This article is from the WSSF 2005 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Karen Robbins
Patti Davis, e-mail
QWe just purchased two new baby female rats from PetsMart. What’s the lowdown on purchasing through a pet store? I know that PetsMart (as opposed to Petco) has only females and they seem to be in a better situation (healthier, cleaner, etc.). Although they seem healthy, one tends to do a bit of sniffing/sneezing on and off and the other one has somehow hurt her front foot and won’t use it! They are quite active, eating well, friendly, etc., but I’m already concerned about these two problems (we’ve only had them for 3 days and we consider ourselves good pet owners—we had one pet rat previously who recently died of old age). Any suggestions?
AThe biggest complaint we hear from people calling the club after they got rats from pet shops is in the health of the rats after they get them home and have them a day or two (they are sick/get really sick/die or the females end up having babies). We have an article on the web site that can answer most/all of your questions at www.afrma.org/thequest.htm about the advantages of buying from a breeder versus a pet shop. The article www.afrma.org/choosingpetrat.htm has specific details on picking out those special pet rats just for you.
If your babies are sneezing, I suggest taking them to a vet who can put them on medication right away. Stress from going from the pet shop to your home has obviously brought out illnesses they were carrying, and medicating right away can help clear things up.
Your little rat with the sore foot would benefit from seeing a veterinarian to make sure the foot/leg is not broken. If you have a wire cage with shelves or ladders, make sure the shelves or ladders are solid material or wire that is no bigger than ½ x ½ inch square. One-half by one inch wire shelving/ladders are just the right size for a rat’s back foot to get caught and potentially injure their leg. Most people will place material cut to size (indoor/outdoor carpet, bath rug, towels, etc.) on the shelves so the rats are not walking on the hard wire surface. You would need to pin or clip the material in place so the rats can’t carry off the material to their nesting spot. These will need to be changed/washed every few days. You can also use the plastic needlepoint canvas on the shelves.