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Hug A Rat Today

Updated on October 12, 2014

Hug A Rat Today!

Rats need love too! They make wonderful, affectionate pets.

This "Hug A Rat "design I came up with, and indeed this HubPages hub, was created to encourage you to hug a rat today. If you like it, you can help spread the word with the t-shirts and specialty products I have available on CafePress and Zazzle (links further down on this hub).

However, this hub is intended to be much more than just products. I have also included links to other articles, web pages, and some quick facts about rats, as well as content I have written myself. Check back often to see what I have added, and please sign my guest book so that I know you came by for a visit.

Beware Counterfeit Merchandise

eBay Fraudster is selling my design

I have discovered that someone in Hong Kong has stolen my design and is selling inferior counterfeit mouse pads with my design.

If you bought one, you have been ripped off. At this time, the only place you can get legitimately made merchandise with this pattern is through my CafePress and Zazzle stores, links to which can be found later in this page.

I have reported the fakes to eBay and hopefully they will be suspended.

UPDATE: It took a while but the offending listings were removed from eBay.

Upcoming Shows and Events

Let me know of a rat-related show or event and I will post it here

If you know of an upcoming rat show or event, let me know and I will post about it here.

Small Animal Rescues

Before buying a rat or any other small animal from a pet store, consider adopting one that already needs a good "forever home" from a local rescue.

Grieving

I was going to put this in with the other links for support and info, but decided that the loss of a beloved pet is important enough to deserve its own section.

Here is where I will be putting links to sites related to coping with the loss of our furry friends.

New Expanded version of Playpen Article

I have added an entire new page that illustrates the steps required for building the rat playpen I have previously described in this page.

RATte Anyone? - Accidental Art

If you aren't familiar with the term Latte Art, here's what it is. Many baristas, the people in specialty coffee shops who make the drinks, have become skilled at pouring the milk for a latte in a manner that forms a pattern that looks like a real world thing. Common patterns are a heart and rosetta leaf, but there are many other variations and unique patterns.

Now,making latte art on a home espresso machine is more difficult because you typically don't get quite the same quality of micro-foam in the milk, plus most home machines come with a steaming pitcher that doesn't have the proper v-shaped spout. I had to go out and find a pitcher that works for me, and even then, most of the time I don't get a good pattern.

However, one day I was making a latte at home, and poured the milk without really trying for a pattern. I was surprised to look down at my drink and see what appeared to be the rough shape of a rat in my coffee. I had to take a picture.

Note that I had to rotate the picture to best show off the rat shape, so that is why the shadow looks a little unusual.

Rat Pipes

A simple, inexpensive toy for your ratties.

Rats love to explore and hide in tunnels. You can create some for your pets by buying some white plastic/PVC pipes. Make sure you clean them first to remove dirt and other contaminants that might not be good for them.

Buy various segments that can be connected together for longer tunnels. the beauty of it is that you can change it up frequently to make brand new tunnels, so they should never get bored with it.

My Rats: Stephanie (updated)

Focus on Stephanie

Stephanie is our oldest rat currently (as of June 14, 2009). Coming to us as one of three girls adopted from a large seizure of animals in the BC Fraser Valley in 2007, Stephanie was immediately evident as the "alpha" female in the group. She would act as the protector of the other two, Linda and Allison, grabbing my finger (but not biting) when I put my hand into the cage.

However, as she got to know us, she has mellowed out into a sweet old girl. We aren't sure how old she was when we adopted her, but we've had her about two years now, and is currently one of only a handful of remaining survivors from the big 50-rat seizure. The picture seen here is the picture we grabbed from the online PetFinders site we saw her picture posted on when we were deciding to take the three girls, so I am not sure whose knee Steph was relaxing on. She has since grown considerably larger... yes, she's a bit on the pudgy side.

UPDATE: Sadly, Stephanie developed some problems, likely mammary tumours, plus a urinary tumour or infection, and had to be sent to the Rainbow Bridge late on July 22, 2009. We'll miss you, Stephanie.

My Rats: Allison

Focus on Allison

Allison came to us as one of the three we adopted from the big 50 in the Fraser Valley in 2007. She was a very sweet little girl, with an extremely soft coat of fur. She did have a "fear pooping" problem at first, where the moment I picked her up she would defecate. This got better over time, though we still would always keep Kleenex close at hand.

Of the three, she had the most medical problems... From a persistent sneeze that the vet figured was damage done by a prior respiratory illness (all of the rats in that big seizure were sick) to an abscess, to bleeding from the mouth from an infection, Allison had her share of problems. But she was a trooper and pulled through each one.

We weren't sure how old she was -- we always figured she was the baby of the three, but in early 2009 she began going downhill - becoming frail and very old looking. Finally, in mid-March we lost her, but her memory lives on.

My Rats: Linda

Focus on Linda

This section will be used to introduce the rats I have had in the last few years. I hope at some point to scan pictures of rats I had longer ago as well.

Linda, with her dark, chocolate brown fur, came to us along with her cagemates Stephanie and Allison, in the early summer of 2007. There had been a large seizure of animals, including about 50 rats, from a hoarder in the Fraser Valley in British Columbia.

Initially, we had requested two of the three, Stephanie and Allison, but then decided that we didn't have the heart to split them up so we agreed to take Linda as well.

She was a shy, but very sweet little girl. She would sit on my lap or shoulder and cuddle. There was never any indication that anything was wrong, but unfortunately we found her body on the morning May 29th 2008 in her cage, surrounded by her friends. She had her eyes closed and was in a position she often slept in, so we presume she slipped away peacefully during the night.

The picture seen here was the one posted on the rescue's web site when we were deciding to adopt her.

My Rats: Snowy

Focus on Snowy

This section will be used to introduce the rats I have had in the last few years. I hope at some point to scan pictures of rats I had longer ago as well.

Snowy was the first family rat for my wife, my son and myself. He was a male white rat we bought at PetCetera in 2004. That was at a time when we didn't know about rat breeders and animal rescues as an option.

We don't regret getting Snowy, though - he was one of the sweetest creatures you could ever imagine. And big, too... it took two hands to hold him. Unfortunately, he got old and just two days before Christmas 2006 he passed away in my arms. He's gone but not forgotten - I still have his picture on my Windows desktop.

Build a Rat Playpen

For Very Little Money - Updated Aug. 12, 2009

Note: A new version of this article, with step by step illustrations, can be found here.

Here's how I built a playpen for very little cost. Originally I had built a 2'x4' area pen but I have recently expanded to a full 4'x4' pen size.

What you will need to do is go to a place like Home Depot or another store that sells sheets of hardboard.

I bought two sheets of 4'x2', and two sheets of 2'x2' hardboard, but you can use four of the 4'x2' if you have room. the concept is the same. I found I needed the two-foot high walls because we had one rat that was a jumper. Even then, she managed to reach the top of the wall a few times.

You will also need a sheet of linoleum. For the dimensions I built, get a piece slightly larger than the 4'x2' area. This will be the floor of the pen.

Next, cut slots into the boards approximately an inch and a half in from the ends, and halfway down. If you have access to a saw, you can cut the wood yourself, but if not, you can usually get them to make the cuts in the store.

The idea is that the boards will fit together at the slots. The longer side boards should be positioned with the slots up, and then slide the end boards with the slots down into the sideboard slots. This makes it fairly easy to put together and take down again when you need extra space, though it's easiest if you have another person to help you steady the side boards while you attach the end. Once the four sides to the pen are in place, position it over the linoleum floor sheet.

If you want to make an even sturdier floor, get another sheet of hardboard big enough to fit the entire area of the bottom of the pen, and cover it with vinyl stick-on tiles, which are easy to install and keep clean.

An alternative to a linoleum or vinyl tile floor is a large fleece blanket. This will be softer on the rats' feet, though to clean up you'll need to occasionally throw the blanket into the laundry rather than a simple wipedown.

Safety

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Of course, make sure you or someone else in the household is always supervising, just in case you have a jumper too or if a dispute breaks out.

If jumping is a problem, consider building a lid for the pen with a mesh screen to allow for air ventilation.

Be careful of bumping into the pen or moving the walls while the rats are playing... you don't want to accidentally catch a tail or paw under the boards.

Give them a variety of fun but safe toys to play with, and perhaps a hanging hammock (like those sold by Little Mischief Rescue, the link to which is elsewhere on this page), for older ratties to take a breather.

Rat Lists

This section contains links to lists related to rats.

How To Keep Your Rats Happy

For one thing, rats are very social animals. Thus, a rat living in a cage on its own will get lonely when you aren't there to play with him or her. For this reason, it is recommended that you have two rats. They will play together, especially when they are young, and will also spend a lot of time grooming each other and cuddling together. Just a note, though, about keeping more than one rat. Be sure to make them both the same sex, or have them spayed/neutered in order to prevent those two rats from becoming a big horde of rats in a relatively short time.

Even with a companion of their own species, rats love interaction with people, so spend time one-on-one with your rats, talking to them in a calm voice to keep them used to the sound of your voice... that way if they ever accidentally get loose,they will trust the sound of you talking to them as a safety zone, and will hopefully come running to you.

Rats like to be mentally stimulated. Give them a variety of toys to play with. If there's not really enough room in their cage, then try constructing a playpen for them. (see my other item on this page, demonstrating how I built mine for very little money). Some rats like to push a small ball, such as a ping-pong ball, around. Others will follow a piece of yarn if you drag it around in front of them. Others love a wheel. Be very careful about the type of wheel you give your rats... many wheels were designed with hamsters in mind, which are small and have only stubs for tails. Rats are larger and have longer tails that could get injured in a typical hamster wheel. Two types of wheel I suggest are the Wodent Wheel, and the Comfort Wheel. Their design is a more solid one that is less likely to result in an injured paw or tail.

Got Rats On Your Mind?

What do you see in this ink blot?

Okay... so it's not a true ink blot. It's my late rat friend Allison, who left us for the Rainbow Bridge on March 12, 2009.

Did You Know...

It is illegal to own a rat in the Province of Alberta, Canada.

Rats' incisors grow continuously and must be kept worn down to avoid growing through the cheeks or the roof of the mouth.

Rats are unable to vomit.

Rats "laugh" when playing or being tickled -- you can only hear it using a device such as a bat detector, however, because the sound is outside human hearing range.

Despite what they might appear from a distance, a rat's tail is not bare. Instead, it is covered with small, bristly hairs.

Rats' tails are multipurpose. They can be used as an aid when a rat is backing up, in order to feel its way around obstacles - the bristly hairs on the tail serve as sensory receptors. The tail is also used for balance. And finally, the tail is used to help radiate excess body heat in order to help keep the rat cooler in warm weather.

While often maligned as dirty creatures, rats actually spend a great deal of time washing themselves much like a cat does. The main reason wild rats tend to live in filthy conditions is because they are often forced to live where they have access to a ready source of food, namely the garbage we humans toss out into the back alleys.

Rats did not carry the bubonic plague, or "black death", nor were they directly responsible for it. Instead, it was the rat flea, which preferred the Black Rat (rattus rattus) as a host, that carried the disease. Once the fleas sickened and killed the rats, the flea needed to find a new host. If no other black rats were handy, the flea would often jump to a human host. Incidentally, the Brown Rat, also known as the Norway Rat (rattus norvegicus), helped to drive away much of the black rat population. The flea didn't like the Norway Rat as much and eventually the plague died down.

Harlan Rodent Diet

Looking for Harlan Teklad lab blocks? Amazon.com (US) sells them under the brand name Native Earth.

Rat Intelligence

Please note: Some of these links have descriptive introductions extracted from the site the link leads to. References to pronouns like "I" refer to the page's author, not myself.

Rats Laughing

A video showing how bat detectors let us hear rats apparently laughing.

Ratatouille

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    • LovelyxOdd profile image

      LovelyxOdd 4 years ago

      What a cute design! Check out my lens about little ratties http://www.squidoo.com/workshop/give-rats-a-chance

    • squidoopets profile image

      Darcie French 5 years ago from Abbotsford, BC

      @darciefrench lm: I am also Darcie French; I would love for you to post my rat coloring pages lens here, many thanks :) PS - we just adopted another male rat from the SPCA in Abbotsford. So now Biscuit has a rattie buddy :)

    • darciefrench lm profile image

      darciefrench lm 5 years ago

      We just adopted a rehabilitated male rat from the SPCA in Abbotsford, we found a listing for him on kijiji. We are absolutely thrilled with him, he cuddles and lets you hold him, loves to be scratched, is very trusting- our whole family is head over heals in love with this little creature.

    • Tyla MacAllister profile image

      Tyla MacAllister 6 years ago

      I once had a pet rat named Zelda. She looked a lot like Allison. She was a very sweet pet and we had her for about 4 years. A lot of people would be freaked out when I told them we had a pet rat but everyone who met her fell in love with her. Rats have a way of doing that.

      This lens has been blessed by a squidangel.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Amazing lens on rats and very helpful tips. Hope human beings find alternative ways of testing instead of using them like guinea pigs on every antibiotic that comes up.

    • profile image

      ideadesigns 6 years ago

      Incredible lens on rats. I learned so much, like how smart they are and they like to be doing something. Wow Snowy was a big rat! These are amazing pets. Thanks for sharing.

    • indigoj profile image

      Indigo Janson 7 years ago from UK

      What a wonderful rat resource. Rats can be great pets and definitely deserving of our love and care. Great work!

    • profile image

      hamsterguy 7 years ago

      very cute lens :D

    • Swisstoons profile image

      Thomas F. Wuthrich 7 years ago from Michigan

      I enjoyed the heck out of this lens! Learned more about rat than I thought possible...although, I confess, I did think the "ink blot" showed two playpusses (sp?) nose to nose. Thanks for making this! How to show my g-rat-itude...that is the question. I know! I will star it, favorite it...and lensroll it to my pet clothing lens. Sorry, that's the best I can do. Maybe a chihuahua shirt would fit one of the larger rats? BTW, have you ever thought of putting your pets on a calorie-restricted life-extending diet? I'm thinking the savings in funeral expenses might make it worth the effort.

    • PNWtravels profile image

      Vicki Green 7 years ago from Wandering the Pacific Northwest USA

      A lot of great information about pet rats!

    • profile image

      anonymous 8 years ago

      Thanks for the info on the ratty playpen! I think I might utilize that. Since it breaks down easily, moving it for cleaning and the like shouldn't be too hard. Thanks again!