This is my number one most frequently asked question. I understand an adopters desire to own just one rat. Even I have made the mistake of owning just one rat. I’d like to explain why I, every rat club and organization, and every responsible rat breeder I know has the stance of only adopting rats out in same sex pairs, unless adopters have another rat at home:
Rats are extremely social animals. They need to be kept with another ratty buddy, unless they have aggression or medical issues. At any particular moment of a day, a rat is interacting with it’s other ratty buddies, whether through mutual grooming, playing, or cuddling up sleeping together. There is even scientific evidence that shows rats communicate using ultrasound, which humans are incapable of hearing or producing. Rats have a sleep pattern very different from humans. They have a “cat nap” lifestyle, taking naps throughout the 24 hour day, but are especially active at night. This means that while a person is sleeping a normal 8 hour night, their single rat is sitting in its cage alone, lonely and depressed. Most people also usually work or go to school for another 8 hours. That is 16 hours of the day that a rat would have to spend alone. Of course a single rat would be ecstatic to see it’s owner, it’s starved of social interaction and it’s owner is it’s only source!
What the owner doesn’t see is the depressed and often neurotic behaviors that develop when a social animal is housed alone. There are literally hundreds of psychological studies, many on rats, that show how detrimental keeping a social animal in solitary confinement is, especially in younger animals. Rats that live alone are much more easily stressed and have weaker immune systems, so are likely to succumb to illness such as a respiratory infection, which rats are already susceptible.
Owning two rats is really not that much more trouble than owning one, their cage just needs to be a bit bigger.
Housing ratties in social groups of two or more does not make them less friendly or less able to bond with you. In fact, groups of ratties are so much more entertaining than just one. They are constantly playing with each other and you, and are really a blast to watch. I currently have 14 ratties, and ALL of them are constantly seeking me out, begging for my attention, even when out playing in groups. If you spend enough time with your ratties, you’ll become just another ratty family member!
Want proof? There is a picture on my home page of my girl ratties standing, some teetering at the edge of a kiddie pool, obviously leaning to try to get something out of view. I wasn’t luring them with food or any tricks, they are all just desperately trying to reach for me, as I am just a few inches away. They just wanted my attention!
Please know I’m not trying to adopt more ratties out for financial gain. No one gets rich breeding rats. I breed rats as a hobby, not a business. If I wanted to make a profit, I would breed many litters at a time, and not screen my adopters for responsible pet ownership.
I DO NOT make exceptions to this policy.
Boys or Girls!?!? What a loaded question! There is such a difference between girls and boys. Here are a couple articles that may help adopters choose:
If you can get over those anatomical differences, males make much calmer, cuddlier, bigger, squisher companions. They will hang in your lap or on your shoulders, soaking up attention. I usually recommend males as pet for children. Contrary to old wive's tales, you can keep two (or more) males together without them fighting, however it is very difficult to introduce a new male to an existing older male, whether the new rat is young or old, though chances are better if the new rat is a baby. They don't have any chances of mammary tumors and other reproductive diseases that females do either. The down side is they are prone to obesity, so should be fed a low fat, low protein diet once they are 6-8 months of age. They do urine mark, however I have females that mark as well, but male urine has a bit more of an odor. Boys are also not as clean, and could use a bath once a month when they start to look greasy.
Girls are extremely active and playful. Especially when young (under 6 months), females will rarely sit still long enough to be cuddled. They do enjoy attention and a good ear massage, but much prefer to run around, or wrestle with your hands and play. They do calm down with age, and I've had several very cuddly females, but it takes a while for them to get to that point. They are affectionate, and do bond with their people, but are just very busy. Females are also at risk of mammary tumors, and other reproductive diseases.
How long will I have to wait for my rat(s) if I am on the waitlist?
Please remember that I am a small breeder, breeding for my love of rats. I will only ever breed two or three litters at a time, so that all my little ratlets will be well socialized and lovable so adopters may have to be patient for their particular rat to arrive.
Rat gestation is 21-23 days, with 22 days as the norm. Babies are weaned a day shy of 5 weeks, and can go to their new homes between 5-6 weeks, though some are kept until 8 weeks (typically Siamese and Himalayan). If you are interested in a planned breeding that has just been paired, the wait will be at least 8-9 weeks. If your interested in a litter that has already been born, the wait may be just a few weeks, but it's best to get on the waitlist early if you'd like ratties from a planned litter.
Usually, the more specific you are in your request, the longer you may have to wait. The exception to this is if I have a litter on the way or planned soon that I know will have that variety of rat. It also depends on your location on the waitlist. If you are further down on the waitlist for a certain variety of rat, and there are other requests before you requesting the same thing, there may not be enough ratties of that variety for everyone in a litter.
The best way to know when the variety of rat you are requesting will be available is to check my planned breeding. I usually list what I expect from a planned litter here as well as when I plan to breed that pair of ratties. If you see words like “chance of” that’s exactly what it means. There is a certain probability that trait might come up, and a certain probability it might not. “Chance of” happens when I see a trait in a pedigree which that rattie may have inherited from it parents. This is different from when I say I expect a certain percentage of a litter to have certain traits.
Please don’t be offended if I decide to keep a rattie from a litter as Pick of the Litter and it’s a variety you were on the waitlist for. If I keep a rattie it means I need that rat to reach a breeding goal. Many of our breeding's are an intermediate step towards a particular type of rat. However, if you see a rat from a litter that I've picked, ocassionally I will adopt that rat out on a "stud" contract, meaning it would come back to the rattery when it's older for a couple days to breed, then be returned to its owner.
Should I have my rat spayed or neutered?
Spaying a female before she has a litter, at around 6 months of age, is highly recommended. It absolutely reduces any chance of mammary tumors and eliminates any chance of cancer or disease of the reproductive organs. This will likely lengthen the life of the rat. The down side is it is fairly expensive. Vets typically charge between $200-300, since it is such a delicate surgery on such a small animal. We have negotiated a special price with our vet (who is wonderful), so that spays are around $150, however if I bring in multiple females, the price is lower.
Neutering doesn't really pose any health benefits for male rats, and the surgery is more complicated than it is in dogs and cats. It does reduce aggression in males that have aggression problems, reduces urine marking, and the greasy film that males can get. It may decrease kidney degeneration and prostate disease, and eliminates chance of cancer in the testes, but these are not common problems. It is also fairly expensive, however our vet charges around $100 for us to take in a male for neutering. Males should be neutered as young as possible, around 4 weeks, as the surgery becomes more difficult and harder on the rat as they get are older.
What do terms such as rex, dumbo, berkshire, irish, self etc. mean?
These terms must sound a little odd to anyone who is not familiar with fancy rat varieties! For issues of space and time, I'll only define variety terms which I breed for currently.
Terms for coat types:
Standard: a short, smooth, glossy coat Rex: Curly hair and curly whiskers. There are different degrees of rexing, as well as multiple genes responsible for rexing. The result is varying degrees of curliness to coats. Rats can also be double rexes, having extra curly coats and whiskers, however it can also result in a "patchwork" hairless. Hairless: Absence of hair. Some hairless rats retain a little hair, most commonly on their faces. Show standards are defined as complete hairlessness.
Terms for earset:
Standard: Ears set on the top of the rats head Dumbo: Just plain cute....ok really it means a rat with larger ears set on the sides of their head.
Self: a coat that is completely one color. English-Irish: a white equilateral triangle on the chest Irish: a small, evenly shaped, white marking on the belly with white paws and a white tail tip Berkshire: A completely white belly (ideally not going up the sides), white paws and tail tip, and a small spot between the ears. Variegated: a colored head and shoulders, white blaze on forehead (ideally), small and numerous color splashes from shoulders to tail, including the sides and tail and a white belly. Blazed: a white wedge shaped blaze on the face from nose to ears. Shown only in Berkshire or Variegated. Hooded: have a white body with a colored hood to cover head, neck, chest, and shoulders, and a spine marking extending from hood to tail in an unbroken, moderately wide stripe without ragged edges. Capped: a white body with a colored cap on head not extending to throat or past the ears. Masked: a white body and a colored "mask" covering just across the face and around the eyes. Himalayan: a white rat with dark color points on the nose, ears, legs, rump, and tail. Can have seal, blue, russian blue, and other color points. Can have pink or black eyes. A himalayan rat generally has an albino allele and a siamese allele. Siamese: an ivory to medium beige with color points on the same places as a himalayan. Can have pink or black eyes. Burmese: A dark brown rat with darker color point at the same places as a himalayan. Eyes are black.
Coat Colors: I currently have black, American blue, pink-eyed white, platinum, and mink. Check out our resident rats for pictures of these colors.
Do you adopt to other breeders?
Yes, we exchange rats with other established breeders.
I may adopt out rats to new breeders if they meet the following conditions: *Have obtained or will obtain breeding stock from a reputable source that is known to be healthy for several generations. *Is currently working with an established breeder as a mentor (Note: I cannot mentor any new breeders, I just don't have the time, nor the experience, but am happy to answer occasional questions) *Has clear breeding goals, and a good understanding of the genetics involved in the varieties and colors they want to work with. *Has a current website, showing the conditions their rats are kept in, the rats they currently have, the backgrounds of those rats, and information on how they adopt their rats to others.
Why do you adopt your rats as PET ONLY?
If you are not an established or approved breeder, you may NOT breed any rats adopted from our rattery. The rats I breed come from lines that have been worked on and improved for many generations by myself, and other breeders. The work that I and other breeders have put into breeding the rat you adopted, would be completely undone and a total waste if someone just paired it with any old rat they could get. I breed quality, healthy rats because I want to improve fancy rats, and I do not support anyone who wants to breed two rats "just for the fun of it" or "to witness the miracle of life". There are a lot of things to think about when breeding. What if that "miracle" goes wrong, and the mom dies during birth, she eats her babies, she has difficult labor and needs expensive veterinary intervention? How will you find homes for all the babies, which can number up to 17-20? What if the babies are not healthy, or are deformed?
In short...I DO NOT SUPPORT CASUAL BREEDING OF RATS