Disco's Critters

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General Care
Nail & Teeth trimming

Colors & Markings

Sexing info
Pre-Breeding info
Pregnancy Info
Baby Info

Health Tips
Veterinary Care
Abscesses & Tumors
Sprained ankles/Torn toenails
Degloving/Tail injury
Old Age

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80stoysale.com HOME

Disco's Critters

Please click on a link to take you to each page.

General Care
Nail & Teeth trimming

Colors & Markings

Sexing info
Pre-Breeding info
Pregnancy Info
Baby Info

Health Tips
Veterinary Care
Abscesses & Tumors
Sprained ankles/Torn toenails
Degloving/Tail injury
Old Age

Please click on a picture to take you to each page

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Rat Information
Disco's Rats

Rats are wonderful and my rats are my life!
My Rats have taught me a lot over the years and i hope this site will help other rat owners care for their pets.

"Every person should be lucky enough to be owned by Rats!"

My Brief Rat History:

I was introduced to my first pet rat back in 1996. After he passed away i acquired more and more and was hooked. I was infected with GGMR -Gotta Get More rats Syndrome, i have been owned by rats ever since! I have never been ratless since and hope to never be!
I am a USDA licensed breeder for Guinea pigs, Hedgehogs, Egyptian Spiny Mice, African Soft Fur Rats, Roborovski Dwarf Hamsters, Winter White Dwarf Hamsters and Syrian Hamsters. I also breed Rats and mice. (which are not USDA regulated.)
I really enjoy arranging private adoptions and talking to other rattie owners.
I Breed for Health, Temperament and Longevity -and of course cuteness!
I have over 20 years experience with rats. Typically i care for over 100 Rats a month between my own and my jobs.
I let my rats free range for play time and usually have a mischief who is allowed to free range all the time except when another mischief is out. I have a Male group and a female group and sometimes another separate group if someone doesn't get along with the existing groups.
If the occasion arises i like to acquire rats who are elderly or have cosmetic problems (One eye, no toes, stub tail etc.) and try to give them good lives.
My Breeder rats are kept on a separate level of the house away from my pet rats who aren't bred.
I love all rodents!

General Rat Information:

Rats make wonderful pets, they make great Friends for people of all ages. They are a good size to be easy to handle by children or elderly, while Hamsters, Mice and Gerbils tend to be able to jump and wiggle away much quicker.
Pet rats are very clean and curious, they are not dirty filthy snarling animals, like the movies portray them to be!
Rats are very Intelligent. They learn quickly and act much like a small dog. They enjoy cuddling and playtime but are also comfortable doing their own rattie things while in their cage. Rats are fairly inexpensive to acquire and care for generally, but rats are prone to tumors and respiratory problems and may need to see a Vet in their lifetime. If you are unwilling to pay for medical bills if they arise please do not get a pet.
For anyone unsure about rats i suggest you just stop and take a look into their cute little faces!
It is common among the rat community to say that "You are owned by your rats", instead of saying "You own rats."
Once you get a rat, most people are hooked for life and will never be ratless again!

Topics covered on this page.
Click on the section you would like to visit or continue scrolling down the page.
General Care Personality/Habits Lifespan Nail & Teeth trimming Baths Introduction/Fighting Quarantine

Information about Choosing the right rat for you:

Before you decide to bring a rat (or any animal) into your home be sure to think over the decision carefully.
Do you have enough time to spend with the animal?
Do you have enough money to pay for Vet bills if they arise?
Are you devoted to making a lifelong commitment to your rats happiness & to have them live with you their whole life?

  • Before acquiring a rat, or letting one play around the house, Immediately check your house and/or location for any rat/mouse traps or poison that may be in your house, if you find some remove it immediately and clean the area where it was stored.
    * What to do with rat poison: If possible flush the poison down the toilet, or put it in a tightly sealed container. For glue traps fold the traps in half or stick them onto something else. Disable and disassemble spring loaded traps and throw them away.
    By disposing of traps carefully this will decrease the likelihood of wild animals getting hurt.

    When choosing a rat, if possible, use these tips:
  • Check the rats body for wounds, bites, bugs, tumors or obvious health problems.
  • Check to make sure the rats nose is dry, a wet nose can be a sign of respiratory problems.
  • Hold the rat up to your ear and listen to their breathing (Lungs) to check for breathing difficulties.
  • Try to get a rat that matches your personality.
  • Rats come in many different colors, just because the rat is a color you like does not necessarily mean it is the best match for you.
  • Young rats (Rats under a year old) tend to be quite active, running and playing all the time, while older rats tend to become a bit lazy.
  • Rats will bond the most with humans if handled from birth and depending on the care they are given throughout their lives.
  • Handling pet rat babies will not cause the mom to kill them, however as i precaution i always touch every baby and pet the parents to ensure they all are covered with my scent so some don't smell differently then the others.
  • Rats enjoy being let out of their cages to play at least once a day. All though your rats may have a large cage with plenty of room to exercise, they still like to run around referred to as "free range."
  • When picking out an animal be sure to pick it up and see how it reacts to you. (Watch for aggressive behavior from the rat & be aware of your own allergies.)
  • Examine the cage/environment the rats are housed in for other dead or sick animals, if a cage mate is sick, sometimes all the rats in the same cage or location can be sick.
  • Watch how aggressive the rats are with their cage mates (if they have any.)
    If they are aggressive at the store/breeder they may be aggressive at home.
  • Never trust the Pet stores advice, do your own research, Pet store employees usually have very limited knowledge on rats (or pets in general) and commonly give misleading or false information.
    If you are acquiring a female rat, make sure that the female has been kept with only females, it is quite common for rat owners who acquire female rats from pet stores to bring them home and then days or weeks later the female suddenly gives birth.
    It is also known to happen that pet stores will not know the correct gender of the animals. Such as you think you have two females, only to find out one is a male when you find babies.
    Examine the rats closely to ensure you know just what gender they actually are.
  • The best way to get accurate information about rats is to talk to someone who is a long term rat owner and has experience with them.
  • Males & Females can NOT live together for any amount of time unless you want babies or one or both of them have been neutered or spayed. Rats can mate in under a second and breed fast. Keep males with males and females with females! Keep males & females cages on opposite sides of the room or in separate rooms if possible -on occasion if they are determined enough and the gaps on the cage are wide enough they have been known to mate through the cage bars or sneak right in.
  • I suggest giving all new rats (or animals in general) a bath within 3 days of bringing them home, to wash off old odors of their past cage/home. (since bedding, cage mates and food may change)
    Also when giving the rat a bath you can examine them more closely to look for scars, scratches, bumps or lumps that you may not have noticed earlier.
  • By putting your hand out slowly in front of the rat, so that the rat can smell you and then letting the rat approach you and then picking up the rat, this will help make new rats more comfortable, then if you suddenly picked them up.
  • One rat needs more attention then if you had several rats who could all keep each other company.
  • It is beneficial to ensure your rats happiness that you get them in pairs or more. By getting two they will get less lonely as they can play with each other while you are unable to play with them.
  • Getting rats in pairs at the same time is much better then having one rat already establish their territory and then trying to introduce a new rat later.
    Get Rats in pairs!

    General Care & Info:

  • Feeding your rats a varied diet is very important to keeping them healthy.
  • Be sure your rat has plenty of water available at all times. (a Dehydrated rat is not a happy rat.)
  • Rats do not like alfalfa pellets, as much as the rat food companies try to persuade you and them, most rats do not like them and most will not eat them.
  • Rats sweat through their tails -if their tails are overly dirty and covered in dead skin it is hard for them to sweat properly. Bathing is occasionally needed.
  • If your rat seems overheated you can dip their tail into cool water to bring their temperature down.
  • If a rat fight occurs try to separate them with an object such as a pillow rather then sticking your hand into the scuffle. You can also attempt to break up the fight by spraying them with a water bottle.
  • Rats can get into everything and will need some training on what the "Rat appropriate" areas are. You can train your rats by squeaking loudly, saying a stern "No", spraying with water, using a whistle & using food rewards.
  • Try to never stick your hand under furniture or in rat houses unexpectedly, (especially with new rats) you may startle the rat and they may bite you thinking they need to defend themselves or that you are food. (even if your rat has never bitten before a good scare may make them bite.) I always try to clear my throat or bang on the cage bars a little bit to try to get the rats attention before picking them up, so they won't be startled.
  • Rats should be picked up by first letting them know you are there, then wrapping both hands around their middle area and picking them up. By providing support for their feet, this will make them more comfortable and stop them from scrambling around as much. Holding them close to your body will help make them feel more secure as well, so they are not just dangling in the air.
  • Never pick a rat up by their tail! Pulling on a rats tail could cause the tail to break, or cause a serious injury called Degloving.
    If you need to get a hold of the rat very quickly to prevent escape or injury try to grab for a foot rather then the tail.
    (See the rat illnesses page to learn more about Degloving.)
  • Rats do not have a gag reflex and are unable to throw up.
    Thus when trying new foods they have never eaten before, to prevent themselves from becoming sick they tend to take a small test bite and wait for several hours to make sure they don't get sick and then come back and finish the meal.
    After a rat has eaten a certain type of food several times or if another rat in the pack sees another rat eating a new certain type of food they are more likely to eat it without testing it.
  • Rats can chew through steel if determined enough, it may take them a while to do it, but eventually they could/will succeed.
  • Rats do not have nerves in their teeth so when chewing on wires or tinfoil they do not feel the pain, unless the wire touches their skin.
  • Rats teeth are supposed to be slightly orange colored, if your rat has all white teeth that can be a sign they are malnourished.
  • Make sure to clean your rats cage as needed. Several rats will be messier then others.
  • Beware of cold weather, rats get cold too, especially hairless and love to have blankets and towels to hide in to keep themselves warm.
  • Rats hair will stand on end when they are upset with you or other animals, if your rats hair is standing up, i would separate the rats immediately and back away from the rat and let them calm down, the rat may bite.
  • Introduce new rats in a freshly cleaned cage that is also rearranged if possible. That way the cage is new for both of them. Rats will sniff each other head to toe to examine each other. If the rats hair stands up and they act aggressive, separate the rats immediately. Spray with water and try again another day.
  • Bringing new rats into the home if you already own rats can be risky.
    Rats determine a leader, and then everyone else falls into rank under them, if a rat dies or new rats come into the household, then the whole rank scale is upset, and needs to be determined again, sometimes everyone gets along and it's a perfect family, and sometimes a few rats will refuse to give up their higher ranking position and will fight with the new rat. Some rats will never get along, and are unable to live together.
    There is also a risk when bringing in new pets of spreading illness -quarantining new rats is advised.
  • Neck bites:
    Rats sometimes will chew on each others necks, to play around, show affection and also sometimes to pick on the other rat. If you find scabs on your rats neck area, watch for signs of another rat chewing on them before suspecting bugs.
  • All rats shed their whiskers from time to time. They use their whiskers to help keep balanced. If your rat has a kink or has damage to their whiskers they may start running into things or become unbalanced until the whiskers grow back.
  • Rats are very smart and will learn to identify sounds -such as they will all come running if you open snack packages, or the sound of tapping on a dinner plate to let them know dinner is ready.


    Rats are very friendly animals. They act much like small dogs.
    Rats all have their own personalities, differences and similarities.
    Some rats are super friendly and love to be held, while others only want to sit next to you and not on your lap, others may just not want to be bothered at the moment.
    Some rats will take all the snacks you will give them and stash them away and keep coming back for more, while others only eat as much as they want and won't take anymore.
    Some rats like to play or swim in water on occasion.
    Different rats may like different things. (Such as different sleeping spots, foods or scratch areas.)
    If one rat sees another rat eat or play with something they have not seen before, they may just play or eat the item, rather then testing it themselves.
    Rats will chatter their teeth when they are happy or in severe pain. This is referred to as Bruxing.
    Rats will bug out their eyes from time to time when they are content. This is called boggling.
    Rats especially males urinate little droplets as they walk over things scent marking their territory.
    Rats will also rub their necks and bodies on and over items to scent mark them.
    *I observe scent marking most frequently if i let the girls out first, then when the boys come out they vigorously scent mark everything following the females scent trail.
    It is common for rats to nibble on toes, fingernails and Band-Aids out of curiosity.
    Some rats are very active and can jump long distances, most commonly a rat can jump about 2 feet, but on occasion they have been known to jump nearly 4 feet.
    Some Furry rats enjoy getting their hair brushed. A doll brush works very well.
    Rats can squeak and scream.
    Rats will squeak when hurt, scared, fighting, or sometimes if startled.
    Rats will scream if hurt, scared or if they come across a new rat or other pet that they have not seen before.
    *I never heard a rat scream until one day i had Stormy, my Pouched rat & my boys out during free range time, these particular rats had never met before. The boys happened to find her and started screaming and squeaking. After i came over and introduced everyone, everything was fine, but i think the boys were just startled and in complete shock to come across such as big rat without warning! :)
    Rats will yawn when they are tired or just waking up -a perfect opportunity to see their big teeth.

    See Scruffy Yawn.

    Rat's Life span:

    Unfortunately a rats life span is quite short.
    On average rats live 1 1/2 - 3 years.
    In rare cases they are rumored to live up to 4-5 years.
    The oldest reported rat while "The Guinness Book of World Records" was still keeping track was 7 years 4 months old.
    In the rat world community if you have a rat make it to 2 years you are considered lucky, if you have a rat make it to 3 years old you are considered very lucky, Anything over that and you are considered very, very lucky!
    If possible try to get the exact date of birth of your pet from the place you are acquiring them from. Having an exact birth date can be helpful for celebrating rat birthdays and determining their age.
    Just because your rat is not necessarily old, doesn't mean they can not suffer from old age symptoms.
    The longevity of lifespan depends a lot on the genes, "Feeder" rats or rats not bred for health have a shorter lifespan, then rats bred for good health and long life.

    A few ways to try to determine how old your rat is:
  • Rats under 6 months old have a small pointy head/nose, while older adult rats have a larger wider (fatter) head.
  • On the tip of a rats tail, sometimes there will be a little "Tip", usually if there is a "Tip" on your rats tail, this means your rat is still growing and is under 6 months old. Although this is not true in all cases as some rats have "Tips" on their tails their whole lives while others no longer have the "tip" once they are full grown.
  • Rats under 6 months old are very active and love to run around. As rats get older around 8 months they tend to become fatter, lazier and sleep more often. (especially with males)

    Rat Nail Trimming:

    Some rats will trim their nails by biting them and some you will have to trim their nails with a clipper.
    If your rat's nails become to long or sharp you will need to trim them with a small animal nail trimmer.
    A human fingernail trimmer can be used but they cut straight rather then circular like the small animal trimmer. Using a human trimmer can cause nails to crack or split.
    In order to tell if your rats nails are overgrown or to long, look at their nails, Their nails should start off on the toes pink referred to as the quick and as the nail get longer you should notice on the tips a white part, trim that off, be careful not to cut their nails to short, it will cause the rat pain and bleeding.

    Do not trim any part of the pink. Rats nails/toes tend to bleed a lot and it can be tricky to get them to stop bleeding. (If you are unsure about nail trimming, most vets will trim small animals nails for fairly cheap)
    If your rats nails are becoming sharp, you can put a rock or brick in the corner of their cage -or under the water bottle -a place they frequent often to help file their nails.
    You can also use a nail file and file your rats nails -if they will let you :)
    *If you happen to trim the rats nails to short and/or they start to bleed you can use blood stop, flour or chinchilla dust to stop and/or clot the bleeding.
    A spot of super glue can also be used to stop bleeding.
    A rat's nails can bleed a lot, so it may seem like a blood bath or massacre but don't freak out, the rat will clean the wound and it should clot and stop bleeding soon.
    If the rat does start bleeding wrapping them in a towel will prevent blood from going everywhere.
    Be sure to clean up the blood mess right away as blood attacks flies and mites.
    On occasion rats can get a torn nail or hangnail from getting snagged on the carpet or hammock, trim those as needed.
    *There are many types of small animal nail trimmers available, if possible buy one with a metal handle, the plastic ones sometimes are not strong enough and can break during trimming.
    Here is a picture of a small animal nail trimmer. (available at pet stores).

    Teeth Trimming:

    Rats will rarely need their teeth trimmed if they are eating and chewing properly.
    Overgrown teeth are most common if:
  • The rat knocks their teeth out of alignment by falling or getting injured.
  • Their eating habits are slowed or effected due to old age.
  • In rare instances some rats can be born with misaligned teeth, usually due to a misaligned jaw.
  • Rats do not have nerves in their teeth so the trimming does not hurt them.
  • Do not trim your rats teeth to short, as bleeding and pain may occur for your rat.
  • Be aware when trimming your rats teeth, the tooth shards will go flying possibly into your face -so watch out! :) If the shards go into the ratties mouth try to get them to spit them out.
    Using a small animal nail trimmer, trim off the tips of the teeth -try to make them even and not jagged, but if you can't get them completely straight, don't worry about it as they should be able to grind them down by themselves.
    Teeth trimming can be a two person job, if you have never done it before, you may need one person to hold the rat's body and arms still, while the other person holds the rats mouth open and tries to trim the teeth.
    It is best to try to trim teeth, right after the rat wakes up, rather then when they are running around and fully awake. If they are groggy this will give you a few extra minutes of time before they start fighting you off. If the rat won't allow you to trim their teeth all at one time or are fighting you off, then let the rat go and try again in a little while after they settle down.
  • If you notice your rats teeth becoming overgrown and long, try to give them lots of bones, wood and hard foods to chew on to try to help file the teeth down.
  • If a rats teeth are growing too fast and they are not naturally grinding them on their own, it is very important you get their teeth trimmed as soon as possible. If the teeth are left untrimmed they can overgrow into the rats upper or lower jaw, and can cause severe pain, abscesses and eventually could result in death.
  • When trimming rats teeth be aware the teeth themselves do not bleed however, if the teeth are wiggled enough by the root the gums can start bleeding.
  • On occasion when trying to trim the ratties teeth a tooth may fall out. Don't be to worried as the tooth will grow back. If they do loose a tooth however you may need to feed them soft food until the tooth regrows -such as applesauce, baby food and yogurt.
  • Rats teeth continually grow throughout their lives.
  • Be careful not to cut the rats lip, tongue or possible finger that may get in the way.
    *A few people have had success trimming rats teeth by taking an old sock and cutting a small hole in the end large enough to cover the rats teeth, then stick the rats teeth through the hole and start trimming, by using this method this also insures the rats tongue will be out of the way and safe.
    Rats can actually live a good long life if their teeth are properly trimmed and well managed even if they were born with a misaligned jaw or teeth.
    Be sure to keep up with the trimming if the rat has overgrown teeth, they grow fast and will grow right into their cheek or down their throat, which can be extremely painful and cause them to be unable to eat.
    *Lots of people are unable to trim rats teeth as they are squeamish about it, but remember the Rat has no nerves in their teeth and can not feel it, even if they squeak it is more then likely because you are holding them in place rather then that they are in pain. If you are unable to trim the ratties teeth on your own please find a Vet or a friend to help you, do not put it off, your rattie may suffer.
    *I have had 3 rats now who were born with misaligned teeth and needed teeth trimming every 3-5 days. (2 were siblings) It can be a tedious task but they lived long lives because they got the care they needed.

    Rat Baths:

  • Rats are fairly good about grooming themselves, most of the time they clean their hands and face very well, but the rest of them tends to get a little dirty, so bathing them from time to time is a good idea.
  • It is easier to see dirt build up on rats with white or light colored hair then it is on dark colored rats.
  • One rat can stay fairly clean, but when several rats live together their cage/house and their bodies can get dirty fairly quickly.
  • The more often you give your rats a bath, the more they get used to it.
  • Rats shouldn't be bathed to often as it can dry out their skin.
  • Some rats like to play in water, so dipping them under water on a hot day can help cool them off.
    Rinsing the rats tail or dunking their tail into cold water can also help to cool down an overheated rat.
  • Furry rats, especially males can get a greasy orange buildup on their skin and hair, sometimes caused by to much protein in their diets.
    Males, greasy orange hair and skin is often referred to as "Buck grease."
  • Some rats suffer from dry skin, which can be seen as red flaky type dandruff in the hair.
  • Hairless rats tend to turn orange (from pink) with grease build up. It can be a bit hard for them to keep themselves clean.
  • Hairless rats can suffer from dry skin, which looks like pealing/flaky skin. Shampooing them with "baby shampoo" can help moisten the skin, Baby shampoo also helps get rid of the grease build up but is not noticeable right away, sometimes it takes about 3 days for the build up to wipe away.
  • Some people have had good results treating rat's dry skin conditions by rubbing flax seed oil lightly on the rat or by mixing it with food.
  • Skin problems can also be related to a poor diet, or a sick rat.
  • When picking out a shampoo to use for your rats, as a general rule if it is safe for "Kittens" then it is safe for your rat.
    Also when picking out a shampoo try to get one that is safe to get near the eyes, as rats love to wiggle about in the bath and just to be on the safe side you want to be using a safe product.
  • "Seboloux Shampoo." is a dog shampoo that helps get rid of the orange grease build up & clean the rats. (*Seboloux is the only shampoo i have found that can almost eliminate all of the orange grease, most shampoo won't get any of it off.)(Seboloux is available at most vets with no prescription required.)
    "Seboloux Shampoo" is also a good product to use because it is safe to use on cuts and scrapes, such as cleaning bite wounds and breaking up scabs.
  • Some people wash rats in the bath tub, some people wash in the sink, some people wash with the water standing still some just run the water on the rat.
    (It's really up to you to find what your rat likes/tolerates best.)
  • Be careful not to get soap or water in the rats eyes, ears, mouth or nose.
  • Some rats like getting baths, while others will scratch you up with their nails, and jump frantically out of the sink, knocking anything surrounding the sink to the ground.
  • Some rats will also frantically poop while getting a bath so make sure they don't scramble in it or clog up the sink.
  • It is best to have the cleaning supplies ready before giving the rat a bath. (Get out the soap, towels and other supplies you may need.)
  • Rats love getting their hair fluffed up after a bath, either by fluffing the hair dry with a towel or using a blow dryer.
    (Some rats will not tolerate blow dryers, since they can be rather loud.)
  • Antibacterial liquid dish soap also works to get the orange grease out of the rats hair and skin, be careful not to get it in on around the ratties eyes.
  • Be aware that the orange or dirt may not appear to have all come off immediately after the bath. Usually the next day is when you notice just how clean your rattie looks after a bath. <
  • After giving a rattie a bath, usually the rat then needs to give himself his own bath.
    This is Rizzo styling his hair after a bath. :)

    *My bathing method:
    *I use Seboloux Shampoo on my rats with orange grease build up, and if the rats are just dirty with no grease build up then i use baby shampoo.
    I run water over the rat for just a few seconds to get them wet, then i lather the soap on the rat and let the rat sit on my lap while i continuously lather the soap, i then get the water to lukewarm (Having the water the right temperature is very important, having the water too hot or cold will make the rat uncomfortable and try to get away more.) Then i hold the rat under the running water in the sink and rinse them thoroughly clean. I also try to clean as much of the dead skin and grime off of the rats tail as i can. Then i wrap them up in a towel and dry/fluff up their hair. Then i let the rat fix their own hair and then on occasion i brush their hair with a small doll brush.
    Rat tail info and cleaning tips:
  • Rats tails are not supposed to be scaly, dirty and rough looking.
  • Rat tails are supposed to be smooth and clean!
  • Some rats have long tails which are longer then their bodies, while some rats have short tails that are not as long as their bodies.
  • Some rats have very thick wide tails, while others have small thin tails.
  • Remember rats drag their tails behind them so dirt, urine, food and other messy things can get all over the rats tail, so cleaning the rats tail frequently is necessary.
  • Rats sweat and regulate their temperature through their tails, so a dirty tail is not good for them and can cause them to get cold or hot more frequently if not properly cleaned.
  • Try to wash the rats tail lightly and not be to rough, Sometimes the tail can be very stubborn about coming clean.
  • To help clean the rats tail more easily, i have found if you lather the soap on the tail and let it sit for a few minutes and then proceed to clean it, the grime comes off a little easier.
  • You can use a washcloth, toothbrush or scrub brush to try to scrub the rat tail clean.
  • Don't be overly worried about trying to get the rats completely clean, just a light cleaning is perfectly fine.
  • Don't be very rough when cleaning the rats tail, rats have hairs on their tails which can hurt when pulled.
  • Try washing their tails upwards towards their bodies to help remove the dead scales most effectively. (But be careful, they have sensitive tails.)
  • It is important to keep your rats tails clean as small abscesses or puss filled small red bumps can form from being uncleanly or from a hair getting pulled or a hair follicle infected with grime.
  • If you have fingernails you can use those to gently pull off the dead skin from the tail as well.

    New Rat Introductions:

  • In most cases their is always an alpha rat, where one rat is the leader/boss, so if the leader rat doesn't like a new rat, the other rats may follow the behavior.
  • When introducing a new rat or a rat dies this can upset the whole rank scale as there is almost always a leader and the rest of the rats fall into rank under them. When introducing a new rats the rank is upset and everyone needs to find just where they fall into the new rank.
  • Males are a lot more tricky to introduce then Females, usually as a general rule Females accept any new rattie and there usually isn't any problems when introducing a new rattie into a bunch.
  • When introducing rats, Males especially it is advised to Clean the cage top to bottom and sterilize it. It is best to take out all the houses, hammocks, dishes, toys etc and make sure they are clean and don't smell like any particular rat. Then put all the toys and hammocks and dishes back in the cage but arranged differently, this way the cage is new to the resident rattie and also the new rat. This way no one has scent marked anything in the cage and it is new to both rats.
  • If the cage cage is to small it is more likely rattie may fight.
  • It is much easier to introduce young ratties then it is to introduce older rats. Young rats tend to want friends to play with, while older established ratties tend to just want to be left alone.
  • Some rats will refuse to get along, especially if they both have alpha rat personalities.
  • It is best to introduce new rats slowly. Put them together for only a few minutes and see what happens. Most commonly the rats will sniff each other from head to toe for a few minutes. If either of the rats become aggressive, or their hair stands up or if they start to squeak, separate them, and try again later.
  • Some rats will fight and hurt each other every time they see each other, so it is best to make sure that they only see each other when monitored very, very closely or if they are never allowed to see each other.
  • If the rats become aggressive and start to fight, separate them immediately as one or both may become injured. When separating them use a towel or glove if possible so you do not get bit.
  • You should try to make rat boundaries of which rats will go where and in what parts of the house they can play in, if two rats don't get along, try to find a way to keep them separated but still can let them both out to play.
    (Example, one rat lives in the living room -his enemy so to speak lives in the bedroom. )
  • If you have cage rats that fight, house them in separate cages, keep your rats in cages on opposite sides of the room and don't bring them out at the same time.
  • You can try to slowly introduce rats to one another who don't seem to like each other much at first and eventually maybe they will become friends but from my experience, day one is the make or break day. If they get along on day one things look good, if they hate each other on day one, things don't look so good for a friendly future between them.
  • Some new rats into the home can appear to have total personality changes once they get comfortable in their new environment.
    (Example: they act shy and scared for the first week or so, then all of a sudden turn into a outgoing friendly rat)
  • Occasionally rats who don't like each other will tolerate rats they do not like for a very short periods before they realize, "Wait, i don't like this guy" and bite the other rats, squeak or get big hair.
  • Pregnant female rats should not be introduced to new rats, they might become aggressive.
  • Pregnant female rats may also become aggressive to their cage mates during pregnancy -if this happens you may need to house the pregnant mom separately.

    Rat Fights:

    Rats love to play with each other, but occasionally the playfulness can turn into a fight and can get out of hand.
    NEVER stick your hand in to break up rat fights, you may get bit or injured. (I have many of scars to prove this!)
    A few things to try when trying to discourage a rat from chewing or fighting is:
  • Snap your fingers
  • Squeak loudly
  • Say "No" very sternly
  • Pat them on the head or rump
  • Spray the rats with a water bottle or throw water on them.
    You can also try separating fighting rats by wearing thick gloves or trying to cover/separate them with a towel or pillow and then scooping them away from the other rats involved.
    Rats can bite very hard, a Rats teeth are actually stronger then an alligators and they can bite through Steel.
    Be sure to take care of any injuries ASAP. (Yours or the rats)
    Clean all rat wounds with wound cleaning solution such as Nolvasan solution/Chlorehexadine, salt water or saline solution. Hydrogen peroxide can be used but it dries out wounds so if using it, it is best to dilute it with a tiny bit of water and then rinse thoroughly after disinfecting.
    Keep glue out of the ratties reach and hold the rat until glue is dry.
    Super glue can be used to seal up wounds. Apply glue to one side of the wound and press the skin together.
    If your rat loses a hair patch in a fight, it will more then likely grow back if you clean the wound regularly.
    If your rat is seriously injured in a fight, please take them to a Vet immediately.
    Some rats get along fine and then for unknown reasons they get upset and will start squeaking at each other and get big hair, i wouldn't be overly concerned if your rats get into some occasional roughhousing, it is usually a fight over food or territory.
    Some rats with conflicting attitudes will never get along, and should never be left together.
    Most commonly rats will end up fighting over food or sleeping areas, so make sure you pass out snacks and have enough places to hide for everyone.
    If a rat fight occurs and their is blood in the cage or area be sure to clean it up right away as it can attack flies and mites.


    If you are getting your first pet rats quarantine is not necessary -since there are no other rats presently in the home.
    If you already have rats in your home, then there are many things you should be aware of, such as some illnesses and diseases can be transferred from your rats to the new rats, or from the new rats to your rats.
    The first thing is to know your pets, make sure they are not sick or ill if you are planning on bringing more rats into your home.
    If any of your rats have pneumonia -pneumonia can be transferred from rat to rat.
    Be aware of mites, fleas, lice or other small bugs that could be hiding away on your new or old rats, they can be transferred from rat to rat.
    Know where you are getting your rats from, the best place to get rats from is a breeder, most breeders have all their animals quarantined before bringing them into the home and before selling them to the public. Acquiring rats from a breeder is usually safer then if acquiring rats at a pet store. If acquiring your rats from a breeder who has already quarantined the rats, it is up to you if you would like to quarantine the rats at your home again or not. Different rats can be susceptible or immune to different illnesses.
    If you are acquiring your rats from a breeder that also does rescues the risks can be higher, as rescues usually come from bad, unhealthy situations, make sure you have a thorough conversation with the breeder and ask about their quarantining rules, how long the animal has been in their care, if the animal has been checked and/or treated by a vet, and if they know any background or parents history about the animal.
    To avoid your animals from becoming sick from interacting with other animals -do not bring your rats with you to a pet store. They could catch an illness if they interact with the other animals in the store.
    If bringing your rat to the vet, make sure the rat is properly secured in some type of small animal carrier -the rat could get loose, the vet could have other predatory animals at the location and since a Vet is a prime location for sick animals, keeping your rat in a carrier will help prevent contact with germs that may be on the counters or floors.
    Do not bring your rats to visit a friends house who also has rats, if they have gotten new rats within a minimum of 2 weeks.
    There are a lot of rat owners out there that are very terrified of diseases and are persistent about quarantining your new rats in a separate location and air space, it is better to be safe then sorry if possible, but understandably not everyone has the luxury of time, money and space to quarantine at another location.
    Different people use different precautions when it comes to quarantining -it all really depends on a persons personal preference.
    Quarantining guidelines can be anywhere from 2 weeks to 4 weeks.
    If you are an average pet owner quarantining for 2 weeks should be efficient enough, for breeder's and rescue organizations the quarantine period should be longer.
    First know where your new rat is coming from, if it is in a cage with other sick, injured or ill rats quarantining is especially important to ensure the health of all of your rats.
    Pet store rats are more prone to having diseases, as a lot of pet stores do not properly care for their animals or buy from bad distributors, resulting in poor health and a lowered immune system.
    Rats from a feeder bin are also more likely to have health conditions as most of them are bred just for food purposes and are not bred for good health, long life or temperament.
    When picking out a new rat, look over the rat carefully, watch for signs of aggression, wounds, sneezing or other health problems.
    When bringing a new rat into the home i advise giving the rat a bath to wash off all the old smells, of past cage mates, bedding, litter and food. This also gives you a very good opportunity to thoroughly look over the rat to see any cuts, lumps or problems you may not have noticed earlier.
    Keep the new rat if possible on a separate level of the house. If the house does not have multiple levels keep the quarantined rats in a separate room, preferably a room with a door, to ensure the room can be sealed off from the rest of the house.
    Be sure to wash your hands thoroughly after handling all of your rats/animals.
    Do not keep fans or humidifiers running in a quarantine room.
    When cleaning cages in a quarantine cage or room, make sure to bag all of the used bedding securely in a bag and bring it outside as quick as possible.
    Quarantining for Mycoplasma reasons is not necessary.
    Almost all rats are infected with Mycoplasma, so if a rat is having a Myco flair up there is no reason to separate them from other rats, separating them could cause them more stress which could compromise their ability to fight off the infection. Rats with the similar genes or living conditions can have flair ups at the same time, due to poor lung function or low immune systems.
    If a rat in your bunch has pneumonia, you might want to consider quarantining the ill rat. Pneumonia is transferable from rat to rat. The rats can be housed in the same room from each other if on opposite sides of the room, or not within sneezing distance. Pneumonia is usually transferred by rats sneezing on each other. After the rat with pneumonia has started being treated with antibiotics the rat can usually go back in with its other cage mates -ask your vet how many days you should wait until putting the ill rat back in with the others. Different medications effect rats at different rates, so the time frame of the pneumonia being contagious can vary.

    Sendai & SDA:

    Diseases like SDA & Sendai are airborne illnesses which can be transmitted through the air. The diseases being transmitted through the air is somewhat uncommon, most commonly rats are infected by petting an infected rat, then not washing your hands and petting another rat.
    The bacteria from these diseases is stored in mucus glands such as your nose and behind your eyes.
    The disease can be transferred if you are near an infected rat and then happen to sneeze near another rat.
    SDA & Sendai can be life threatening. Most healthy adult rats can pull through, however babies, ill animals or elder rats have trouble fighting off these diseases. Both diseases cause the rats immune system to weaken, this allows other diseases to creep up quickly and may result in the animals death.
    SDA & Sendai by themselves are usually not the direct cause of death, but they lower the immune system allowing other illnesses, such as a Myco flair up or pneumonia to attack furiously -which can result in death.
    Sendai is detectable is rats for only 6 days after infected. SDA is detectable for 9 days after infected. After this amount of time they are considered to no longer be contagious -however the germs in their cage, on their houses, hammocks, toys, food dishes and water bottles -needs to be cleaned thoroughly, cleaned with bleach and then cleaned again, to ensure that the disease remnants are no longer in the house.
    Once a rat has been infected with SDA or Sendai it is said they are then immune to that particular strain of the virus, however they still can be infected again if the strain of the disease is different.
    If you happen to get a case of Sendai or SDA, you must quarantine the whole house, not allowing any animals to come in or leave the house, for at least a month -to ensure the disease is no longer present. You also need to clean and disinfect anything and everything the rats have had contact with.
    The Sendai virus is most commonly found in Pigs (Not Guinea pigs).
    If you have been around pigs or have been petting one -please change your clothes and wash your hands thoroughly before handling or interacting with your rats.
    It is also recommended that you clean out your nasal passages -to ensure no bacteria is in there that can be transmitted to your rats. (Example: blowing your nose.)

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    The knowledge and information on all of my rat related pages is based on personal experience or is general information i have collected from other rat owners and may not be true in all cases.
    Please consult a Vet when and if necessary or possible to ensure your rat receives the best care.
    I also want to point out that my pages are to help fellow pet rat owners and the information contained on these pages does not necessarily relate to a breeder's views.

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