American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the Winter 2001 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Helpful Hints

Large Paper Rolls; More Important Tips; General Tips
Large Paper Rolls

From Karen Robbins
If you work in an office that uses the large rolls of paper (the kind a large printer or plotter uses), have your coworkers save the empty tubes. These make great rat toys when cut to size. If you cut them a little shorter, then the mice enjoy them as well and can make some elaborate nests with all the strips they can shred from the tube.

Also, those large tubes that you can mail posters/plans/etc. in, work just as well.

More Important Tips

From Monica Jung, La Quinta, CA

  • Check for gaps under the edge of the toe-kick of all bathroom and kitchen cabinets or your pet can get into the chemicals and cleaning supplies inside the cupboards through the gap in the toe-kick.
  • Watch the clothes dryer vent pipe (an escape route), if you have an indoor laundry room.
  • If you use granular pest control products outside your home, be cautious not to track the granules into the house on the soles of your shoes. This also goes for granular lawn foods and fertilizers. If you use pesticide spray for an unwanted insect indoors, retrieve the insect remains before your rodent finds it. Wash Hands
  • Always wash your hands immediately before picking up your rodent, even if your hands are “clean.” Whatever is on your hands, especially lotion or bacteria, ends up on their coat and ultimately in their stomach.
  • The same warning for children as to plastic bags applies equally to rodents.
  • Rodents will eat things that we do not consider as “edibles,” and we are then surprised when we find the evidence and pray it was not toxic. They might sculpt your candles and bar soap and chew holes in cosmetic bottles and medications. No plastic container is beyond the power of curious teeth. If you have found empty bottles, suspect that your rat has punctured them. My rat was able to jump from the floor to the bathroom counter top in one vault! She liked anything with a “minty” and sweet flavor like toothpaste. I have a large scented candle that has beautiful oak leaf cluster designs sculpted by my rat. She indulged her artistic pursuits for at least a month before the evidence was discovered. She would climb to the dining room table, and later to a high shelf to do her artwork (quietly and secretly) after she had been caught in the act of sculpting it on the dining room table. Pest Control
  • If you are not the original occupant of your home, consider the possibility that the previous resident may have used rodent poisons in hidden areas and your pet might find residues, especially in the kitchen under the cabinet floor boards.
  • Flower If you keep houseplants, put them outside until you can determine beyond any doubt which ones are safe, including their potting soil.
  • Sun If you are gone during the day, be sure you know the way the sun travels around your house throughout the day. A pet could be very uncomfortable, overheated, or even blinded if the mid-afternoon sun streams through a window for a few hours, though the area otherwise appears cool and shaded in the morning and evening. Rodents do not sunbathe like dogs or cats!
  • Keep bathroom doors closed if possible (not always effective if they are not flush with the floor), or one day Toilet you may hear a “splash” when your pet discovers what that cold, white thing is. The seat of the toilet does not give the curious pet the expected footing for a safe landing. It was less than two days from the time I first thought of the possibility until I heard the splash and the scrambling paws! Who knows, this may be the best way yet to win the “seat war” with the male residents of your happy home! “Save the rat,” may save arguments.

These risks are obvious, but until an incident occurs, we hope not to have to wish we had thought of them before. There is a split camp on controlled versus free-running rodents and usually our first rat is the one that gets the most freedom. This is when we are least likely to suspect these potential hazards, as veteran rodent keepers later learn to anticipate and prevent. I hope that sharing our misadventures can prevent mishaps. They make great stories but could have been sad disasters without the help we had from angels.


General Tips

From Nichole Royer

  • When bathing rats, trim their nails first, not last. It saves on scratched arms.
  • Remove water bottles from cages while you travel, they will leak while in a car. Give your critters a slice of orange or apple for the ride.
  • Bring each of your animals in separate small “health check” carriers—even if you have larger community cages for them. This way, if one of your critters does not pass the health check, it won’t disqualify all of its cage mates! *

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Updated April 21, 2014