Why I Added This Page
I get alot of enquiries from people who aren't sure whether they should take a buck or doe, what colour, what they should expect from the gender they've chosen, ect. This page is here to help answer some of those questions, dispel a few myths, and help you decide which rat would be more suitable for you.
Bucks vs. Does
The most common question is: Should I get a boy or a girl? Both genders have their pros and cons.
For bucks, the pros are:
- They're more relaxed than does. They're slower moving and I find them to be easier to handle because of this.
- They're more affectionate. Because of them being slower, they're easier to cuddle. However, there are always exceptions to the rules!
- They're bigger. Many people prefer larger rats, and males are usually bigger than females.
For bucks, the cons are:
- They've got a rougher coat. Bucks have longer guard hairs on their coats, which gives a slightly rough quality to it.
- They occasionally scent mark. However, their urine isn't very strong-smelling, so this usually isn't an issue.
For does, the pros are:
- They are more active. Does are usually much more energetic than bucks.
- They've got a smoother coat. Does lack the long guard hairs that the bucks possess, so their coats are softer.
- They're smaller. Does are generally smaller than bucks.
For does, the cons are:
- They go on heat every 5 days. This greatly increases the chance of pregnancy (which is why all of mine are sold in same-sex pairs).
- They're are slightly more prone to tumours, especially mammary tumours. These can be removed surgically, and diet plays a significant role in reducing the chances of them forming.
Your own preferance obviously comes into play. I personally prefer male rats. I like the chunkier body and the chilled-out nature.
Which colour you pick is personal preference. Blues are extremely popular as is Siamese. Colour in no way dictates the personality of the rat.
The two ear types available are Standards (or Top Ear) and Dumbos. Standard ears are what you normally see on a rat. Dumbos have wide round low-set ears. Dumbo eared rats are generally 'squishier' than Standards, but there are exceptions!
We currently only have two coat types in SA: Harley and Standard (Smooth). Standard-coated rats are what you normally see on most rats. Harleys have soft plush fur. However, they can be more sensitive to scratches and certain foods.
Dispelling The Myths
There are alot of myths and old-wives' tales regarding rats. I'm going to clear a few of those up!
- You can't keep male rats in same-sex groups
Most rats can and will live in same-sex pairs or groups, provided they are introduced properly. Socialising at an early age also plays a key role in their attitude to other rats throughout their lives, but older rats can also be taught to be social. Gandalf, my Blue Hooded boy lived a solitary life til he was 7 months old. I got him from someone after his owner's dog attacked him. It took a little work, but he was put into a group of bucks, where he became the alpha male. One thing to be remembered is that all animals (not only rats) are individuals, and should be treated as such. There will always be exceptions to the rules, but for most part, rats prefer living in colonies. (If you keep a mixed colony of bucks and does, all your bucks or all your does should be neutered.)
- Rats with pink eyes are evil.
I kid you not; people believe this. No rat is evil. And certainly not rats with pink or red eyes. The only difference is that pink-eyed rats sometimes sway to help focus their vision a bit better, but otherwise, they're exactly the same as black-eyed rats.
- Rats are rodents like hamsters, so they can be kept like hamsters.
Rats may be rodents, but they are NOT hamsters! Rats have their own special requirements. They need a different food (hamsters require 24% protein, rats require 14% protein in their diets), larger cages (rats are bigger and much more active) and they cannot be kept on sawdust (this causes all kinds of breathing problems).
- Rats are dirty and carry disease.
Rats spend 25-30% of their time cleaning themsleves. They are meticulous about their hygiene. In fact, does that have just given birth will eat the soiled bedding so as not to attract predators and insects. Alot of people believe that rats are dirty because "they live in the sewers". Yes, they live down there, but it's because they are scavengers. The sewers are the perfect place to pick up leftovers. It actually our mess down there, not theirs. You will find a rat in a dirty cage can become sick very quickly.
Domestic rats don't carry disease. Yes, they can get sick, but so can we (Nobody's immortal!). Rats, themeslves did not carry the bubonic plague (Black Death). It was the fleas on the rats that carried the plague. And domestic rats don't (or shouldn't) have fleas, so no worries there. And unless your rat has been bitten by a wild animal with rabies, you don't need to worry about that either.
- Rats aren't very smart
Rat are extremely smart. My rats know their individual names, come when they're called, a few of them kiss and Pim even jumps to me from a table if I ask her to. Rats are extremely trainable and are like small dogs. Hey, they even flip eachother over for discliplining like dogs do.