The popularity of decorative rats as pets is steadily increasing. And this is not surprising, because decorative rats are distinguished by intelligence and ingenuity, show exceptional friendliness to humans and do not require complex care. The only drawback of these wonderful animals is their short lifespan.
The lifespan of rats
Wild rats living on the streets usually live no more than a year. Tame rats, living comfortably in a home environment, live on average from 1.5 to 2-2.5 years. Among decorative rats, there are also centenarians who have crossed the three-year line. Very rarely, rats live 4 years or more. The longest lifespan of a tame rat is recorded in the Guinness Book of Records and is 7 years. The lifespan of rats is influenced by two factors: habitat and genetics.
To increase the chances of a rat to live to a ripe old age, you should create the most favorable conditions for it, which include proper balanced nutrition, timely medical care and competent care.
The rat's diet should be 80% dry whole grains (wheat, corn, rye, millet, rice, oats, buckwheat, barley) and 20% fresh vegetables and herbs (cucumbers, carrots, pumpkin, parsley, dill). The cage should always have fresh water and mineral feeding - a special stone for rodents (no salt). It is useful to feed rats, especially during the period of active growth, with lean boiled meat (chicken, turkey, rabbit, offal) and hard-boiled eggs. Also, rats can be given small amounts of nuts (peanuts, cashews, sweet almonds, hazelnuts) and fruits (apples, bananas, grapes, dates). The rat breeders noticed that the addition of sprouted cereals to the diet has a positive effect on the health and life expectancy of rats.
A veterinarian who treats ornamental rats is called a ratologist. In many large cities there are such doctors in some veterinary clinics. They provide highly qualified specialized care, if necessary, they can perform an operation on a rat that will save its life. Unfortunately, there are usually no ratologists in small settlements. However, before introducing a pet rat, it is advisable to find a veterinarian who can give at least general recommendations for curing the pet when needed.
Competent care of a rat means buying a sufficiently spacious cage and arranging it (houses, hammocks, ladders) to make it interesting for the rat to be there. In addition, it is important to use high-quality filler - corn or paper. Wood fillers are not suitable because of the essential oils they contain, which adversely affect the health of the rat: they destroy the cells of the lungs and trachea, and stress the liver.
In addition to living conditions, heredity has a great influence on the lifespan of rats. It is better to take a rat from breeders who not only receive offspring from healthy parents, but also provide newborn animals with competent care. Mating of decorative rats in nurseries always go according to plan, and not randomly. To obtain offspring, healthy adults are selected that do not show aggressiveness and other undesirable character traits. Females in nurseries, as a rule, bring no more than two litters in a lifetime. Too frequent pregnancies are undesirable as they drain the rat. In addition, small rat pups with poor health are born as a result of multiple or too early pregnancies.
Pet rats sold at pet stores are often born as a result of unscheduled mating. Usually no one monitors the health of parents. Rats of both sexes live together in cramped cages, which is unacceptable. Under normal conditions, male and female rats are housed in the same cage only for scheduled mating. The rest of the time, domestic rats should live in same-sex flocks. In most pet stores, these conditions are not met, rats mate uncontrollably and too often, which, of course, does not have the best effect on the health and vitality of the offspring.
The dangers of a tame rat
Sometimes domestic rats do not live their time due to the carelessness of the owners. The most common reasons for the premature death of decorative rats: contact with other domestic animals (cats, dogs), gnawing electrical wires, eating plants poisonous for them. The following plants are deadly for rats: spurge, nightshade, ivy, laurel, rhododendron, Kalanchoe, azalea, fern, aloe, amaryllis, geranium, hyacinth, cyclamen, myrtle, dieffenbachia, carnation, mistletoe, tulip, daffodil, lily of the valley.