i should have wrote this a long time ago.
Rats are fairly difficult to take proper care of. they dont live very long and tend to die of respiratory illness or tumors.
I usually dont advise people to get rats. they just dont live long enough compared to how much you will care about them. average lifespan is a year or two.
apart from that, rats are the best pets i have ever had.
When you get rats, either get them from a reputable breeder or a rescue.
pet shop rats are bred as food and usually carry lots of illness and are extremely prone to tumors.
a rescue will help you a great deal with their care.
breeders will breed rats based on their good health and lack of tumors to ensure their babies arent as prone to disease.
Rats are extremely intelligent and social. always get them in same sex pairs at least. they need to be around other rats or they get lonely.
but like i said, rats are extremely intelligent and each one is different. you will never ever have 2 rats that are the same. they have intricate, individual personalities.
They need to be let out of their cage at least a few hours every single day. dont get rats if you plan on always having them in the cage.
i never locked my rats in their cages. they would only go in their cages for food, water or to rest.
The difference between males and females.
make sure you dont mix sexes or youll be overrun with rats in as little as 2 months.
female rats can give birth every month or so and have aroun 8 babies at a time. she can get pregnant right after giving birth. the baby rats can get pregnant in as little as 4 weeks.
Male rats tend to be very calm, lazy and physically sweet. theyll sit in your lap and fall asleep or cuddle when your watching tv.
theyre muscular and have a musky smell. their testicles are just under the tail and massive. about the size of their head. you cant mistake them for females easily.
they play fight with other males sometimes. one rat pins the other down and licks his belly. its funny to watch but can get rough.
try to get brothers from the same litter.
male rats cant tolerate Oranges either. doesnt affect females.
Female rats are very very hyperactive. they love to run around and explore and chew through things to make nests. they are fairly destructive so you might want to hide any electrical cables.
they are smaller and sleeker than male rats and dont have a smell.
they just love to rip inside of things and make a little house. this is fun unless its your mattress or sofa.
Basically, females are fun to watch and males are fun to play with.
rats have personalities too so you will always get exceptions.
You might want a bunch of simple toys in their cages for when you put them away. my rats were always interested in things like tubes and stuff they can climb.
Diet. Rats need a mix of fresh vegetables to wear down their teeth. its important you check their teeth are growing right every week or so. there are all sorts of dry rat foods you can get which rats wont be too interested in. they prefer fresh stuff and they just love human junk food. its not good for them in excess but you can give them it as a treat every now and then.
carrots, lettuce, cucumbers, anything crunchy is good for wearing teeth down.
Now for illness. you should always keep a stockpile of cash for when they get ill. find a decent vet and surgeon before you get any.
Rats have very delicate respiratory systems. even stress can make them very ill and open the door for a deadly infection. once they show any signs of breathing difficulty its very hard to bring them back to good health.
Try to keep your rats immune systems healthy with responsible, well researched medicines.
adding echinacea to their water one week and off the next is known to help. research this very carefully though. do it wrong and you risk creating resistant bacteria.
Tumors happen for various reasons and there is never a gaurantee your rat wont get one. if you find a lump anywhere on your rat, get it checked by a vet.
it could just be an abcess, like a spot. if it isnt then it needs to be removed before it spreads.
surgery carries a big risk. anathetics arent made for animals as small as rats so they could die under anathesia. if your rat has a respiratory problem then anasthesia could kill them.
it can be very expensive too, so try and find a good vet and surgeon before you get any rats.
Keep your rats cages clean to stop them getting sick. you have to remove the parts of used bedding each morning before it dries into dangerous chemicals.
The wrong bedding can make them sick too. dusty, woodflake bedding will get into their noe and lungs causing illness.
the best bedding i found was homepages.tesco.net/ecopetbed/…
its basically dust-free, chopped up cardboard boxes.
Join a rat community to get advice and share pictures.
i use www.fancy-rats.co.uk/
A good site for research www.ratguide.com/
Thats everything i can think of right now