A Conversation for Keeping Rats as Pets

Rats are certainly terrific

Post 1


Thanks for writing about how great rats are. There were a few things I disagreed with in the article, though.
1. Important: you suggested using wood shavings as bedding. DON'T!! Most wood shavings are extremely toxic - cedar and pine are commonly sold as bedding for small animals, and they contain aromatic oils which damage the lungs and kidneys of the animal. Aspen shavings are okay but much less common. Recycled paper type beddings are the best. American types are Cell-Sorb Plus and Carefresh. I'm not sure what they have in the UK. If all else fails give them ripped up newsprint, black and white only, no colored inks.

2. Unimportant: 99 of 100 sources that I've read suggest that in fact the Norway rat is what we have as domesticated pet rats, and the brown rat or roof rat or rattus rattus is the smaller, thinner, bigger-eared type. They are apparently nearly extinct in Europe, but not here in California.

Rats are certainly terrific

Post 2

Sea Change

At Labpets we used pine shavings exclusively. The rats, mice, cavies and hamsters weren't the least bit harmed.

Cedar was too expensive for a commercial operation, I have read bad things about it, but only in context where pine is also included, so I do not know if it is also truly bad.

Rats are certainly terrific

Post 3

Mookie- thingite arbiter of infinite wisdom and justice

Pine is what i use for my rat, she has never been harmed but i do know (at least im reasonably sure) that cedar is dangerous for anything smaller than a gunei(right spelling??)pig. My former rat Templeton lived to be 4 and a half in a pine bedded cage.

Rats are certainly terrific

Post 4

Prospero the Soothsayer

On the first point, I agree entirely. I used pine shavings for years and had many rats who suffered from breathing problems. I then switched to paper-based cat litter. (BioCatoLet or Bob Martin are the brands to look for here in the UK. Do not use clay-based litter as the dust from this is as bad as shavings, if not worse.) I have since had only one rat with breathing problems. That one also had other health problems which contributed to a high stress level.

On the second point, Rattus Norvegicus is the brown rat, from whom most pet rats are descended. Rattus Rattus is the black rat, common in Europe until the brown rats took over. I have heard of people successfully taming both species from the wild, though it is necessary to get them very young to do this.

Rats are certainly terrific

Post 5


yes black rats can be tamed, but they don't make as good a pet, they tend to be more flightly and timid. not as friendly as the brown smiley - smiley

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