating to his blankets. I do make sure to try to handle him every day.


    He loves eating baby food and baby cereal, but as I couldn't find organic soy formula I just switched to an organic-dairy free soy milk, which he seems to enjoy, but he is slowly weaning himself off it and is now taking to water. He eats more baby food than anything else though :D [​IMG]He is still in his nursery cage, but he is getting a lot bigger now, so once I'm sure he can’t squeeze through any bars, I'll put him in his new cage. I couldn't find any rat blocks, so along with his toys he has rat/hamster/rabbit, seed/fruit blocks which he loves. I've also added a mirror in with him.


    It was a bit disappointing when Shadow escaped as I know rats need to live in pairs of 2+. So I don’t know how I'm going to go about getting him a friend, as I've read it’s not safe to put a domestic rat in with a wild rat.

    Will try to get some pictures of him tonight.
     
  18. Jun 21, 2018 at 3:37 PM #18

    Fidget

    Fidget

    Fidget

    Senior Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2007
    Messages:
    3,300
    Likes Received:
    155
    Location:
    Victoria BC
    He couldn't have kept living with his sister anyway, as you'd soon have a bunch of babies. If you get him a friend be Sure it's a male! I wouldn't think there'd be a problem introducing him to a friend as he's so young.. Little ones will play-fight a lot but not likely to get vicious.. If you have a Rescue nearby perhaps they'd let you take a kid on a trial or foster-to-adopt basis? Then they'd provide the extra cage while you see how they get on.. Even a gentle older boy might be a good mentor to him..
     

Share This Page