Forget cats and dogs, rats make fantastic pets!
Rats are clean, sociable, smart, low maintenance and have great personalities. We really can’t recommend them enough.
But if you want to get a pet rat there are some basic things you’ll need, in order to care for your little buddy and make sure they have a long, happy and healthy life.
You will need a good rat cage.
Rats like a lot of space. They are naturally very active animals that love to run up and down, scabbling and climbing their way over obstacles. The very minimum sized cage you should look for is 50cm cubed for one rat getting bigger the more rats you have.
A wire cage with a solid bottom is perhaps the best. A wire cage provides better ventilation than a glass cage, allowing you rat to breath freely. While a solid floor prevents your furry friend getting trapped and hurting themselves.
The wire should be spaced about 1cm apart, remember that if a rat can fit his read through a space, they can fit their whole body! So make sure the wire is suitably spaced.
You will also need a house for your rats to sleep in.
Rats are very sensitive to light, so a nice safe nest box that blocks out as much light as is possible is very important for a healthy, happy pet.
Some quality dust-free bedding for the cage.
There are a range of bedding options available for pet rats. Paper and straw pellet beddings are very common and work perfectly for rats. Inexpensive and very absorbent, pellets make for the perfect bedding.
Giving rats sheets of cardboard will give them the opportunity to make their own bedding, your rat will have a great time shredding and arranging cardboard and creating a cosy nest.
Paper, straw and cardboard beddings are obviously very absorbent, any spilt water or the rats waste will cause these litters to clump together. Make sure you remove soiled bedding on a regular basis to avoid your rat getting sick.
The only common bedding type that should really be avoided is shredded paper bedding. the ink from newspaper and other waste paper can be poisonous to rats and should be avoided. Even if doesn’t make your rat sick, the ink can rub off on to your rat and stain them.
A good rat food.
Rats are true omnivores which means they need a little more nutritional verity than a lot of pets. Rats can only produce a few of the vitamins and minerals they need to survive, and so have to get everything the need from what, in the wild, would be a varied diet.
The best way to ensure that your rat gets the right nutritional content is to invest in a high-quality rat pellet. The best rat foods are specially formulated with the right balance of protein, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals to make sure that your pet gets everything they need to stay healthy over the course of their life.
Small amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables can be added as a treat, but make sure you include this in your rats total daily food intake rather than as a supplement. We don’t want your rat getting chubby!
A water bottle to let them quench their thirst.
An ad lib supply of fresh clean water is vital to your rat’s health. A water bottle is the best option. An open bowl gives a rat the opportunity to contaminate their water supply or flip the bowl and get their cage wet.
If you still want to go with a bowl, make sure it’s not too big as your rat will have trouble drinking from it.
Some toys and accessories to brighten up their days.
Rats are very intelligent creatures that love challenges, exploration, and puzzles. Every rat is different, so testing out different combinations of toys will help you find out what your rat likes.
So what kind of toys are available? Platforms, ladders, ropes and tunnels will take care of your rats love of exploration, as well as providing new ways to challenge them. Some rats also like a running wheel, but some rats will never touch one.
They really do have unique personalities and getting to know yours is one of the best things about having a rat. Try a combination of these toys and see which ones they like. Mixing it up occasionally and introducing something new, will give you rat more stimulation and help to keep them happy.
Toys made from rope or wood will provide more stimulation to keep your rat happy, as well as giving them something to chew on.
A carry case for emergency vet trips.
You will need a strong, sturdy, well ventilated carry case to transport your rat around.
The first thing to note is that rat carriers should be small enough that your rat feels safe and secure. Rats are likely to get worried and stressed in a large space, they can feel like there is nowhere safe to retreat and hide from any new threat that might come along.
There are generally three main types of pet carrier, plastic, metal and carboard.
A plastic rat carrier is generally better than metal or cardboard.
Rats are born to dig and will easily scratch and bite their way through a carboard carrier when they become scared. Plastic is durable enough that your rat won’t be able to escape but is also superior to metal because plastic is less likely to damage your rats’ teeth.
There is a fourth type of carrier, the soft sided. Soft sided carriers can be more comfortable for long journeys, but make sure to find one sturdy enough four your rat.
The pandemic has seen many people finding comfort in a furry little friend, and while a dog is the perfect companion in difficult times, the high demand for puppies has led to a disturbing rise in dog theft. In fact the UK charity DogLost has reported a 170% increase in dog theft from 2019.
Losing a dog can be a devastating experience and many people will go to extreme lengths to avoid the pain. The BBC recently reported on a couple that offered a staggering £20,000 reward for the safe return of their dog, the sum total of their life savings.
To avoid ending up in a situation like this it is important to understand why people steal dogs, so that you don’t end up unwittingly supporting the crime, and we will make some simple suggestions so you hopefully will never end up losing your dog.
Why are dogs being stolen.
Having a dog stolen is a devastating experience and many owners will offer no questions asked rewards for the safe return of their dog, the dog thief can simply pretend to be the one who found your dog and collect the reward.
Sometimes dogs are stolen to fulfil a particular request, whether it is for a breeder or a private owner who can’t wait to get their hands on a specific breed of dog.
Demand for puppies has increased enormously during the lock down which has seen the average price of a pedigree dog increase from £500 to £2000! This combined with the fact that the lockdown is making other forms of crime harder, breeding puppies has become a lucrative alternative.
As we’ve noted demand for puppies has increased dramatically during lock down. Many dogs that are stolen are simply sold on through various sites such as Facebook, and Gumtree.
Perhaps the saddest reason is that sometimes dogs are stolen to act as ‘bait dogs’ to train fighting dogs.
How to stop it.
Don’t let your dog out of your sight!
It might sound obvious, but your dog is more vulnerable to being stolen if they move out of your line of sight. Be wary of letting your dog round bends, or into bushes, they are far more likely to be taken if the thief can’t see the dogs owner. 16% of dogs are stolen when out for an ordinary walk, so varying your route might also help protect your pooch.
Secure your garden
Taking care of holes in fences might prevent your dog escaping, but raising the height of your fence or hedge will deter thieves from gaining access to your garden and stealing your dog. AS many as 50% of dogs are taken from gardens, so if you only do one thing to protect your pet this should be it.
Don’t leave your dog outside of the shop
This leaves your dog very vulnerable to being stolen as once out of sight a potential opportunity is created, with 7% of dog thefts occurring in this way. Bystanders provide little protection, as they don’t know who the dog belongs to.
This might sound obvious but neutering your dog means that it won’t be stolen for breeding purposes. Taking away one of the reasons dogs are stolen will help protect your dog t=from theft.
A microchip that is registered with a pet database, and whose information is kept up to date will help your dog be returned to you as easily as possible, should the worst happen.
Make sure your dog walker is legitimate
When looking for a dog walker, reach out to friends and family and try and get recommendations. While a dog walker might not be out to steal your dog themselves, not all dog walkers and created equal, some might now be quite as careful with your pooch as you’d like.
Make sure your dog is well trained
A well-trained dog that will return when called and won’t stray too far, will give a potential thief far fewer opportunities to steal your dog, than an untrained or poorly trained dog. Make sure you sign your dog up for a good puppy school and get on top of their behaviour.
Look out for info on local dog walking groups
Joining a good walking group can be very useful for finding out about dog thefts in your area, as well as providing a network of people who can keep an eye out for your dog if it has been taken.
Be careful where you buy your dog from
Carefully selecting who you buy your dog from can help decrease the demand for stolen puppies. Research your seller, make sure they have a good reputation to reduce the likelihood of illegal activity. Or even better try and get your dog from a rescue centre, not only will you be a super-hero, rescuing an unwanted puppy, but you will also further reduce the demand for stolen dogs.
When your dog is alone, make sure he’s out of sight
19% of dogs are taken from breaking into homes and 5% are taken from cars. When you leave your dog at home try to make sure they are not visible from the street and try to avoid leaving them alone in the car altogether. Making simple changes like this can remove the chance for opportunistic thieves do steal your dog.
Statistics from: http://www.pettheft.org.uk/press.php