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Groups & numbers

August 2016: I currently have 20 rats in three groups; one group of ten does in an SRS; four does in half an SRS XL; and a group of six bucks currently introing who are bound for the other half SRS XL.

Main group:
2x 17 months (Fallow, Eldra)
1x 14 months (Afterglow)
3x 9 months (Nash, Lightfoot, Catalyst)
4x 3 months (Hannity, Terra, Freewild, Begasti)

Second group:
1x 20 months (Rigmarole)
1x 17 months (Basta!)
1x 14 months (Tinderbox)
1x 12 months (Fog)

Buck group:
1x 12 months (Crafty Dan)
2x 3 months (Adelante, Allagash)
3x 2 months (Coppermine, Sunnymead, Silverthorne)

Cages & housing

See the Housing page for information and photos of my cages and carriers, the substrate/bedding I use, my cleaning routine, etc.

The rat room

When we had our very first girls, the cage used to be in our open-plan lounge/kitchen as we really like having them around as much as possible, and it was subsequently moved to the study as it was the coolest room in the flat we had at the time - during cold spells the temperature in there would go down to 8-10 degrees but the rats have no issues with that level of chill.

Following our house move in 2012, the rats (and I!) are very lucky to have their very own, very cool rat room. It's amazing! We closed off the door to the hall and had work done to create a new door to the lounge, as it suited the flow of the flat much better, repositioned some sockets, and painted it a lovely yellow which is uncannily similar to the shade on this site ;-) There are Ikea kitchen units all along one wall, which serve the dual purpose of storage (substrate, paper pellets, small cages, carriers, toys, hammocks, first aid kit, etc) as well as providing incredibly useful worktop space for all sorts of things - mostly cages but also weighing scales, a small food bin, a writing pad, camera, and all sorts of other things I need to have to hand. The units are on legs to allow for rats running underneath (thus not losing any floorspace) and tall enough that the rats can't reach the worktops when they freerange, which is invaluable as I don't have to worry about what I leave out on the worktop, and also means they can't climb on each other's cages and annoy the occupants. Along the opposite wall is a very comfortable 2-seater sofa, the main cage (which I block off with correx around when other groups freerange), and a large cat climbing tree. There are also doors to an under-stairs walk-in storage area and an en-suite bathroom, which is super useful for filling up bowls and bottles and washing their things.

For photos of the rat room refurb, go to the Media page :-)

Freerange

The rats freerange in the rat room and I try to give each group at least 30 minutes every evening, with any young and active groups getting up to 2 hours. During weekends I'm able to let them out much more, sometimes for most of the day. No matter how spacious and interesting their cages may be, I don't consider it suitable for them to have to spend all their time in there. As the intelligent and sociable creatures they are, they absolutely love the chance to pelt around and really raise hell. Freerange time is mostly supervised; I usually sit on the sofa so they can come and visit me any time and get plenty of interaction if they so wish. There is a glass-panelled door between the rat room and the lounge, so in theory that will allow me to keep an eye on them whilst doing other stuff - but I really enjoy sharing freerange time and fuss with them.

The rat room floor is littered with a varying selection of toys and things to investigate - a large cat climbing tree, smaller cat scratching posts, wine racks, cardboard boxes, tunnels, blankets, tubes, corks, little stones and balls, and a deep tray or water bowl as they enjoy playing with it as well as drinking and washing. On occasion they get to go pea-fishing in an old cage base and they very much enjoy climbing up trouser legs and pulling off various daring balancing acts.

Pre-move, we lived in a much smaller flat so for freerange we would stretch a collapsible correx "wall" across the length of the lounge to give them plenty of space to ping around in, whilst keeping cables etc out of harm's way. It folded up when not in use so was quite a neat solution, although it did involve pushing all the furniture to the sides of the lounge in order to fit it in! Most of the photos below are from even earlier (2008-10) when we used to freerange in our hall - it was a good enough space, although very cold and drafty unless in the summer months. The rats didn't seem to care but the soft humans couldn't stand sitting in there for very long.

[I'll need to transfer the photos here!]

Toys & enrichment

Visit the Toys & enrichment page to see where they rassle and play for their out-of-cage time, and photos of the cage furniture and toys I use for their enrichment.

Feeding

Go to the Feeding page for more information about what I feed my rats.

 

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