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

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ROUTINE VET CARE

If you are looking for a great vet in Central Oregon to see your rattie my two recommendations are:

Dr. Toogood is a great all around vet and has worked with many people who have adopted from me. I've had the pleasure of personally working with him in the veterinary field. He is very compassionate and caring.

Dr. Toogood  
East Bend Animal Hospital 
Bend, Or.
541-318-0090

Dr. Maas is a great surgical vet. If you think your baby may need surgery including a spay, neuter or mass/tumor removal he has performed these surgeries on ratties, which can be very fragile and delicate under anesthesia. 

Dr. Maas 
Bend Veterinary Clinic  
Bend, Or.
541-382-0741

 

Portland Oregon: Scales and Tails, Dr. Surrency only see's exotic pets & offers the Suprelroin hormonal implant device to prevent mammary tumors in female rats, 971-777-4900

Portland Oregon: Vista Pet Hospital offers one of the best prices on Spay & Neuter, aprox cost $65 for neuter and $115 for spay, 503-305-4305

VETERINARY PAYMENT PLAN

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

NASAL DISCHARGE

It's not blood! Don't panic! A rats nasal and ocular mucus is a red brown color, which is normal. Many new owners mistake it for blood but its actually something called porphyrin. Rats have very sensitive respiratory tract and may get a sniffly nose during times of stress, including traveling. If you just brought home a new rat and notice a sniffly nose or red eyes you can wipe your ratties with a warm cloth or baby wipe.

 

Rats have an acclimation period of about 3-5 days when they arrive to a new environment. If the sniffles do not resolve within the acclimation period, I would first look for something that they may be sensitive to, which can be anything from the bedding type, soap/laundry detergent used on their fabric to something like smelly candles and glade plug in’s. If the sniffles continue for more than 10 days, your rattie may have caught a cold and you would then need to schedule an appointment with your vet.

Picture of normal nasal discharge from stress, travel or new environment:

Sever nasal discharge that may indicate a cold, note the rats hands also have discharge from rubbing face. If you can hear crackling noises from your rats chest (hold them up to year ear) they have and upper respiratory infection and will need some antibiotics:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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DIARRHEA

If you have just brought home a new rat and noticed that the carrier had soft stool or diarrhea, this can be a normal reaction from the stress of traveling and should clear up within a day or two. All of my babies have a fecal test before going home so that you can feel confident knowing they are free of intestinal parasites or worms.

Both pinworms and giardia can be a common occurrence in rats. The rat pinworm is not contagious to people and many long time pet owners can have rats with pinworms and not ever even know it. The rat pinworm usually lives in harmony with the rat meaning that it neither causes benefit or harm. It is generally not considered a pathogen unless the rat is experiencing symptoms such as diarrhea. Regardless, the idea of pinworms or parasites of any kind makes people uncomfortable, which is why I provide fecal testing before the babies go home with you.

Now, onto giardia. Rats can get giardia from unwashed produce, such as fruits and veggies. This is the same reason you are suppose to wash your produce before you eat them. While our immune systems can usually clear giardia acquired this way on their own, rats usually don't and can become infected with this parasite. So make sure to wash their fruits and veggies before giving it to them!

 

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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

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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

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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

 

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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 & liver.  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. You can read more about pine/cedar toxicity here.

Beddings I have used and found acceptable:

  •     Aspen shavings (any brand, just make sure it is 100% aspen & kiln dried)

  •     Walnut Pellet Litter (I love this and its great for keeping smell under control) 

  •     Rabbit Pellet Food is also a great pellet option for bedding and is also edible!

  •     Carefresh or similar product (not my favorite just because it gets stinky fast)

  •     Yesterdays News Cat Litter (Recycled paper litter, available in pellets & crumble.)

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, even if it is kiln dried, for 48 hours minimum to kill any mites that may be in the packaging. If you think your rat may have mites, you will need to schedule an appointment with your vet, as I do not recommend home remedies to treat mites. Pictures of scabs from mites:

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DIET

Rats need to have a pellet diet as their staple food. Pellet diets are a "complete" diet and contain everything that ratties need. Popular brands include Mazuri and Oxbow. I give treats and fresh fruit/veggies as enrichment. Beware of too many treats, if you feed them too much junk food they will refuse to eat their staple diet, because the junk foods taste better. For instance I had someone consult with me about their obese rat who would only eat lucky charms because the owner would offer a bowl of it every single day and the rat then refused to eat anything else. Seed diets are ok as treats but the pellet diets are important because they not only contain the appropriate protein content, vitamins and minerals they also encourage gnawing to help cut their teeth.

Picture of pellet diet: 

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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. I have had rats that potty train nicely and others that flat out just refuse. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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INTRODUCING A NEW RAT INTO YOUR GROUP

     It is always recommended to quarantine your new rat for 2 weeks before introducing them to your established rats. The idea behind this is to watch and make sure your new rat isn't sick with something that could be transferred to your established rats. Some people choose to skip this if they feel they have adopted from a highly reputable breeder, although it is still the standard recommendation. 

     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. If there has been any questionable activity then I watch for about an hour before leaving them alone. 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 seperate cages right next to each other and 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, because it happens and I will still take them back and get them all fixed up, no problem at all.

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                                         THE 2 BIG NO NO'S OF AGGRESSIVE RATS

Here is a video that shows both sidling and rat ball behavior so that you can see exactly what it looks like. https://youtu.be/oYGGKsixti0

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.  

Another note - hormonal aggression in males:

This is usually a genetic fault and comes on suddenly at about 6 months of age. I do not have any history of this happening in my lines, so if you adopted a male from me and believe this is happening please let me know ASAP. My main reason for mentioning it is for people who are looking for information on aggressive rats they already have at home.

If your once sweet cuddly male has all of a sudden become mean or has started seriously attacking or fighting with his cage mates, this could be a sign of hormonal aggression which is fueled by testosterone. In general having him neutered can fix this issue, but may not be the solution for every rat, especially if it has gone on for a long time. I.E. you have separated the aggressive rat and have now waited several months before deciding to get him neutered. 

 

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TUMORS

As of 4/13/20 I am 4 generations in and I have kept both male and females from each of my litters for the following intentions: (1) to further the line (2) to asses life expectancy, lifelong temperament, and lifelong health.

 

None of the stock I have personally kept has presented with tumors/growths. My oldest living female rat was born 12/29/17 (at the time I wrote this, that is 2 years and 4 months old) and she is still going strong with no tumors or growths.

 

I have 1 report of a female adopted from me as a baby that developed a mammary tumor at 18 months old.

 

The reason I am mainly speaking of females is because they are far more likely to develop a tumor than males, however males still can get tumors. While even the best-bred rats can sometimes spontaneously grow a tumor, many people believe it’s much more likely that the majority of tumors are genetic or environmental. This is one of the reasons I always keep a male and a female from my litters, so that I can see if anyone grows a tumor down the road. I am very pleased that 4 generations in, I have only had 1 report of a tumor, however that does not mean that it can't happen.

 

Because rats are so sensitive to their environment and anything they are subjected to, they make the perfect test subject and are often used so as "lab rats." I once heard someone say, "you look at them wrong and they grow cancer." Meaning that poor diet, junk foods, and any chemicals in their environment (cleaning, deodorizing, ect) may increase the chance of a tumor. This is why I keep Glade plug-in’s or fabric sprays away from my rats, I only clean with diluted vinegar and baby wipes, I don't feed junk food (processed foods, hot dogs, lucky charm marshmallows) and I only wash their blankies in hypoallergenic free and clear laundry detergent. Their lives are already short, I don't want to make it shorter!

 

You can reduce the possibility of tumors in rats by up to 95% by having them spayed or neutered. Neutering male rats is much easier than doing a spay on a female. Because spaying a female is so complicated some vets will say that the risk of a spay outweighs the risk of developing a tumor. If you are able, I do suggest getting your rat neutered or have the Suprelorin implant placed. If you choose not to that is ok, just make sure to periodically check your rattie over their lifetime for any lumps or bumps that may appear.

 

If you notice a lump on your rat you should have your vet check it out to get a diagnosis. Other lumps besides tumors can be common in rats such as an abscess or a cyst. You'll want to find out what kind of lump your rat has, since an abscess would require antibiotics. If the vet rules it a tumor, please let me know so that I can record it in my breeding history.

 

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