This article is from the WSSF 2006 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Karen Robbins
Candy Evans, Wenonah, NJ
QThank you Karen for the beautiful mice. We are very, very excited and happy to have them. I’m thinking of trying to talk my dad into cleaning out the old rabbit shed he built for my sister and let me have it to re-fit for the mice. Might be a good project for over the winter!!
AIf you can heat the rabbit shed in the winter and keep it cool in the summer, then it sounds like a good choice. Also, the mice need lots of nesting material (shredded napkins, hay, tubes, houses, shredded corn husk, etc.) when it gets cold. They also like nesting material to some extent during the warmer months. Over in England they use meadow hay or shredded paper (like the kind you get in an office) for the nesting material. Some breeders keep them in outdoor sheds or garages and some keep them indoors in a spare room. I use the toilet paper/paper towel/large cardboard tubes, Kleenex boxes, other cardboard containers (or Shepherd Shacks®) for single males for the housing, and give them shredded napkins, timothy hay, or shredded corn husk for nesting material. For the moms, they get shredded napkins only. Once the babies are up and running around, then I give them TP tubes. I start out moms in a smaller cage when they have their babies, then once the babies are running around, move them into bigger accommodations.
Matthew Freeze, phone call
QI got your name from the Rats: Fun & Care book. I have a rat that I’ve spoiled by giving her lobster and crab and now she won’t eat anything but that. It’s gotten really expensive to feed her just this. She has babies and is very thin having to feed all the kids. The kids will eat the rat mix and other stuff I give them, but not mom. What do I do?
AMy concern is the amount of protein she is getting with that much meat. Even though lobster and crab are low in fat and cholesterol, they are high in protein. Remember rats are omnivores, eating both plant and animal products. They will eat just about anything, but their diet should be mostly plant based. A diet of a high-quality lab block as the base along with raw veggies, some fruits, and dry healthy cereals should be fed. These can be kale, carrots, broccoli, frozen peas, banana, avocado, grapes, whole wheat pasta, brown rice, rice cakes, whole wheat bread, whole wheat spaghetti noodles, Total cereal, shredded wheat, Cheerios, puffed wheat/rice/millet, etc. With the addition of having to raise babies, moms can benefit by additional goodies such as a high-quality dog or cat kibble, dog biscuits, etc., while they are nursing. If you have a large litter, the babies will need additional calories and should also get some extra protein and fat in the dog/cat kibble and dog biscuits.
If you are unable to get a good lab block in your area, then a good quality rat mix such as Reggie Rat along with added dog kibble, dog biscuits, and the fresh goodies are an alternate. Don’t forget to give the lab blocks or Reggie Rat/dog kibble free choice and give the extras once or twice a day. Don’t give so much extra goodies that they pig out on the extras and don’t get enough of their balanced diet of blocks or that they leave a lot of fresh stuff leftover to spoil. Provide plenty of clean fresh water in a water bottle, keep their cage clean, and give lots of attention to the babies.
For the mom, you will have to slowly wean her off of the lobster/crab diet. Give her a dish of fresh goodies and a little of the lobster/crab in the bottom so she has to dig through the good stuff to get to her favorite treat. Over a period of several days, keep reducing the amount of lobster/crab until you no longer have to feed that to her. Keep lots of the proper nutritious food in her cage for her to munch on. Even though she may beg you for her favorite treat, a rare treat is all this should be.