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Category Archives: Pet Rats

Sisi and Molly are sharing and tearing a mini muffin. Harley and Mulan look cute in front. At the back, Cinnamonkey's bum. Somehow in there: Felix and Milka.

Sisi and Molly are sharing and tearing a mini muffin. Harley and Mulan look cute in front. At the back, Cinnamonkey’s bum. Somehow in there: Felix and Milka.

 

Our ratties’ 1st birthday! And they celebrated with lots of #rattie #treats:

Mini fruit skewers, mini bruschetta, mini cupcakes, mini biscuits, mini 85% dark chocolate splinters: Our ratties turn 1! :)

Mini fruit skewers, mini bruschetta, mini cupcakes, mini biscuits, mini 85% dark chocolate splinters: Our ratties turn 1! 🙂

 

Watch rattie Mommy enjoy her fruit skewer:

 

And a cupcake on top of it:

 

 

Yoshi is undeterred and only focusses on licking the yoghurt off the cupake:

 

They came, they saw, they ate:

The empty buffet after the ratties are done with it.

The empty buffet after the ratties are done with it.

 

Like after any good party, the ratties pass out all cuddled up:

After the feast, the ratties are cuddling up to sleep.

After the feast, the ratties are cuddling up to sleep.

 

We can conclude: The ratties had a great 1st Birthday Party! 🙂

 

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Darn, my pet's drinking bottle has algae growing inside, and I can't even reach the rim to clean it!

Darn, my pet’s drinking bottle has algae growing inside, and I can’t even reach the rim to clean it!

 

In the 20+ years that I had pet rats I never had problems with algae in the ratties’ drinking bottle.

 

Then I heard from one of my #RattieSitting friends that she has to buy a new one, because hers has turned all green.

 

Weirdly enough, not too long after, also my pet water bottles showed signs of algae infestation.

 

Maybe something has changed to the Cape Town’s drinking water with the drought crisis?

 

Fortunately buying a new water dispenser is not necessary:

 

How to get rid of algae in your pet’s water dispenser

 

Simply soak the dish or bottle in 100% white vinegar.

 

Around the internet you’ll find a vinegar-water solution recommended at a ratio of 1 to 1. White vinegar also works well when diluted. Caution is advised when handling even food-grade vinegar as it is an acid.

 

But I find rinsing my rattie’s water bottle with pure white vinegar and let it soak for a while, does the trick: The algae simply disappears.

 

Wash the drinking bottle extensively to make sure all traces of algae and white vinegar are gone.

 

White vinegar is not bad for pet rats, apple cider vinegar is even good for them, but of course: only in a very diluted form. So don’t worry if the water bottle still smells of vinegar, a tiny bit of it won’t do any harm.

 

Of course, taking the time to clean your pet’s drinking bottle thoroughly means you need at least two. A good practice tip is anyway to provide two water bottles – just in case one fails – to make sure your pets always have access to water, especially in hot weather. This also gives you the chance to alternate between the two bottles when a proper clean is needed.

 

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Extreme chill-out: When we took our pet rats on holiday with us to Beaverlac and it got hot, this is the way our ratties relaxed: They hooked their teeth into the cage bars to literally hang.

Rattie version of putting your feet up: Our pet rat hooks her teeth on.

Rattie version of putting your feet up: Our rat hooks her teeth on.

 

Rats don’t sweat and don’t pant. The only way for them to release heat is through their tail.

In the wild they might stay in a burrow throughout the day to avoid the heat. But in your pet rat cage it could get pretty hot.

 

10 Tips how to protect your pet rat from overheating

 

– Keep the air cool but not draughty

Of course, the best way to keep your rat cool is to keep them in a cool environment. Place their cage in a cool spot and remove all blankets. However, because rats are prone to respiratory illnesses, don’t put them in a draughty spot. If there is a draught, place a wet blanket over the cage. It protects against the breeze and cools the air down.

 

– Build a rattie aircon

Simply put a small bowl of ice cubes on top of the pet rat cage and cover with a larger bowl. This will guide the cool air into your ratoots’ cage and keep them chilled.

 

– Remove bedding and newspapers

To protect pet rat’s feet it’s a good idea to put down a solid surface on the cage floor. When it’s hot however, remove it. Your ratties will enjoy lying flat down on the cage wire mesh as it allows them to release heat 360 degrees all surround.

 

– Place a container filled with ice in the cage

This can be a frozen water bottle or a flat ice cream tub filled with ice cubes. Anything that cools down the rattie cage, as long as it’s safe and non-toxic in case the rats nibble on it.

 

– Place cool surfaces in their cage

Tiles, stoneware or terracotta pots are naturally cool materials and can help absorb the heat from your pet rat’s body.

 

– Feed them ice cube treats

Some rats really like ice cubes. Mix in a bit of juice and turn them into ice popsicle treats your ratties won’t be able to resist.

 

– Feed them frozen food

Feed them fresh veggies, salad and fruits straight out of the fridge. Prepare some frozen food mix and serve it right out of the freezer. A fun game for pet rats is fishing frozen peas out of a water bowl, perfect entertainment in hot weather.

 

– Freeze their bedding

Freezing the rattie bedding is a great way to kill mites. It also helps your rats cool down when it’s hot.

 

– Give them a bath

Spritz them with mist, rinse them under the tap or dunk them into water up to their necks. A cool bath will provide instant relief from overheating. If your pet rat really doesn’t like water, make at least sure their tail gets wet to cool down.

 

– Place a bath in their cage

Your ratties might seek a refreshing bath and welcome a bowl of water to use for washing. Make sure it sits safe and the surrounds can handle a bit of splish splash.

 

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Scabs in your pet rat's fur can indicate a mite infestation.

Scabs in your pet rat’s fur can indicate a mite infestation.

 

Most parasites you find in your pet’s fur are only there because of a weak immune system.

Mites for example are always around, in bedding, on skin, in hair. It is only when the natural defence mechanisms of your pet are not strong enough to fight them off that you need to step in.

A weak immune system due to illness, malnutrition or old age is an invitation for mites to multiply. Once they’re taking over, it becomes a hassle for your pet to get rid of them.

 

There is medicine you can administer that kills off all parasites in general:

Ivermectin, which mites could be resistant to however, and

Revolution, which is normally for cats.

 

I try to avoid medicine as far as possible, so here is an alternative method:

 

How to get rid of mice or lice in a natural way

 

  1. Groom your pet

The mites have taken over and your pet is struggling keeping these buggers at bay.

Help them by grooming them with a small comb. You will soon notice that you’re combing out small particles, each one of them is a relief to your pet.

 

  1. Douse the affected areas with olive oil

I use high quality extra virgin olive oil and don’t dilute it.

Whatever oil is in excess, your pet can lick off and it’s even good for them: Virgin oil has proven to have a life-extending effect in rats.

 

Depending on severity you can give a pet rat an olive oil bath.

According to this story that can end up very messy.

But it seems drenching your pet rat in olive oil really does the trick, as this comment confirms.

 

Pouring pure olive oil on the affected areas should suffocate the mites and at the same time heal the scabs. Together with an immune-boosting diet, your pet should be able to fend off the invaders.

 

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Not the healthiest of treats – but then again, not much worse than your average breakfast cereal. Plus, modelling for a PortRATure photoshoot is quite exhausting and can be rewarded with a special treat. 😉

 

Accordingly Yoshi cannot believe his luck when he’s presented with a marie biscuit:

Rattie Yoshi is tentative: Biscuits don't just lie around like this!

Rattie Yoshi is tentative: Biscuits don’t just lie around like this!

 

He really looks like thinking: “Quick! Let me get this piece before anyone notices!”

"When there's a biscuit, grab it!"

“When there’s a biscuit, grab it!”

 

But of course, there’s nowhere to hide:

"I'll just munch it right here and now then."

“I’ll just munch it right here and now then.”

 

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Yoshi and Sybil are bosom buddies.

Yoshi and Sybil are bosom buddies.

 

This friendship forged already long before the #RattieSitting:

 

Apparently these two met at work!

Yes, some are lucky enough to take their pets to work, even when the pet turns out to be a rat. 😉

 

Obviously Yoshi was totally smitten by gorgeous Sybil and because they get along so well, they got to meet for playdates at work.

 

While #RatSitting they got 2 weeks of that, just play play play, adventure and mischief and all: Because it was these two who’d go roaming about.

 

If you let your pet rats roam freely it’s important you ratproof your home. But you can only do so much, best is to keep your ratties in an enclosed and safe space.

 

So while all the other ratoots were mostly content hanging about rat city alone, making me feel at ease managing 17 ratties, here we have two adolescents who venture further. That calls for trouble!

 

And of course Sybil managed to chomp a piece out of our monitor cable – just a tiny bit, nothing to worry about; but she did give it a try.

And of course Yoshi was already on the top of the stairs – greeting me friendly, what a lovely welcome; but he did go quite far.

 

Still the cuteness of these two is just heart melting, and it is so lovely to see how they care about each other.

Rats are so gentle, they have so much love to give.

And so much entertainment to offer, it never gets boring with these critters, because one thing is sure:

Rats make great pets! 🙂

 

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The dynamics of rat clans are very sophisticated and quite impressive. Impressive because if even little rodent animals like rats can learn to live together in unity, why can’t we.

 

When new recruits arrive, the previously settled roles within the rattie bunch are shaken up and maybe even up for grabs, so might some of the more opportunistic pet rats think.

 

Luckily, my ratties have gotten so used to visitors, they are super relaxed about sharing their territory. Somehow that makes their home a neutral zone: It is often their cage everybody flocks to and shares a meal or some cuddles.

 

But the visiting ratties are coming in their own cage, with their own smells, so they indeed have a home away from home.
Rats are super sensitive to smells, and they mark each other and everything in between to reconfirm belonging to one clan. I think it’s important for rats to be able to go back to their familiar home and not be completely uprooted when going for RattieSitting.

 

But of course that makes their cage equivalent to their territory.

 

My observation is that if there are many ratties, like for example Camilla’s 8, they are pretty relaxed about their space, as they are used to ratoots coming and going.
But if it’s only 2 pet rats, like Fendi and Cher, and they’re new to the whole ‘let’s meet other rats’ idea, they can turn a bit possessive over their space.

 

So when Mulan and Harley, two black hooded cutsie sisters, visited their lookalike Cher, she was not so impressed.

Mulan says hi to Cher, who however reacted in a territorial manner to these advances.

Mulan says hi to Cher, who however reacted in a territorial manner to these advances.

 

Whenever they encountered each other, there was some huffing and puffing going on, a rat’s way to indicate they are ready to fight for their right. The right for what is not always that clear, so I just kept on separating them when they came to close for comfort.

 

Rats can be very persistent, and Mulan and Harley kept on going back to Cher, but yet again, it wouldn’t go well.
I sometimes had to lock Mulan and Harley in one of the other cages, because they wouldn’t leave Cher alone.
They even managed to sneak into Cher and Fendi’s cage every now and then, and that was really a no-go zone for them, also Fendi agreed on that one.

 

However, outside of this specific Fendi and Cher cage area, everything was totally fine. They could eat, sleep and cuddle together, no problem.

 

So maybe there was hope that they could transfer the friendship’s locale.

 

And indeed: On the very last day of the RattieSitting Cher and Harley were one heart and one soul in Fendi and Cher’s travel cage.
Where they had stood upright, confronting each other, swaying in the attempt to dominate, they now sat side by side like good old pals. Some stretching, and then some more relaxing.

I couldn't believe my eyes: Cher and Harley in harmony side by side in Cher's travel cage. Forgotten are all territorial disputes.

I couldn’t believe my eyes: Cher and Harley in harmony side by side in Cher’s travel cage. Forgotten are all territorial disputes.

 

Even with 17 ratties from 4 different clans, they manage to achieve harmony eventually.

 

To me, this is the bliss of RattieSitting. I love watching these clever little munchkins, it’s better entertainment than TV.

 

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