Thursday, January 29, 2009

Do Rats Have Personalities?

These four boys came to me last year from Cathe. I wanted them to come live with Ben as he was alone. They are almost identical in every way. Their markings are quite simliar to each other. Except for their personalities that is.

Rats have completely unique personalities that once they make themselves known to you makes it so easy for you to be able to tell your rats apart from each other.
Flick is the goofy boy. Always the first one at the door and loves to hand wrestle.

Ralphie is the daring one of the group and likes to be in charge.

Harvey has a little notch in his ear and seems to love me the least openly.

Tucker is more reserved than the rest and usually comes to see me after his brothers have moved away.

Ben is a bit older and and isn't as prone to spontaneous play as the rest. He tries so hard to keep his composure but has been known to leap about with utter abandonment.

So you see, rats have completely distinct personalities.

Why Can't I Use Pine Bedding - The Ugly Truth

There is strong scientific evidence that pine and cedar shavings are harmful to the health of rodents. Both of these beddings give off smells (phenols) that are toxic. The phenols, which give the shavings their scent, are the reason that cedar repels fleas and moths and why pine-oil is the major ingredient in Pine-sol brand disinfectant. When animals are exposed to softwood shavings the phenols are absorbed through the respiratory tract and enter the blood.

Cedar and pine shavings are often recommended because their pleasant scent masks animal smells and repels skin parasites. However there are so many safer alternatives to use that are equally as effective.

Pine and cedar shavings are often defended with the claim that customers are not forced to buy them. However, most small animal owners are not aware of the toxins in pine and cedar shavings. They assume that if a product is offered for sale, it must be safe. But just because pine and cedar shavings have been traditional and popular beddings does not mean they are safe.

Studies have shown that exposure to the phenols in cedar and pine (the chemical that makes them smell nice) can cause respiratory difficulty, as well as liver and kidney damage. A list of published articles is available. With so many better, safer products on the market, there is no longer any reason to use these soft wood shavings as bedding.

Some alternatives are listed below.

Keep in mind, also, that clumping and clay-based kitty litters are not healthy. Clay-based litters are very dusty, and can cause problems with the rat's delicate respiratory system. Clumping litters can cause problems if ingested. It's important to remember that cats only visit their litter box to do their business. Rats live in their litter.

Paper-based cat litters are fine, and a few of them are included in the list below.

• Care Fresh reclaimed paper pulp product

• Bio-Flush paper-based, contains baking soda .

• Housekeeper's Eco-Bedding paper-based, like crinkled paper bags.

• Aspen shavings or pellets Available from many sources

• Critter Country grass fiber pellets Moutain Meadows Pet

• Yesterday's News recycled paper product

• EZ-FLUSH paper-based, has odor control compound .

• Cell Sorb Plus paper-based Fangman Specialties

• Sani-Chips heat-treated aspen pellets PJ Murphy Forest Products

• Alfalfa pellets a.k.a. rabbit food; green pellets Rats can't digest it, so they won't eat it. Readily available from many sources

• Corn Cob - It is dust free, odor free, and absorbent, but not too much so. It can absorb more moisture longer than other beddings without getting damp and mushy.

• Aspen - This one is the best choice of all the wood shaving types of beddings. It doesn't have any odor and it is soft, and spreads and covers easily. It is very absorbent, maybe too much so. It gets soggy easily and takes on ammonia smells very quickly.


Cages should be cleaned at least once a week in a home setting. Depending on the size of the cage, ventilation, and number of rats, cages may need to be cleaned more or less frequently. A rat cage should never smell, as they are very clean animals. If the cage smells, it is because it is long overdue for a cleaning.

Rat urine creates ammonia fumes, so a dirty cage leads to an unhealthy build up of ammonia.

Though cages can be cleaned with a commercial pet cage cleaner, sometimes the fumes from these types of products can cause respiratory problems. It is recommended to clean the cage with warm water and a mild soap, rinsing thoroughly.

A very diluted bleach solution is also acceptable. Household cleaners, such as Windex, Fantastik, etc., should never be used due to harmful fumes.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Homemade Hammock

Rats love to lie around in hammocks. You can buy them or you can make them for free! These hammocks are fun because the rats can either lie in them or on top of them. First, take an old pair of jeans, the kind you have lying around that you will never ever wear again. Then, cut a small hammock size piece from the leg. Make 4 slits in the top of the hammock, one for each corner. Hang it from the top of the cage with yarn or old shower hooks if you have them. Last, add rats!

You may have noticed that giant hole in the middle is not part of the instructions. It's probably important to mention rats tend to improvise a bit if you don't get it just the way they want it! It should also be noted after this process has taken place you will need to make another one, repeat above instructions.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Please Pardon Our Dust

While we get our brand new blog sorted out there are bound to be some dust particles in the air so bear with us while we get settled in. We promise to have lots more to come.
Aren't we adorable though?