Monday, July 6, 2009

Our newest furry family members...squimish beware...

It's the Rattie invasion :)

Well, it seems the animal loving gene has been passed down another generation to the twins. They had been begging for a little pet to love and care for and after much research and discussion, we decided that domestic rats were the way to go.

Yes, some people are freaked out by rats - or just by their tails, even...but people that have domestic rats as pets just rave about them. They are the most intelligent of the small animals, are trainable (ours are already litter box trained with poops), affectionate and interactive. They are also supposed to be pretty good for allergy sufferers so we bit the big one and took the plunge.

First of all, I was shocked - yes shocked - at how hard it is to purchase a fancy rat from a breeder. Believe it or not, there are waiting lists, screening processes, and even a contract to sign saying that you will not breed your rat and if it doesn't work out, you will contact the breeder to take the rat, rather than take it to the shelter. There are rules for introducing another rat to the colony (even quarantining the new rat for 3 weeks to 3 months beforehand to be sure it doesn't have any illness to pass on to the rest)...I hit many a brick wall trying to find two babies that would be ready to be adopted out soon.

Well, lucky for us, we met a wonderful young breeder in Oceanside who had two baby males who were looking for a home in two weeks. TWO WEEKS?!?! Oh, the wait was painful for the girls, but I was in a panic to secure everything and get my rattie knowledge up to speed before the big day.

Here is a shot of the boys (though this might not really be them - there were six males in the litter with normal ears - versus 'dumbo' ears which are set differently and more exotic and we were told when all the babies look alike, she just lets people pick them out on adoption day), but we put our names on these two pictures...two male sable Burmese ratties...

The girls named them "Rudy" and "Chockey"

Then I ordered the cage, which arrived bent - ugh - we straightened it best as possible and then spent two days putting it together...I was grumbling at the two posters who claimed it took them a mere 30 minutes to set up. Granted it, I did put one side on wrong and poor Tony had to spend a couple of hours undoing my clamps before reassembling...but...

The girls helped and then played in it while we were setting up shop.

They had fun playing in the newspaper shredding that came with the cage. They were birds sitting in their nests, pregnant birds sitting on nests and even birds on the move...(lower picture)...I went to the crafting store and bought fleece and cut and stitched pieces to line their cage with...

At long last, the ratties turned five weeks (adoptable age) and the day finally arrived! We got in the car and headed down to Oceanside, near San Diego...(a 2.5 hour venture each way)...the campers were excited :)

but first, we had to stop at a feed store to pick up special food and bedding...(did I not mention how much work went into this simple endeavor - LOL!)

Another hour and a half later, we arrived at the park to pick up our baby the girls are with Dru, the breeder and some of her adoptees, separated by gender - females can get pregnant as early as 5 weeks of age, believe it or not!...

The girls fell in love with these two hairless females. They were very sweet and looked like little old wrinkly gremlins to me :)

Eventually, we got the boys home and have been bonding with them. The males are supposed to get twice as big as the females and slow down as they age, so they will be more snuggly. However, they do smell more and can urine mark territory so the cage cleaning has been kind of a pain. But we adore them. They are really good with the girls and one of them is very mellow and loves to be held and massaged to sleep in their are some shots of the past two weeks. They are now 7 weeks old and growing fast!

That's the "comfy chair" pose that the girls do with them. The mellow rattie just sits there like that. It's pretty cute. Anyway, animal science hands-on :)

This summer, the girls are learning all about animals - their choice and today, they helped me clean the cage for the first time and bathe the ratties. They have been learning how to handle them and how to be gentle and calm around little critters. And our doggie has done so well with the little fellas. He doesn't seem to mind them at all...


  1. We had pet rats for a couple of years! I took them in "temporarily" when someone was getting rid of them and going to let them go at the park. I thought for sure I'd find someone to take them, but alas, they lived out their lives here, in a big cage in our garage (our terriers wanted to eat them). They were sweet, smart, cute, and great little pets. We were sad to lose them. Have fun with your new friends!

  2. These guys are adorable!!!! We have two large males but never got to enjoy the baby stage because they were "shelter rats" (someone naughty didn't follow directions LOL). The pictures you took are so sweet! I especially love the last picture with the rat in your daughter's hand.

  3. That is wonderful that there are fellow rattie owners out there. The baby stage is fun, but they are also a lot more active. I'm yearning for the time when they slow down so I can just hold them like little lap dogs for hours on end :) I am so loving them, though. We decided we are going to adopt two more next week. One of them only has one eye and he's going to be totally pampered :) Thanks for sharing your experiences!!!