This article is from the WSSF 2012 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
Breeding & Stuff
By Karen Robbins
Alesa Loftis, Facebook
QOne of the rats that I bought is looking like she is pregnant (getting very plump). The pet shop told me she might be pregnant, and I took her anyway so I could adopt babies out rather than them being sold for food. She is acting very nervous and staying in her nest box most of the time except to eat or look around occasionally. Right now, she seems to be going from being really bashful and staying in her box, to active and eating and looking around, to lying outside the box really still. She is grooming a lot too. I used to breed hamsters, and I have looked up what little I can find on ratties who are pregnant but I am concerned about her being so reclusive. Let me just note also that she seems healthy in every other way and has been cuddling with the other female in her cage. She is not nipping or biting or showing aggression when I hold her. She just seems nervous. I purposely got two females because I did not want to breed, but I now want to make sure I care for her properly. And I am sad for her because she is young and has not had long to really bond with me yet cause she’s so nervous. Any advice is welcomed greatly.
Update: I have had her 15 days now and no babies but she is still nervous and tries to jump from my hand when I get her out. However, I am talking to her a lot and I get her out for short periods of time and let her roam in the secure room I have for their exercise and play. She doesn’t come back to me as readily as the other one does, but, she does not run and hide, so that is good.
ASounds like you probably do have a pregnant rat and she should be having them soon. That is unfortunately a common problem with rats purchased from some pet shops. We have an article with photos on what a pregnant rat looks like just before she has her kids www.afrma.org/brdstf_pgrat.htm. For more info on pregnant and nursing rats, see the following articles:
Nutritional Requirements in Rats
Large Litter of Rat Babies
Rat Breeding: Part 1 Biology
Yes, getting bred that young is very hard on females. Hopefully she won’t have very many and will be able to care for them. Some first-time moms that are very young when having their litter are overwhelmed and won’t take care of the babies. You can give her nesting material (I give mine shredded napkins) and some extra nutritious goodies. She will also need additional calories after the litter is born. A nest box isn’t necessary for them to have their babies in (some females will become overly protective if they have a house), that way you can monitor them without having to disturb the nest. Unlike hamsters, you will be able, and are encouraged, to handle the babies to socialize them to people.
With the timid one, you may want to have her spend more time with/on you by having her with you in a chair or other small area when you have her out rather than just letting her run free in a big room. Also, giving treats every time you visit and talk to them and have her out with you will help a lot.