The Life of My Rats
Rats Rats Rats
My rats are incredibly special to me, so I decided to make a page that is all about them. I will talk about their housing, food, and free range time, so if you are looking for information about pet rat care hopefully you will find some ideas here. And of course there will be plenty of cute pictures!
Meet My Rats
Koko is my 28 month old siamese dumbo rat. She has been fighting a respiratory illness for over a year, and has recently developed a mammary tumor (which I can't have removed because it's too risky to put her under anesthesia). However, she is a very strong, happy rat. She is incredibly sweet and cuddly, but still has some mischievous youth left in her.
After Koko's original cagemate, Loki, passed away I adopted Lily and her sisters, Rue and Piper, from the SPCA. Lily, the biggest of the 3 younger girls, immediately became the alpha rat. She enjoys wrestling with her rat siblings and fishing for peas.
Piper is a very friendly hyper rat. She is the most outgoing of the younger rats, and enjoys being pet. She is usually the first rat out for free range time and the last one to sleep.
Rue is my smallest baby. Although she is also the shyest, she has been becoming more and more social every day. She is very quick and agile and she loves to jump and swim. She is a complete sweetheart, and never picks fights with her rat siblings.
Although I already had my hands pretty full with my 4 girls, I just couldn't resist adopting Jimi. He was in need of a new home, and I knew I could give him a wonderful life. After a neuter* and several weeks of introductions, Jimi finally moved in with the girls. During his first night in the girls' cage he slept cuddled up with Rue, which was the most heart-warming sight. Now he sleeps and plays with all my girls. From the day I met him, Jimi has been a very friendly rat. He enjoys wrestling with my hand, and
cuddling up and being pet.
*I wanted to spay all my girls instead of neutering Jimi, because spaying greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors. However, no vets in the area are experienced with spays so I had to go with the neuter instead.
The Cage - Double Critter Nation
My rats live in a double Critter Nation cage. It is approximately 3' wide x 2' deep x 5' tall, which gives them lots of space. The front of the cage fully opens up which makes cleaning and rearranging the cage easy. My rats and I both love this cage!
Once a week I clean and rearrange the cage. Here are a few examples of cage setups.Click thumbnail to view full-size
This is the day Jimi moved in with the girls.Click thumbnail to view full-size
Halloween Rat Cage
This year I decorated my rat cage for Halloween. It was fun to set up and the rats are really enjoying it. For ideas on how to decorate your own cage visit my other page:
My rats staple diet is Harlan Teklad lab blocks. These contain all the nutrients rat need. My rats love them, and especially like to stash them around the cage.
Fresh Veggies and Fruit
I try to give my rats fresh veggies every day, and fresh fruit a few times a week. To try to slow the grow of Koko's tumor I try to provide lots of cancer-fighting foods such as kale, spinach, brussel sprouts, broccoli, blueberries and grapes. My rats favorite foods are banana, broccoli, and peas.
In addition to lab blocks and fresh veggies, I occasionally give the rats a bit of homemade grain mix for variety. The mix is made up of things like rolled oats, puffed wheat, puffed rice, tri-colored pasta, whole wheat pasta, flax seed, and barley. I often put this mix in rattie pinatas (toilet paper rolls wrapped in paper and hung in the cage). It's more challenging and fun for the rats to forage for their food.
We love to eat!Click thumbnail to view full-size
Corn on the cob!
My rats love corn on the cob! They go crazy and play tug-o-war with it. I only give it to them occasionally as corn isn't very nutritious.
Free Range Time
Every day my rats come out for free range time. Usually I take them out on my bed, or the couch, but occasionally I will let them run around in the bathroom. Each time I take them out I set the toys up in a different way. I combine pillows, pvc pipe tunnels, a flexible air duct tunnel, and several little houses to make fun playground. On special occasions (usually rat birthday parties) I set up my tent in the living room and let the rats play in it; they go crazy!
Fishing for Peas
One of my rats' favorite free range activities is fishing for frozen peas. I just fill a plastic bin with water, frozen peas, and toys such as pebbles and ping pong balls.
Digging in Wheatgrass
My rats love rooting around in a bin of wheatgrass. I plant wheat in a plastic bin with clean soil, and then let it grow for a week. The rats have so much fun diffing up the sprouts and getting dirty.