Rat FAQ
   
 

How long do rats live?

The average life span of pet rats is 2 - 3 years. This is only a rough average. Some die younger, and a rare few make it past 3. Of course all of this varies depending on breeding, diet, health and environment.

My rat appears to be bleeding from the nose and eyes. What's wrong?

What you are seeing is most likely a red tinged secretion called porphyrin, not blood. It comes from the Harderian gland and the secretion appears around the rat's eyes and nose. It can be an indication that your rat is sick or stressed, however a little crusting around the nose and eyes occasionally is normal. When in doubt, a vet visit is in order.

Are Pine and Cedar shavings ok for my rats?

Pine and cedar are not safe bedding for your rats. Both contain phenols, which can be harmful to the rat's delicate respiratory system. It also does long term damage to the liver. Unfortunately pine and cedar are very popular in pet stores. However, do NOT use them. If you can, use aspen shavings, or paper based cat littler such as Breeders Choice. Cloth and toilet paper or paper towels can also be used.

What is bruxing and boggling?

A rat bruxes by grinding its teeth together. It usually does this when it's content, much like a cat purring; however it can occur when it's upset.

Boggling usually accompanies bruxing. The rat's eyes will bulge in and out in a fast motion, and is quite startling to see. A boggling rat usually means a blissed out rat.

Is chocolate poisonous to rats?

Unlike dogs, chocolate isn't poisonous to rats. Although it's safe, it's still high in sugar and fat with no nutritional value, so should only be given as a treat occasionally.

My rat just had babies. Will the mother eat the babies if I handle them?

No, mother rats will not eat or reject the babies if you handle them. It's very important for their socialisation that you handle the baby rats from a very young age on a daily basis. If the mum is aggressive or over protective of the babies, just remove her first before picking up the baby rats.

At what age can a female rat become pregnant?

Females are prolific breeders and can become pregnant at just 5 weeks of age, however they really should not be bred until at least 4 months of age. Female rats can also become pregnant within 24 hours of given birth. While it's physically possible, it's not healthy for the mum, the nursing babies, or the new babies growing inside mum.

I've heard carbonated beverages can be fatal to rats. Is this true?

No. While rats can't burp, your rat getting into your soda won't kill it. It may cause a bit of discomfort for the rat, but it certainly isn't fatal.

My rat occasionally jerks, like he has hiccups. What is it?

It's actually exactly that. Hiccups! Just like you and me, rats occasionally hiccup.

Can I keep my rat in an outside cage?

Rats are extremely sensitive to both hot and cold and should never be kept outside. Pet rats are quite different from their wild ancestors, and just one night outside on a cold night can cause severe pneumonia or even death.

I just found a lump on my rat. What is it, and can it be treated?

Unfortunately rats are prone to tumors as they age, especially females. Tumors in rats are usually benign and can be surgically removed. Your vet will be able to tell you if this is possible. If your rat is over 2, surgery may not be the best option as surgery and anaesthetic can be quite rough on older rats, and the risk to your rat starts to increase. If you don't opt for removal, rats can live with benign tumors for several months, however it does eventually take it's toll on your rat as the tumor increases in size. Abscesses are also common in rats, and can be treated with a round of antibiotics and/or lancing the abscess.

My rat has a slight wheeze when he breathes, and has been sneezing. Does he have a cold?

Rats don't get colds. The most common cause of respiratory illness is an infection, which usually requires a course of antibiotics. Other causes could be allergies or dusty bedding. Try to eliminate possible external causes such as dusty bedding or air freshners. If he doesn't improve or gets worse, a vet visit is recommended.

I noticed last night my female rat was vibrating, she'd jump when I touched her, and her ears would wiggle. Is she ok?

She's fine. Females go in to heat every 3 to 4 days, and one of the most common signs is vibrating, wiggling ears, and jumping when touched. Not all females show visible signs everytime when they go into heat, but many do.

My male rat has what looks like orange dandruff. How do I get rid of it?

Unneutered males are prone to buck grease, an oily orange skin discharge usually caused by an overproduction of testosterone. An increase in more omega-3 fatty acids in their diet usually helps. Give them flaxseed oil or olive oil on wheat bread a 2 - 3 times a week. This not only reduces the buck grease, but also improves the condition of their coat, making it softer and shinier.

Can two male rats live together that aren't related?

Yes. Rats are social animals, and male rats are no exception. Males will get on with other males, related or not. It's also possible to introduce new males to existing males. Very occasionally a rat that is used to living alone or is set in his ways will not be receptive to new rats, but that's rare.

 

   



 
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