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RattieSitting always confronts you with the unexpected:

What do I find as I clean the rattie cage? My nail file! 😮

 

One of the reasons why you must always keep your home ratproof and how pet rats force you to be neat and tidy.

It also shows that you need to empty out your rat cage carefully, you never know what you might find in the depths of the rattie den!

 

This time I’m caught by surprise that beautiful Skavin is also a #CleverRat and turns out to be a nail file thief!

#CleverRat: Skavin turns out to be a nail file thief! ;)

#CleverRat: Skavin turns out to be a nail file thief! Can you see the gnawing evidence? 😉

 

Understandably so: Rats’ teeth never stop growing, which causes them to brux and gives them the need to gnaw.

What better instrument to keep your ever growing teeth in check than a nail file!

I can imagine that simply carrying the nail file in their teeth gives every pet rat a tingle right up into their spine.

Clever little munchkins, these ratoos!

 

And while it might’ve been annoying not to have my nail file at hand, I can’t help but think that rats make great pets. 😊

 

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Rats make great pets.

 

But people have the weirdest prejudices against them, reinforced by hype creating click-bait media.

One stereotype against rats is that they are messy.

 

I’ve lived for over 20 years with pet rats, and find them really well organised.

From diligently even at an old age going to the toilet to tackling obstacles in team work, I’ve seen it all.

 

Still, at a first glance rats can look messy to the untrained eye.

But there’s always a deeper purpose behind the action of a rat.

 

Here for example we have the rattie food bowl – note the handmade touch – which is covered in newspaper strips.

Pretty neat: The ratties covered up their food for safekeeping.

Pretty neat: The ratties covered up their food for safekeeping.

 

There’s a good reason for it: Beneath it the rattie food is protected, against dust and dirt, against flies and bugs, against unwanted preying eyes, or who knows what – it’s a rats! world.

Because there’s nothing else they can use, they tear apart newspaper, bring it up to the bowl and place it carefully over the food, to cover it all.

 

In rattie world this is a neatly done job.

 

I think it says a lot about rats, that they care enough about the state of their food that they make a point to cover it up for the day for safe- and freshkeeping.

So no, rats are not messy. They just make do with what they’ve got.

 

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Tipsy is in good spirits, despite having lost her tail.

Tipsy is in good spirits, despite having lost her tail.

 

In the 20 odd years that I have owned pet rats, I have witnessed several times that a rat can lose their tail.

So be warned that this can happen to your rattie.

 

Rats are quick and nimble, but their tail can get easily caught.

Rats are tough little fellows, but don’t overestimate their tail: It can break!

 

Do not grab your rat by their tail: I’ve seen the skin rip off like in Robbie William’s “Rock DJ”.

 

Luckily rats are great healers and will take good care of any injuries.

But a rat’s tail is really important, for balance, and furthermore for heat release.

 

Always remember that rats are actually quite fragile little creatures.

 

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Peaches is so adorably cute. :)

Peaches is so adorably cute. 🙂

 

I’m happily #RattieSitting and decide to give a round of treats, which also gives me an opportunity to check up on everyone.

 

During the day pet rats sleep most of the time, so they’re all hidden away in their nests.

 

A #RattieTreat is a welcomed addition to a lazy sunny afternoon.

 

I portion the treats and place them in each cage. The ratties smell the new food right away, but some of them only slowly wake up, yawning and stretching their arms.

 

As one by one comes out to take their share, I watch and count: Peaches, where’s Peaches?

 

I look in every box, nest and hammock, which is now possible as they’re all empty. I can’t see Peaches. I look again.

 

A slight panic is starting to creep up as my mind races: When did I last see Peaches? When did I last open the cage? And: Hang on, wouldn’t she be close by anyhow?

 

So I call her: “Peaches!”

 

Behind me, inside the cage, a box rattles that I had forgotten about, it’s a flat cereal box, tucked away right beneath the hammock.

 

Out comes Peaches.

 

🙂

 

 

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Pet rat Rosie decides the quickest way is straight up the wall. ;-)

Pet rat Rosie decides the quickest way is straight up the wall. 😉

 

Pet rats are clever little munchkins and stubborn, too: There’s hardly a place they can’t get to, especially if they’ve set their mind to it.

A lot of my pet rats particularly like climbing up and sitting on top of the highest piece of furniture. The way to get there varies and can include all sorts of interesting stunts.

One option to get up is simply running up the wall, and as most furniture sits slightly away from the wall, the space in between makes this feat quite possible for rats.

 

One of the most enjoyable pastimes with pet rats is simply watching them:

Their acrobatic skills are impressive, their clever tricks to overcome hurdles inspirational, and their sheer will and determination are humbling.

Rats make great pets! 🙂

 

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It’s important to cover the wire mesh floors in the rattie cage with a solid surface to keep your pet rat’s feet healthy.

So how about bringing some freshness into the cage and providing a change of scenery?

#RattieTip: Cabbage leaves make for a great surface in rattie cages, and it's ok if the rascals nibble on it. :)

#RattieTip: Cabbage leaves make for a great surface in rattie cages, and it’s ok if the rascals nibble on it. 🙂

Cabbage leaves are fun to use: They work well as a surface and can also be nibbled on.

Just make sure you replace them regularly, before they start smelling like, well, cabbage. 🙂

 

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Wild rattie girl Mimi looks a bit dubious about this whole pet rat thing.

Wild rattie girl Mimi looks a bit dubious about this whole pet rat thing.

Today I couldn’t resist: I had to touch her.

What was supposed to be a gentle touch turned more into a poke, but she didn’t flinch or move. She just sits still like a statue.

As I moved on to stroke her back, she let it go until all of a sudden she turned, lifted her head and nipped me. It was not a bite, just a very well measured squeeze. It didn’t hurt, but it gave a good idea of the power behind it: Rats teeth are so sharp, they can grind through flesh in a flash.

Instead she chose to tell me when enough is enough. I just hadn’t regarded the warning signs.

A rat bite should not draw blood. They have such sensitive incisors they can feel when their teeth split skin and should stop beforehand.

Rats learn how to control their jaws as babies:
Bite inhibition is typically learned as part of juvenile play behaviors, when the animal is still in the company of its mother and siblings: by biting each other during play, the young animals learn that biting a companion too strongly leads to the abrupt termination of play activities.
(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bite_inhibition)
In case of rats, this is accompanied by a high pitched eek! of pain.

My experience is that the rat bite intensity increases according to the amount of times you disregard the warning signs.

But in general, pet rats should not bite. If they do, it can be an accident as in mistaking your finger for food or during play when it gets a bit rough or because of a slip of their teeth while grooming you.

You should then experience a rat’s natural bite inhibition as described on JoinRats
(http://www.joinrats.com/EarningTrust/RatsUsingTeeth/15630450_hH8bsw):
Chomp-stop-checks: This is my term for when the rat accidentally begins to bite human skin for some reason, and then suddenly, in mid-chomp, realizes that she was mistaken and didn’t mean to bite, and is able to stop in mid-Chomp. The “Stop” seems to be instinctual, as if she stops before she even has time to think about why, and then afterward Checks out the situation. This amazing skill shows just how much micro-level control pet rats have over their teeth pressure. Chomp-Stop-Checks can also be described as accidental teeth activity, “Oops, sorry, I didn’t realize it was you.” “Hey, I thought you were a green bean. Sorry! And by the way, could I have a green bean now?”

If you do encounter a rat that is biting, you can try to train them bite inhibition. But if that doesn’t take effect, such biting behaviour renders the rat unmanageable. Separation might then be the only option.

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