Tag Archives: rat breeder

Rats might fly (and often do)

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Flea when we first got her, enjoying a strawberry

Flea when we first got her, enjoying a strawberry

Hello all! I’m braving the exasperating tardiness of our problematic internet connection to bring you a bit of info on the process the rat breeders go through to fly our pedigreed rats across the country to meet us 🙂

Our rats’ breeder has enlisted the help of another nearby rat breeder in arranging the flight for us, and I asked her to share a bit of what’s involved…

First, we organise a flight date with the breeder (it’ll be Aug 31st for our new boys!) and she buys the travel boxes. The rats are flown in the same boxes that bird breeders use to travel with birds. The size of the boxes will depend on what is available at the suppliers, as well as how many rats will be sharing a box.

Most breeders will never fly a single rat: only pairs or groups are transported in this way – and of course the kits sharing a box will always be the same sex. The breeder then furnishes the travel box with shredded paper and tissue to absorb urine and for the ratties to hide under if they feel scared. Aww 🙂

You might wonder whether it’s necessary to dose the bubs with some calming meds before the flight. I’ve been told that the breeders generally don’t dose them with anything as most of them don’t need it. That’s the reason they’re never flown alone: they take comfort from being with each other.

And their in-flight meals? The breeders put a little bit of dry food in the travel box, such as lab blocks or Reggie Rat, and often a piece of fruit such as apple or grapes to provide them with a bit of moisture and sugar. Our little newcomers won’t lack a thing!

Recently the laws about flying animals have changed, so a week or so before the flight, our boys have to be checked out by a vet. This is a requirement from the flight companies; animals without a health certificate signed by a vet will not be allowed to fly. The vets check the general health of the ratties: eyes, ears, coat, skin, breathing, no diarrhoea, etc.

Then, on the morning of the flight, everyone gets packed into their boxes and off they go to the airport. The bubs will have to be at the airport two hours before their flight. The airline the breeders use has offices with a pet lounge where animals are put while they wait for flights or wait to be collected, so the rats go here too. Then they’ll be put on their flight and fly for approxamately two hours (almost everywhere in SA takes two hours to get to!). And of course Ninja and I will be anxiously and excitedly waiting to collect them after their plane has landed :mrgreen:

Despite all the TLC and preparation to smooth the way, of course some ratties can get a little freaked out by the flight. So (as difficult as it will be) once we’ve collected the boys and driven safely home, the kindest thing to do is to pop them in their new cage and give them time to adjust. But just as we did when we collected our first rats from the airport, Ninja and I will probably pull up our chairs in front of the cage and quietly enjoy the cuteness.

And of course we’ll have to pay special attention to our dear old furry Flea, whose nose may be a tad out of joint that day 😉

Flea now, also enjoying a strawberry

Flea now, also enjoying a strawberry

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Fluffies!

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Our ratties’ breeder has just sent me some of the latest pics of our boys :mrgreen:

Without further ado, here are Moon and Knight at 24 days old:

Moon and Knight 6

One black tail and one pink one

Moon and Knight 8

Knight washing his face

Moon and Knight 11

They look so fluffy!

Notice Knight's adorable white chin

Notice Knight’s adorable white chin

Moon's beautiful blaze on display

Moon’s beautiful blaze on display

And my boys, Vodka and Mishka:

Just look at Mishka’s huge ears!

Vodka and Mishka 7

Such beautiful silvery brothers

Vodka’s little pink mouth

Vodka and Mishka 11

One look and all resistance crumbles

Vodka and Mishka 16

Curious cuties

Now the countdown really begins… just over a month left until we meet these sweeties 😀

Ah, now we see!

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The baby ratties‘ eyes opened this past week! I told you they just get cuter by the day… :mrgreen:

This is what their breeder had to say about them at this age:

Now with their eyes open they start to explore their cage a little bit. This gives their poor moms a hard time as they still want to keep the babies bundled in the nest; while she is collecting the babies one at a time to carry back to the nest, the ones she has packed back in are passing her on their way out to continue exploring!

Hahaha! 😀

Of course you’ll want to see pictures. But first, I must publish a quick erratum: Ninja told me that his black Berkie isn’t Night – his name is Knight. OK. So now we know 😉

And now for the pics!

Here are Knight (in front) and Moon at 15 days old.

Moon and Knight 1

Their little eyes aren’t fully opened yet, which makes them look adorably sleepy!

Moon and Knight 2

Here you can see Moon’s beautiful blaze. I also like his gentle expression. But it looks like he can be playful too!

Moon and Knight 3

I love how ratties always need to be close to other ratties 🙂

Moon and Knight 4

And here are my boys, also at 15 days of age. Say hello to Mishka and Vodka:

Vodka and Mishka 1

You can see Mishka’s big round dumbo ears quite clearly in some of these pics. Here he is striking a pose…

Vodka and Mishka 2

Don’t these ratties just look so clean and shiny? 🙂 And that beautiful grey-blue colouring goes well with the snowy white for a truly Russian-themed pair!

Vodka and Mishka 5

It’s an overload of cuteness and I am so excited to meet them! They look infinitely cuddly 😛

Vodka and Mishka 4

It’s amazing to think that only two short weeks ago, these little guys were helpless, hairless pinkies. Ratties’ lives are so short, so I’m glad to enjoy each stage of their development.

Our old girl Flea is getting noticeably older now. She’s our first ratty to survive into old age with us, so it’s a new experience. While it’s always sad to see the slow decline of an animal that you’ve loved, there are positive sides to her ageing too. The best part is how much she asks for affection and wants to be close to us. She was never a ‘lap ratty’ until her op and of course the loss of her sister, but since then she spends much longer with us outside the cage before showing signs she wants to go back.

We are doing all we can to keep her warm, loved and well-fed, and we hope she’ll keep going strong to see her 2nd birthday at the end of August and the arrival of the new boys a few weeks later.

Precious old girl

Precious old girl

Meet the parents…

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As you may have guessed, our new rats are not just ‘any old rodents’ :mrgreen:

They’re Wheatfields bubs, sourced from one of the best-loved pedigreed-rat breeders in South Africa. And I’m not the only one who thinks so.

Among the members of our lively South African rat club, Wheatfields Rattery is known for raising beautiful, healthy and exceptionally well-socialised fancy rats. Everyone speaks fondly of their ‘WF kids’. Our first male pet rats, Scribble and Muesli, were Wheatfields boys too.

So it’s with that as a backdrop that I present to you the parents of our new furballs… *drumroll please*

Litter 1

This beautiful boy is Count Fleet, dad to the kittens of Litter 1. He’s a handsome black roan badger husky, with those huge dumbo ears that I’ve been longing to see in in a rat of my own 🙂

WF Count Fleet

WF Count Fleet

Count Fleet was mated to this gentle-looking Russian Blue striped roan girl, who has standard ears. Her name is Salvia, and isn’t she stunning? I’m a big fan of that soft silvery-blue colouring.

WF Salvia

Litter 2

You’d be forgiven for thinking it, but no, this isn’t our current girl Flea!

Meet Salix, the father of Litter 2. He’s a fine glossy black Berkshire gentleman with standard ears, and apparently a lovely personality to match.

WF Salix

WF Salix

And last but not least, this pretty lass is Juniper. She’s a black striped roan, also with standard ears, and mom to the bubs of Litter 2. That little round tummy of hers is just begging to be kissed! 😉

WF Juniper

WF Juniper

With such a varied lineage it was anyone’s guess as to what would turn up in the litters, but when we saw the resulting boys, we were smitten…

Stay tuned for the next installment: choosing and booking the boys! 😀

The waiting list

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After much discussion and debate, Ninja and I have finally decided on a way forward with our rat owning. As I’ve mentioned before, we were concerned that Flea might get lonely being an only rat. It really is preferable to keep rats in pairs or groups, but of course life isn’t always as clean-cut as that…

Flea enjoying some oranges (Please note: never feed oranges to male rats!)

At first we considered getting a neutered male of Flea’s age to join her as a companion. After inquiring with our fellow rat club members and discussing it at length, however, we realised we may as well begin the process of getting the new young male rats we were hoping to get one day when Coffee and Flea had passed away.

And so we’ve taken the first step in purchasing a pedigreed fancy rat (or four!) :mrgreen: We’ve contacted a reputable breeder (the same lady who raised our amazing agouti badger husky rats, Scribble and Muesli) and asked to be placed on the waiting list for four boys from two litters she has planned – two boys each for Ninja and I.

We feel ready, after having owned five rats in total so far (I’m also counting Mizu, our very first rat from years ago; a little petshop rescue who opened my eyes to the joys of rat owning), to now have more than one rat each. No doubt it’ll be quite an adventure! 🙂

The idea is that we’ll get four young boys and keep them separate from Flea at first. Then we hope to have at least two of them neutered as soon as they’re the right age (between 2 and 6 months old, I believe). Neutering has several benefits apart from allowing males to live with females, including avoiding testicular cancer and reducing excesses of aggression. Often it keeps the boys’ fur softer as well, with a chance of a bit less oily ‘buck grease’ forming on their backs.

Once the month-long ‘safety window’ has passed for the neutered males to be rendered infertile, we can begin the process of introducing them to Flea. If all goes well with that and once our budget has recovered, we’ll hopefully get the other two males neutered so we call put all our ratties together. It’s something we’ve never done before, but many other rat owners have done it successfully, so we’re going to give it a try. At least then our old lady Flea will have some toy boys companions to cuddle with 😀

It’s all sooooo exciting! And I thought it might be interesting to blog about it as the process unfolds, for those of you who are curious or who may still be a bit wide eyed at the idea of going to so much trouble for rats! 😉