How to take care of a baby rat?

Introduction: Baby Rats

So you have found a small, lonely rat baby left alone. You want to help it survive, thrive and prosper. Perhaps you’ve had rat pets previously – or you simply have a soft spot for helpless animals. You need not worry. This is the definitive article in taking care of baby rodents. Read on and you will discover all there is to know in taking care of small rats. There are two main ways you can approach your problem. You will either need the help of a willing mother rat that will adopt the baby and help it grow and survive or you will go for the long haul: Taking care of it yourself. The second solution might prove to be considerably harder on you, but it might provide you with substantial psychological gains and a huge sense of accomplishment.

The easy solution: Finding a rat mother

The obvious solution would be finding a rat mother to adopt the little one(s). Assuming there is no willing nursing rat in your immediate environment, your best bet is contacting a pet shop that sells reptiles and breeds rats for snake food. Offer them to buy a nursing mother. Alternatively, you could also try contacting local breeders or rat rescues. As long as the babies are of a comparable age as her own, mother rats nearly always willing to adopt orphans – a thing we could attribute to their largely social nature.

The most efficient way in introducing the babies to their foster mom is putting them on the same cage as their own babies, rubbing them together to exchange scents. That way she will accept them way faster. If everything goes fine, make sure to not disturb the mother. She will take care of cleaning and licking the adopted babies along with her own, keeping them warm and safe. Her intensive care will simultaneously take care of a few things:

  • The babies will be kept clean.
  • Blood circulation will be initiated
  • Bonding between the babies and the mother intensifies, as the mother takes in the small of her little ones.

Keep in mind that mother rats can get aggressive, quick to show their teeth, even to you. So take great care when interacting with her or her offspring in order to avoid any unnecessary complications. Rats mature extremely quickly, so by day twenty two they should be fully developed and start eating solid food though they will still be fed by their mother for about a week. After roughly a month, however, the males should be separated from their foster mother as there is considerable danger that they will impregnate her.

They should still remain within sight as those weeks are very important for their behavior development. After six weeks, they should be able to leave her completely and you may consider giving them to other, caring people.

Raising the baby rats yourself

Raising rat babies completely by yourself is no easy task. However, as rat pups mature extremely quickly, the process should last only about four to six weeks. Their developmental process, in short, goes as follows:

During the first week of their lives, baby rats do not have many of the distinctive rat features – they lack fur, and their eyelids are sealed. Babies get more active as the week progresses. You will have to feed them, clean them as well as stimulate them to urinate and have regular bowel movements. You will also need to keep them warm and protect them. By the end of the second week, they are well on their way to become little rats.

During the third week it is extremely important to interact with them in the form of playing and nurturing them, so that they will adequately develop socially.  They should be able to move around easily, at this point, so their safety will become a major issue for you. They will probably spend less and less time sleeping and more time playing and trying to explore and move around their environment.

The babies will probably be ravenous by now, trying to consume all they can in each session. Be careful not to give them too much extra food, as over supplementation of food could lead to health issues during their later lives. During their fourth week, the babies should be filled with energy and curiosity. If they had a mother, they would slowly start to no longer need her in order to survive – so keep that in mind.

By week five their personalities should be crystallized and well established and each one will show increasingly more individuality. A note of caution is necessary however: By now it is a necessity to separate males and females in order to avoid any unwanted pregnancies as they are in a prime mating condition. On the flip side, however, should you want more rat babies you should let them together and let them work their magic. Just know that rat populations expand exponentially and you might end up with far more babies than you were initially looking for.

Conclusion

You have been armed with all the required knowledge to raise rat babies past the initial, vulnerable stages of their lives. To summarize there are two main ways to tackle the problem: First, you can look for a foster rat mother to adopt the little baby rats and take care of them as if they were her own. That solution would definitely closer to their natural way of growing and it will require much less effort on your part. Therefore, it is a thing to consider for all rat-lovers. Alternatively, you could try to raise them yourself. That will prove to be far more demanding for you but it will end up being extremely satisfying for you. Should you go with the second way, use the aforementioned information to your advantage. Knowledge is power and thus, don’t hesitate to contact an expert doctor if you have any questions.