This article is from the WSSF 2004 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Karen Robbins
Joanne Wormald, Delray Beach, FL
QI have six rats of my own, and I think they are great pets. After buying the rats, I have done a lot of reading on rat care. Many of the books recommend spaying and neutering. I have four females and two boys and have heard that neutering stops males from urine marking which is a pet hate of mine. Is this true? I would also like to be able to let the boys and girls run together. In summary, could you tell me if there is more benefit to spaying the girls than to neuter the boys or vice versa. Or whether there is no benefit (health or otherwise) at all.
AIn an article in our May/June 1996 issue, it was suggested spaying female rats did decrease their incidence to tumor development. However, you need to keep in mind this is major surgery and very few vets that treat rodents know how to do this procedure. Neutering the males is usually a safer alternative and more vets know how to do this surgery. Usually neutering is not suggested unless there are temperament issues with the boys, requiring them to be snipped. In your case where you want them to be able to play with the girls without any pregnancies to worry about, then it would be better to neuter the boys. Yes, neutering does decrease the urine marking.
Lynn Lehman, Racine, WI
QIs it possible to put another mouse in with one that lost her friend, or will they fight and kill each other? Daisy is about 2½ years old but still going strong, but since her friend of the same age passed on, she seems quite lonely. She used to be quite fat, then she lost a little weight when her friend passed on, but now she’s fine weight wise again. I have another pair of females, as well as two other cages that have five females in one, seven in the other, so I thought I could put her with one or two others so she’s not all alone.
AIt all depends on the mice. When introducing new cagemates, its best to thoroughly clean and disinfect the cage, water bottle, all toys, wheels, houses, etc., that they will be in, then put them all together at once. You can put in a handful of treats for everyone to enjoy while they are getting used to each other. Sometimes there will be some initial scuffling to establish the new pecking order, other times, there are no disagreements whatsoever. As long as any initial fighting is brief and no blood is drawn, then things should be fine. If you find one instigator of the bunch that does not stop in fighting with the new ones, then you would need to take that one out and try a different one. You can also put a little vanilla extract on their noses before putting them all together so they all smell the same to hopefully eliminate any fighting. For my mice, if I put together any new cagemates and there is fighting of any sort, then I take out the culprit immediately, and things are fine after that.
Laurel Summerfield, Burke, VA
QPeople have the most negative reaction when I say rats. Is it better on your side of the country? How do you improve the reputation of them? I always tell people, if you got to know rats, you’d never buy another gerbil or hamster again.
AIt is better in these parts, but it wasn’t easy. Keep in mind that AFRMA has been putting on displays and going out and educating the public since 1983 in southern California. It does make a big difference. It helps to have an organized group and be able to go out to events and show people what great pets rats make. You might try and get in touch with some of the local pet shops and see if they would let you put on a mini display one day during the weekend with some of your rats and talk to people. You can also get in contact with the club on the east coast and see if they have anything happening in your area that you could get involved with and help out.
Ronny Sugarman, Denver, CO
QI am looking for a 10-gallon long terrarium with no holes, or holes on the side rather than the bottom—10 gallon is my first choice, 15 is okay; must be 11 inches or 12 inches (preferred) high. I have a regular 10 gal (I was using a 20 but I noticed they liked smaller cages). Currently, I have maneuvered three wheels into the 10 gal along with two houses. They seem to be doing fine, but I wonder if they need more floor space. With just two wheels, everyone wanted to ride at once. I have seven mice girls at the moment.
ASeven mice with all the wheels and houses in a 10 gal is a bit small. Seven wouldn’t be too many for a 10 gal if you only had one wheel and one house, and a couple tubes/tunnels.
I’ve never heard of a 10 gal long terrarium—only a 20 gal long. Perhaps what you need is a 15-gal tank. They are usually the same height as a 10 gal. You might try going on the Internet and searching for what size you are looking for—you might try herpetologist sites to see if they have the right size.