If your pet is having an emergency please call

Bend Vet Specialty and Emergency Center

541-385-9110

They are located at 1245 SE 3rd St C-3, Bend, OR 97702

They are open nights, weekends and Holidays

If you live in the Central Oregon area, my veterinary recommendation is East Bend Animal Hospital. I have used them for my rats and am happy with their prices and services. They are also open on saturdays!

 

EAST BEND ANIMAL HOSPITAL (541) 318-0090

 

Other vets in the area that see exotics, but I have not used them:


BEND VET CLINIC (541) 382-0741

 

If you need a payment plan to help cover your vet bills I suggest trying to apply for CareCredit. Its a medical credit card that offers no interest as long as you pay off the balance before your promotional period ends, usually 6, 12, or 18 months. A new promotional period is assigned for each purchase. CareCredit is not only accepted by most veterinary clinics but you can also use it for your own medical or dental bills.
 

TIPS

GOOD TEETH ACTIVITY!

I encourage all of my rats to practice good teeth activity, please read more at the following website:  www.joinrats.com/EarnTrust/RatsUsingTeeth/

Also rats teeth never stop growing, they require hard items to chew on to help rub down their teeth so that they do not get so long that they pierce into the upper or lower jaw. Hard pellet foods help with this and additional hard chew toys can be purchased, my favorite is the snak shak chew logs, which can be bought at most pet stores. Here is a link to what they look like. https://www.chewy.com/ecotrition-snak-shak-rabbit-guinea/dp/183217

LETS TALK CAGES!!

First and foremost, if you are getting a baby or will have babies, you will need a cage with 1/2 inch bar spacing. If it is bigger your rats will squeeze through and escape. Most ferret cages are 1 inch bar spacing so be aware of this when shopping. Essentially 1 inch bar spacing is only ok for adult males, since they are bigger.

The number 1 cage chosen by breeders and owners alike is the CRITTER NATION! It is by far the easiest cage to clean and maintain. No one likes doing the dirty work, so you may want to highly consider investing in this cage. It is very roomy and the front doors swing all the way open, making clean up time a breeze. No bending sideways at an awkward angle to reach inside a small door opening to clean inside the cage. It is also the easiest cage to put accessories into because again, the front doors swing all the way open! This cage comes standard with flat plastic base pans intended for use with fleece covers. If your rats are destructive fleece rippers (like mine) I suggest getting metal base pans and using bedding. (see below).

  • A single story cage runs about $150, and you can choose to add on a 2nd story later.

  • Or you can buy the two story for $250.

  • Single story dimensions: 36" Length x 25" Width x 38.5" Height, with 1/2 inch bar space.

  • You can divide the top and bottom from each other, or have it open for your ratties to use the entire 2 stories. 

  • Best bang for your buck!! This cage will last your rats entire life and then some!

  • Click here to view on amazon.com

Other acceptable cages:

PetSmarts "All Living Things, Rat Starter Kit" 

  • I do not recommend the food that comes with this, but the cage is decent.

  • Bottom detaches for easier clean up.

  • Runs about $100

  • Dimensions: 17.5" Length x 28" Width x 31.5" Height, with 1/2 inch bar spacing.

  • Click here to view on PetSmart.com

"Kaytee Multi-Level Exotic Pet Home"

  • Bottom detaches for easier clean up.

  • Runs about $100

  • Dimensions: 30.5" Length x 18" Width x 30" Height, with 1/2 inch bar spacing.

  • Click here to view on Amazon or Petco.com

Starter Cage, Nursery, Travel or Quarantine

​"Kaytee Rat Home"

  • Intended to be a temporary habitat as it is too small to be permanent.

  • Great for babies/nursery, a starter cage, traveling or quarantine.

  • Bottom detaches for easier clean up.

  • Runs about $50

  • Dimensions: 25.5" Length X 12.5" Width X 14" Height, with 1/2 inch bar spacing.

  • Me personally, I like to remove the ramp to make more floor space as ratties can climb the bars to get to the shelf.

  • Click here to view on Amazon or Petco.com

METAL BASE PANS FOR CRITTER NATION CAGE

The pans are not super cheap, and I did pay the extra on mine to get stainless steel vs the galvanized. My very first rat cage had a pull out bottom with galvanized and it rusted from urine in about 6 months. I bought both the bottom pan and the shelf pan in the 2 and 1/2 inch height. The website says "ferret nation" but they fit perfectly into the critter nation. 

www.bassequipment.com/Store/SCResult/245/Critter_Nation_Replacement_Pans

 

BEDDING
    Many new rat owners are unaware of the danger of pine and ceder bedding. Both these softwood shavings give off aromatic hydrocarbons (phenols) and acids that are toxic. The acids given off by pine and cedar shavings are very damaging to the respiratory tract.  These acids can actually destroy cells that line the lungs and trachea and cause respiratory infections. If you desire wood shavings as a bedding or litter please choose ASPEN wood since this wood does not contain the phenols and acids found in pine and cedar. 

Beddings I have used and found acceptable:

MITES! AN IMPORTANT BEDDING NOTE: Many pet owners have run into the dread of their pet ratties coming down with mites. Contaminated bedding is the #1 thing that most people turn to as the culprit. For this reason look for aspen shavings that have been kiln dried or heat treated, this helps reduce the risk of your rats becoming infectected from contaminated bedding. Many breeders choose the freezing method and freeze their bedding for 48 hours minimum to kill any mites that may be in the packaging.

DIET

A pellet diet contains everything that ratties need. It is a "complete" diet. I give treats and fresh fruit/veggies as enrichment. I use Mazuri brand 6f which is for breeding, but you can purchase standard Mazuri through your local pet store. The other popular pellet diet is from Oxbow.

  • more info to come on this subject

POTTY TRAINING
    I admit its a lot easier when you have fleece. The trick to potty training is to keep the rest of the cage clean and only have poo's in the litter box. Yes, this means going through and picking up the poo's to put them in the box. Which is much easier to do when you have fleece. If you are not using fleece you want to make sure the substrate inside the litter box is not the same as what lines your pans. For example use paper bedding to line the pan and aspen wood shavings in the litterbox.

    Some rats will pee in the litter using a "pee rock," but in general most rats will only poop in the box. A pee rock can be any flattish stone, like a river stone. I don't know why rats like peeing on rocks but they do. In the past I have also used a glass top from a candle that I removed the plastic ring from.

    I prefer the litter boxes with the grates since my rats like to eat their food in the litter, the pellet food is too large to fall through the grate onto the grossness below. I've use the REGULAR size litter box, not the jumbo, which can be found on Chewy.com

    It can be tough when you have some rats that meticulously use the litter and others that avoid it all together. The upside of having rats that use the litter is that the entire cage cleaning can be done a little less frequent and during the in between cleanings just empty and clean the litter boxes. Some of my rats are potty trained and some just refuse to use it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

INTRODUCING A NEW RAT INTO YOUR GROUP

     Rats establish a hierarchy between themselves, someone is going to be dominant and at the top, and everyone else is going to be under them. There are many introduction techniques however this is the one I have used and had success with every time. It is a direct method, not a meet and greet method.

    First, in the main cage I take out anything that the group might be possessive over. I don't want one of my established rats getting all huffy about the new guy being in their favorite bed. So I take anything that they might be mad about the new guy using out of the cage and then give it back once everyone is mingling well. I also remove anything that creates a tight small space, like a shelf that is too low to the ground, so that the new rat doesn't get cornered into a small space with no escape.

    On the new rat I take some dirty litter from my main cage and rub it all over the fur on the back of the new rat. Yes I know this is gross, but essentially you are marking the new rat with the scent of your group. 

   Then I dab a little bit of vanilla extract on the anus of the new rat, yes, again, also gross but the sweet scent of the vanilla is pleasing to other rats and also helps cover the natural scent of the new rat.

   I then put the new rat directly into the main cage. I let everyone start investigating. There will be a lot of smelling and following of the new rat. I give them a few mins to follow around and get their smells in. There may even be a tussle or two with squeaking, pinning and grooming, but as long as no one is "sidling" and no fur is flying then I let them work it out. 

   After the few mins of smelling is up, I start handing out treats to everyone. They got to see, smell, follow, interact with the new guy and now they get to eat treats next to him. Its a good distraction from the fact someone new has come. 

   If things have gone well for about 30 mins then I leave them to their own devices after that. Here is a video on my own rats doing dominance grooming with squeaks. This is normal and sometimes the submissive rat will be belly up while getting groomed. Since play fighting, pinning, pouncing and dominance grooming are all normal rat activities and not aggressive, new owners can have a difficult time telling. Girl rats tend to be more "drama-y" than males, meaning they squeak louder during dominance grooming and play fighting. Video of normal dominance grooming

   If you see clear aggressive behavior such as sidling or a full blown rat ball then a slower introduction, such as several meet and greets on neutral ground (like the bath tub) may be in order before trying this method again. Some rats just refuse newcomers no matter how many times you try, if you received a baby from me and your already established group refuses to accept them I will always take them back, even if they have gotten injured from your group, I don't judge, I'll still take them back and get them all fixed up, no problem at all.

                                         THE 2 BIG NO NO'S OF AGGRESSIVE RATS

Sidling: 

This is when the aggressing rat moves sideways towards another rat to attack it.  Its closest hind leg normally leads with the face turned towards the other rat but held low.  It becomes more aggressive when combined with fluffed fur and the tail being wagged from side to side (this is a sign of extreme excitement/emotion but is aggressive in this situation).  This behaviour is often a precursor to the side kick or shove or more aggressively actual lunging and biting. If you see one of your rats repeatedly siding up to another and then jumping at them, this is aggressive behavior.

 

Full Blown Rat Ball:

​This is thankfully very rare in rats and in most cases breaks up seconds after it starts.  The rats, having postured around each other for some time will suddenly launch themselves into each other and end up in a ball of fur, teeth and claws.  This is the state where serious injuries can occur and should be split up straight away using a water spray or something thick (like a towel) to protect your hands.  Even a rat who has never bitten or shown any aggression towards humans in their life will bite hard anything in their teeth’s reach in this state and human hands are no different. In the case that you are deeply bit by a rat it is recommended to see a doctor to prevent possible infection of the wound.