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Handsome rattie boy Poeksie! And yes, that's his balls bulging out from beneath his bum.

Handsome rattie boy Poeksie! And yes, that’s his balls bulging out from beneath his bum.

 

Rattie boys are much more placid than girls, but you wouldn’t think so looking at the package they carry beneath their tail: Male rats, or bucks, have proportionally huge testicles, I mean, they’re almost as big as their head!

 

That’s because of their mating behaviour: If there are many rats around, females, or does, can breed with many males. This is called polyandry and results in sperm competition: If multiple males mate with a female, it’s up to their sperm to finish the race. And a good chance that one of your guys makes it to the eggs is if you deposit a lot of them. Hence the big balls, they hold a lot of sperm.

 

There is a direct relationship between testicle size and sperm competition, so this applies to all animals with a polygynandrous mating system such as lions and dogs.

 

So there you go, rattie boys are little stud farms on their own, but having big balls does not stop them from being absolutely adorable!

 

Rats Make Great Pets 🙂

 

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My pet rat Milka shows me her behind.

My pet rat Milka shows me her behind.

This is my pet rat Milka, as she sits on our bar stool in our kitchen, looking down the edge of the seat, pondering.

I just love this shot.

#PortRATure

 

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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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