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Old 04-12-2012, 11:09 PM
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Default Rat food? (And toy ideas)

Petsmart apparently no longer carries the Mazuri brand of food, which is what I was planning on purchasing for the rats. The only block food they have is the Forti-Diet Pro Health. TSC doesn't carry any block formulas, and I think the only other brand available to me is the Premium 8 and 1 brand sold at Walmart (which is what the rats are currently on, I think). I want to keep them on a block diet, but I'm not sure which one I should purchase.

They currently get a block in the morning and a block at night, and if I'm around I'll typically give them half a small milkbone in the afternoon as a treat (either in addition to one of their blocks, or as a substitute). We also feed them table scrapes from our meals if we're eating something that they might enjoy (bread, fruit - namely bits of ripe banana, bits of egg, crackers, etc.).

Does that sound okay, or are we doing something dreadfully wrong? I figured it wouldn't hurt to give them a variety of things, but this is the first time I've ever had rats and it is a learning experience, to be sure. LOL

And, what are some ideas for toys for them? They absolutely demolished the cat toys I had purchased for them, and I can't keep buying things if they're going to be torn up in a day or two.

They sleep in their bin cage at night/when no one is home, but during the day/when we're around we move them over to the wire cage. In the wire cage they have a little crinkly tunnel/hammock, a wooden house, a tuna helper box, and a metal tube. In their bin they have a bulk-poptart box, a wooden house, and another metal tube. I also give them paper towels to use as nesting material. I've given them toilet paper tubes before as well, but they don't really like them.

I just bought them a little log house/climby tube thing for them to play on/chew on, but I'm not sure what else to do for them. Any good ideas? Would they use a wheel if I bought one, do you think? They hate being in their ball and refuse to move when they're in it, so I wasn't sure if they'd take to a wheel very well.

Also, I'd love to make them work for their food instead of just handing it to them, but I'm not sure how. Can't really give a rat a puzzle ball like you do with dogs. Any ideas there?
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:23 PM
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I make the food for my girls, following this diet:

http://www.ratfanclub.org/diet.html

And they absolutely love it. It's on the expensive side to start up, but really after that you just buy stuff when it runs out. The oysters REEK! lol

As for toys, the only thing I have done is put treats in a toilet paper tube and twist the endings off.

I've only been a rat owner for...12 days, lol, so I will definitely be looking into this thread.

So far my girls' favorite game seems to be crawl up my shirt, run behind my neck, jump onto their cage, crawl to the floor, and start all over again. I'm in love with them
And if Daisy thinks that I have food she will literally scale my pantleg trying to get to it, the chubbo. I also hide treats around the bathroom before I let them run around in it every night, I figure it is more stimulation, but I am trying to give them as much as possible.

ETA: when I say crawl up my shirt I mean the outside, lol, not the inside, their fingernails are too sharp for that! lol
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Old 04-12-2012, 11:57 PM
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Dog food works fine as a replacement for lab blocks if you can't find a brand you want to use. You just want the protein to be around 18% so typically you'd be looking at senior/low fat diets. I fed my girls Wellness Senior. Sometimes I would supplement with Suebess Mix (http://www.ratsrule.com/diet.html) when I had extra money to make it up; most of the time I just gave them fruits and veggies and other table scraps for extra variety. I think what you're doing is fine, rats are garbage disposals and can pretty much eat anything.... even chocolate (small amounts )!

I gave up on buying toys because mine would never use them. They liked shredding things though so I would put a cardboard box full of newspaper in their cage so they could go to town flinging it around and ripping it all up. One of mine used the wheel pretty obsessively, the other didn't care. I never bought a ball for them so I don't know if they would have reacted the same to it.

Sometimes I'd hide their food throughout the cage so they'd have to search for it instead of just nomming at the bowl. I would give them Kongs too (usually stuffed with baby food or yogurt - but not as complex as I would do for my dogs).
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Old 04-13-2012, 12:06 AM
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My rats' favorite "kong" was an uncooked ziti noodle (the really big ones), stuffed with one or two soft dog treats, then filled with peanut butter and frozen. My roommates considered me crazy when they saw me stuffing peanut butter in a noodle, but the ratties loved it so there you go.

My girls also liked bird toys, especially the ones with hangy parts they could chew on and shred. Bird toys are pricier, but longer-lasting than cat toys. I'd buy them when they were on sale and rotate them out pretty frequently.

I'd also save any little cardboard boxes, like the boxes that pudding or jello comes in, toothpaste boxes, contact solution boxes, anything like that. And toilet paper rolls, of course. You can put treats in those, too, they loved that. I even used my old socks, stuffed them and tied off the end and let the ratties chew them up. I really like the idea of just stuffing paper in a box, I never thought to do that but I bet my girls would've loved it.

I had a wire cage, and occasionally I'd put stuff on the top of the cage, on the outside, for the rats to pull inside. Paper (those annoying credit card applications you're supposed to shred, etc.), cloth (old towels, etc.), stuff like that.
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Old 04-13-2012, 12:16 AM
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Oh, that's a good idea about hiding treats in the toilet paper tube. Why didn't I think of that?

And we absolutely adore our girls, too. When we're watching TV in the evenings, we let them out to run around on the couch with us. They like to use us as climbping trees and burrow under the blankets. Choco is a lot less antsy than Bee, and she likes to climb into my boyfriend's shirt and fall asleep on his shoulder.

The one thing I wish they didn't do was dribble pee all of the time. Tis gross. But, at least they don't poop everywhere.

I had heard you could feed them dog food, but wasn't sure about it. I'll probably just keep buying them lab blocks, but if I decide the price isn't worth it Chloe eats a low fat food and they can just share with her. Lol They're such little piggies, though, I don't really want to free feed them (they also fight over their food if they both aren't given the same amount), so I'd have to figure out how many pieces they needed per meal.
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Old 04-13-2012, 12:23 AM
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I also fed "raw" with my rats(and birds). The food you buy in petstores is really crap. Dog food/Cat food is only slightly better unless you REALLY know what you are looking for. It's easy to feed raw/homemade for rats. Meat, fruit, veggies, some nuts/legumes, occassional carb/starch here and there. Make a huge batch, freeze in little baggies, and always keep one in the fridge to pull out for feedings. I used a little measuring scoop to put it in their bowls.

Baby food is super cheap and easy, too.

No-No's for Feeding:
Quote:
raw dry beans or peanuts—contains antinutrients that destroy vitamin A and enzymes needed to digest protein and starches, and causes red blood cells to clump. Roasted peanuts are fine.
raw sweet potato—contains compounds that form cyanide in the stomach. Canned sweet potato is cooked and is fine.
green bananas—inhibits starch-digesting enzymes
green potato skin and eyes—contain solanine, a toxin
wild insects—can carry internal parasites and diseases
raw bulk tofu—can contain bacteria; packaged raw tofu is safe
orange juice—forbidden for male rats only, d-limonene in the skin oil, which gets into the orange juice during squeezing, can cause kidney damage and kidney cancer due to a protein that only male rats have in their kidneys. Pieces of the orange fruit are okay if you wash the orange-skin oil off of it after peeling it.

Dried corn can contain high levels of fungal contaminates which has been shown to cause liver cancer in rats. Corn also contains high levels of both nitrates and amines. These two compounds can combine in the stomach to form nitrosamines which are carcinogenic. Other foods high in nitrates include beets, celery, eggplant, lettuce, cucumber, radishes, spinach, collards and turnip greens. Therefore, I suggest you limit the amount of these foods in your rat’s diet. Some fresh corn is fine, but if you feed your rats blocks, try to avoid brands which have corn as the first ingredient.
As far as toys, you definitely don't have to over think anything. Cat/Bunny toys are cheap, lots of wood blocks for them to chew on, cardboard(like empty tp rolls) for them to shred.
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Old 04-13-2012, 12:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by *blackrose View Post

The one thing I wish they didn't do was dribble pee all of the time. Tis gross. But, at least they don't poop everywhere.
True story!! There is a reason they only get out of cage time in the bathroom, it's easy to wipe up the floor when they are done
But yeah, at least they aren't full on peeing and pooing when they are out.
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Old 04-13-2012, 12:45 AM
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It's entirely possible to litter train a rat! In fact, it's just about possible to train a rat to do anything. They are like little dogs. Mine usually ran all over the house, and we rarely had a poop/pee problem.
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Old 04-13-2012, 01:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lyzelle View Post
It's entirely possible to litter train a rat! In fact, it's just about possible to train a rat to do anything. They are like little dogs. Mine usually ran all over the house, and we rarely had a poop/pee problem.
I don't mean full bowel movements, I mean the marking. Little droplets everywhere.

http://www.ratbehavior.org/WhyDoRatsPee.htm

None of my three every have full bowel movements outside of their cage (or they haven't so far), it's literally just a droplet here or there when they are running around the bathroom. However they don't seem to mark in their cage at all, they save their full BMs for that, lol.
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