What are some of the most common rat care mistakes still being made today?
Unfortunately there are still a lot of mistakes being made when it comes to proper rat care.
This is due to myths being perpetuated on a number of communities, sites and groups online. It always pays to remember that a lot of rat sites aren't updated regularly and could be based off of old information or incomplete research that's been studied in more detail today!
11 Common Rat Care Mistakes To Avoid:
Here's our countdown of the most common rat mistakes!
11. Using Sawdust Bedding:
When it comes to bedding there's still a lot of people using sawdust bedding for rats.
This is because of pet stores recommending people to buy whatever they can sell, or simply because of a lack of knowledge.
The reason that sawdust bedding for rats is a bad idea is due to it causing respiratory issues, also a rarer but possible issue is mites in the sawdust which can cause skin issues.
When looking for a good bedding for rats you should look for the most dust free bedding that you can find, it should also be fairly absorbent to negate too many ammonia based issues among other things.
10. Not Cleaning Your Rat Cage Daily
Another common mistake is not cleaning your rats cages daily.
There's no rule that says you have to deep clean their cage daily, but doing spot checks every day really is crucial.
Ammonia builds up fast which can cause respiratory issues, while boys are particularly prone to bladder infections which can be caused by dragging of their penis across a dirty cage or feces.
We have a brilliant guide on how to clean your rat cage the right way, which demonstrates our 3 step process for cleaning that's really easy to maintain even when you don't have a lot of time!
9. Thinking You Can Breed Your Rats
One really silly mistake we see all the time is people talking about planning on breeding their rats.
The truth is that breeding rats isn't an easy thing to do well. We've been keeping rats for over 10 years and we still don't think we know enough about breeding to be able to do it!
There's a reason why breeders that produce great rats are as hard to find as a needle in a haystack!
If you're not 100% sure of what you're doing, then don't breed rats period. There's still plenty of rats out there who need to be rescued to good homes!
8. Keeping Too Many Rats In One Cage
We have a really accurate rat cage calculator on our site that's using conservative, but realistic variables to determine how many rats your cage can comfortably take.
Yet we still see people with 5, 6 or 7 rats in cages that are only recommended for 3 maximum.
Remember that there's lots of good cages on the market that you can get for good prices, if your cage can't fit anymore rats it's best to wait until you can get a bigger cage before getting more!
At the end of the day it's only your rats that end up suffering if their cage isn't big enough!
You can see our best cages comparison post here.
7. Taking Rats Outside To Free Roam
We don't recommend taking your rats outside, for a few reasons.
Firstly if you were to do this in any scenario you'd need to have extremely well trained rats, if something went wrong then you need to be able to get them back and quick!
There's a lot of natural predators of rats outside such as birds, cats and plenty of other animals depending on where you live!
Rats might also accidentally eat an insect, or a plant that they're not supposed to eat. Domestic fancy rats aren't the same as wild rats and they don't know what they can and can't have!
6. Not Socializing Your Rats Daily
Don't ask us why, but there are some people who don't socialize their rats daily...
This is counter productive if you've gone through trust training, or if your rats aren't very social to begin with.
Rats also get bored in their cages, they love to be outside running all over you, and spending quality time with their favorite human!
5. Taking Their Word For It
You have to be careful about what groups, sites and forums you end up on as a rat owner.
We've come across a few distinct groups that recommend the strangest things!
One group recommends dog food as being the best food for rats, this isn't only not true but it's incredibly stupid. The problem with this kind of advice is that when enough people believe it, it convinces others all the more easily.
There's plenty of information out there that's perfectly fine when it comes to rats, but just be very wary about what you read and always research further!
4. Fasting Your Rats
Another myth that is floating around about rats is that it's good to fast them in order to lose weight.
This is a piece of advice that relates to our last point, there's absolutely no proof - to make matters worse this advice always fails to point out that rats stomachs are completely empty after 6 hours!
As I say, there's no proof that fasting helps rats lose weight. In most mammals a state of fasting that drags into the starvation mode actually causes the body to more readily store the next available nutrients as fats. I'm not sure if that's true with rats as well, but it most likely is!
So in all likelihood, even if this wasn't dangerous it's definitely counter-intuitive.
3. Not Checking If Your Rat Can Eat Something First
There's a lot of good reasons for checking if a rat can eat something before feeding it to them.
One such reason is that certain foods are toxic in rats, then other foods are toxic to males and not females.
There's also foods that pose choking risks.
Just trust us on this one it pays to do a little research first, and you can actually check out our nutrition section right now if you're unsure.
2. Not Giving Your Rats A Health Checkup
There are two types of checkups we recommend, firstly giving your rat a basic health check yourself every week.
Remember a week is a long time to a rat and plenty of things can go wrong!
You should check for lumps, skin issues, porphyrin and listen to their breathing among other things.
The other side to this point, is that if your rat is displaying symptoms of illness, take them to the vet right away!
If you catch an illness early then you're preventing a lot of suffering for your rat and potentially the vet should be able to cure them!
1. Mixing Their Food
This is the most common mistake we see when it comes to rat care.
There are those who believe mixing rats food is a good idea and that it's actually more nutritionally complete.
It's utter rubbish! Of course it isn't, first of all rats will selectively feed. Picking what they want, avoiding what they don't want. Not exactly balanced right?
Then there's the small issue of needing to know the precise macro and micro-nutrient requirements of rats and being able to calculate that into grams and even micro-grams.
Believe me it's not easy and 98% of people who claim they've done that are liars because somehow the topic of how to calculate those figures never comes up in those kinds of discussions!
These are just a few mistakes we've been seeing in rat care today in 2016.
What common mistakes have you noticed being made? Let us know in the comments!