New baby introductions

 

Good day to you, my lovely little rat pack! Today, we’re going to talk about something that makes any rat parent a little nervous: introductions. Now, at this point I think its common sense to make sure everyone has been introduced and will get along BEFORE putting them into a locked cage together. But, in case you are super new to this sort of stuff DON’T DO THAT. There, now we’re all on the same page.

But how do you introduce them? Well, that’s usually personal preference. I recently adopted two 6 week old females (Stormy and Midnight) to keep my 18 month old (Lucy) company. And my biggest fear was Lucy deciding she didn’t want new friends and hurting the tiny ones. So, how do we let them meet up while keeping everything as safe as possible? Well, there are a few options that I personally have tried and prefer to use.

The first one is the bathtub intro. Stick them in the tub and let them do their thing. This one tends to be my favorite simply because if they need to be separated, it’s pretty easy to just reach down and grab someone. Plus, they get a little time to run around somewhere that isn’t their cage. When introducing Lucy to Midnight and Stormy, I used a combination of this method and the next one and it worked out pretty well.

The next one is close quartering. This works pretty well if you have a rather large cage that can be sectioned off. When I brought the tiny ones home, it was going to be a lot of stress on everyone to try and put them all together right away. 4 hours in a car will do that to a rat. And 8 hours round trip will do that to a human. So the best option at the time was to quarter everyone off until they had a chance to relax. My Critter Nation cage can be separated into a top and a bottom half to keep everyone apart if there is fighting or if I’m just trying to clean the darn thing and SOMEONE (little miss Lucy) won’t cooperate with the carrier or go to her dad. Doing this is a pretty easy way to get the ball rolling. Scrub down the section for the new rats, replace bedding and whatnot, and let them explore their new home. Plus, they’re close enough to start understanding the current occupant’s scent and will make a formal intro a little easier. What you can also do, if your cage can’t be separated off, is place two cages next to one another. They can still catch the scent, just not hurt each other.

The last one that I like to use is free roam. Rat proof a big, open area and let them go. Again, it’s easy to separate anyone who doesn’t want to play nice and they all get to run around. Since this is very similar to bathtub time, I won’t go into much detail. Same thing, different area.

These are just the ones that I like. There are a few others that I don’t particularly care for. But to name a few, I know some people like to place their new rats into a cage and introduce the current rat through the bars. I don’t care for this because if someone doesn’t like the other’s scent or just the look of them, someone can go crazy and get hurt or hurt you. Little hands and feet can get caught in bars and break, so I personally avoid this one. But, obviously, it’s a little safer in the sense of the rats can’t hurt each other and since you’re probably already holding one, it’s easy to just pull them away. Just watch the feets! Also, understand that this is something that should be kept short and sweet. I feel like this is more for letting them get the scent of the new addition.

Some people like to just put them in the same cage and just see what happens. Please, don’t do this, for obvious reasons.

Something you also want to keep in mind is not everyone will want a friend. Sometimes rats just want to be by themselves (which is weird but, hey, it happens) or they just don’t like who you picked out for them. You might have to accept that your rats won’t get along and shouldn’t be housed together. Keep an eye on everything to make sure things go well.

Some big things you also want to keep in mind is you might see some wrestling or boxing going on. This is typically nothing to worry about. That’s how they play and bond. Now, if there are loud squeaks coming from these “fights” or you see blood, then separation may be necessary. The biggest thing is going with your gut and doing what you feel is best. Even if that means being overprotective parent and keeping them apart for a little while longer.

 

I hope this was somewhat beneficial. If there’s anything in particular you would like to read about or like more information about, feel free to leave a comment. I would be more than happy to write about anything and everything and try to make it a little easier to find info you need.

Ten things I learned in my first year of rat parenting

Everything has a learning curve to it. Especially when it comes to a brand new animal that you’ve never cared for. When I first adopted rodents, I had literally no experience. I had helped raise dogs and cats, but that was the extent of my abilities. The most I had ever really seen of a rodent were the field mice my orange fluffer butt Chester and his buddy Luanne brought home as “presents.” All of the research I did before finding Lucy didn’t tell me what I was about to learn through experience. These are a few things you want to keep in mind when bringing home a little friend.

  1. The mess is ridiculous

No one warns you about the mess they make! Seriously, bedding everywhere. Rats like to dig, burrow, and build nests so if you use bedding that can be broken into pieces (such as paper bedding) it will be all over your carpet within about 10 minutes. Have fun!

  1. The smell is even worse

Animal urine in general smells awful. But when you have 2 or 3 rats that all use the same corner as their restroom, it gets pretty intense. Keeping the cage clean is the best way to really combat this, but the best trick I’ve found is a little bit of vanilla in their water. You’ll thank me later.

  1. They’re expensive!

So expensive! I mean, to adopt a rat it’s usually between $20 and $40, but that’s just adopting. Then there’s the cage, the bedding, the house, the toys, the food, the treats, and the medical care. Today alone, I spent $101 on a vet visit. That’s more than I pay for myself to go to the human doctor!

  1. Health Problems

Don’t even get me started on the health issues rats can have (that no one warns you about.) Respiratory issues, parasites, UTIs, ear infections; it gets crazy. And best of luck finding a vet that can help take care of it all. Most vets take only “companion animals.” So cats and dogs. Finding an exotic animal clinic is nearly impossible in some areas. Google is your best friend when it comes to this.But, always make sure to check the local clinics as well to see if they happen to have an exotic animal doctor. Some do and don’t advertise it on their website. If Google fails, try making some calls and see what turns up. Having a vet you can go to is important, no matter what the animal is.

  1. The noises are frightening sometimes

Usually, rats are pretty quiet animals. I mean, they don’t bark at the mailman or anything like that. But, if you don’t know why they’re doing it, the little chitters, squeaks, and clicks they make can be unnerving. Not to mention the noises they make when they play fight or just decide to rearrange their cage. If you’re not expecting it, the sound of a small house being pushed around can make you just out of your seat.

  1. There’s a difference between nibbles and bites

This one seems pretty obvious, but I’ve noticed that some people don’t seem to know the difference. Bites are hardcore painful and can very easily break the skin and draw blood. Those typically only happen if your ratty feels threatened or if you REALLY smell like food. Nibbles are, well, nibbles. Those are when your fingers smell like food and they gently put their teeth on them to test it. Once they realize its skin, they let go. Don’t panic. It’s normal.

  1. The scratches!

Oh goodness, the scratches. Rats have some serious claws on them, even if you give them regular trims and something to file them down. It’s part of being a rat parent. Just remember to keep those scratches clean. No one wants rat scratch fever. Helping the rats keep their feet clean can help prevent infections from scratches as well. I use special puppy paw wipes to get bacteria off their little toes if it’s getting close to bath day.

  1. No one thinks you’re doing it right

I feel like this is to be said for just about everything in life, whether it’s a human child, a dog, a cat, or a rat. No one thinks you’re doing it right. The food you feed them isn’t right. Neither are the treats. Or the bedding. Or the toys. Or the cage. And God forbid someone (who thinks free roam is the only way to go) sees the cage you spent $200 on because “how dare you lock up such a precious thing?!” My best advice: do what works for you. As long as you are both happy and healthy, forget what anyone else has to say.

  1. Play time is the best time.

Even after all of the bad and the headache, you seem to forget it exists when play time comes around. Nothing is sweeter than watching a little rat make itself a nest, chase balls around a pen, or just letting it snuggle up in your hood. That’s the best feeling. Until they use your carpet, your shirt, your pants, or your hands as their bathroom. Then it comes crashing back. But, no matter what, you still love them with all your dark little heart.

  1. Rat love is the best love

It really is. The way they run to the cage door when you come home, the excited little chitters they make when you finally hold them against your body, it’s all the best. And some days, you’re even lucky enough to get little licks. So, forget what everyone else thinks. Because, you know what, anyone who says “ew” when you mention your rat has never had that kind of love. It’s short and it’s painful, but it’s so worth it.

I feel like this was  important to have up immediately because I’ve seen a few people just jumping into having a rat/hamster/gerbil/some kind of rodent and getting a little overwhelmed with all of the things that comes with it. This is just what I found out the hard way when I first jumped in. I hope this is helpful in a sense. Just a few things to keep in mind when adopting a new rodent love.

 

If there is something I left out that you had to learn the hard way, leave it in the comments down below! If there is anything you want to see posts about, again, just let me know.

The biggest things I wish I was prepared for before adopting

I love animals. Especially rodents. They’re small enough to fit in a pocket or a hood, they give some awesome snuggles without over heating you, and they’re the best at giving little kisses without messing up your makeup. And, of course, when I went to adopt my first little fluff ball (Lucy), I did all the research I thought I would need to give her the best life ever. But, as with so many things in life, there were a few things I just wasn’t prepared for. This are just a few things that I really wish I had known about before I brought home Lucy.

I love animals. Especially rodents. They’re small enough to fit in a pocket or a hood, they give some awesome snuggles without over heating you, and they’re the best at giving little kisses without messing up your makeup. And, of course, when I went to adopt my first little fluff ball (Lucy), I did all the research I thought I would need to give her the best life ever. But, as with so many things in life, there were a few things I just wasn’t prepared for. This are just a few things that I really wish I had known about before I brought home Lucy.

  1. Everyone thinks you’re insane

Trust me, it’ll happen. Someone, somewhere will look at you like you sprouted a third head when you tell them you have rats. Unfortunately, the stereotype of “plague carrier” still rings through most people’s minds. But, don’t worry, there are communities of people who love little rodents that are there to be supportive.

  1. You know, until they turn on you.

It’s just like any other community. Sometimes, I feel like it’s worse than human parents. If you don’t match up with their beliefs EXACTLY, you’re a horrible person who is killing a helpless animal. Don’t be discouraged, though. Like most communities, there are plenty of level headed people who get that you have to do what’s best for you and your rat. And are more than willing to give helpful advice when asked. And not asked. Again, it’s a lot like having human kids. The Internet is crazy.

  1. Google is your best friend and worst enemy

Not a lot of people know how to take care of rats. Who knew? So, what do you do when you don’t know how to do something? Google it! Because in the entirety of the Internet, surely there is information about taking care of a tiny rodent. And, trust me, there is. But, like everything on the Internet, there is also a lot of conflicting information that you (as the responsible human that you are) must sift through to find out what you need and what is rat poop. There are a few sites/blogs that I personally would recommend because I, too, had to do a fair bit of sifting when I first started out.

Honestly, as someone who is a parent of a small human and several small rodents, everything is pretty similar. The biggest thing I hope you take from this is simply stop worrying about everything so hardcore and just stick to what you have found is best. If that means your rats free roam and only sleep in a cage, good for you. If that means you have a strict schedule for everything, awesome. What matters is that everyone is happy and healthy.

I hope this was beneficial to my new rat parents out there. And to my veteran parents out there, I hope this was something that brought you back to the first day you brought your first fluff ball home. What did I miss? If there something you wished you had known beforehand, let me know in the comments. Let’s make a comprehensive list for those joining our little community!