The Anarchist's Guide To Travel... ing with a rat

croc

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#1
In April I rescued a baby rat with the intention of finding her another home. I've had rats while housed up but traveling with one seemed like more responsibility than I'd prefer. Rats typically do best in pairs or groups but since she was a baby and with me 24/7 she adjusted just fine. Within a couple weeks I'd fallen in love and really didn't like the idea of giving her up. I felt like we'd built up such trust and companionship in the time we spent. A week or so ago I decided to definitely keep her.
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Since there isn't a wild amount of content on here about having travel rats (the other thread is really informative too), here's a bit about my experiences...

What do you feed them?
Pellets/block food should make up about 80% of their diet. The brand I use is oxbow, which is a reputable brand and not over priced. In addition she gets fresh fruits and veggies, some eggs and occasionally (cooked/not seasoned/not greasy) meat. They should have food available to them at all times. Also, for water... I use a little bottle from the pet store with the metal nozzle with the ball in it. I offer her water every time I think of it (usually every hour- couple hours).
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Where do you put them when you sleep?
Cow has a small plastic carrier from petsmart that I keep her in while I'm sleeping. You can definitely train them to stay on you/in your clothes while sleeping but I roll around a lot and don't want to squish the baby.
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When choosing this carrier it was still pretty cold outside so one that was more tank-like was ideal for insulation. This would not be a good carrier for hot weather! There isn't enough ventilation.


Cool, what do you put in the carrier for her?
At first I used ripped up news paper/grocery store fliers or paper towels from public bathrooms. For some god awful reason this lil goon EATS paper! Rats usually chew or shred paper but she literally eats it... So we switched to pieces of fabric like cut up parts of t shirts or a skank. Also since rats' teeth continually grow, you need something for them to chew on. Paper towel/toilet paper rolls are my go-to. If cut into sections, one can last for a while. For water, I use a bottle cap like a Gatorade or water jug one. Just fill it with water before going to sleep. They'll probably knock it over at some point but just give them more when you wake up.



Doesn't the carrier get full of shit and piss?
Yeah, duh. If your rat doesn't eat paper, the paper towels are ideal. They're easily accessible and make it so you can just dump it all out. So since piss is full of ammonia, you GOTTA clean it out daily. If you use fabric, shake it out to get the poop out. It'd be wise to let it air out if you intent to use it for another day. I definitely don't think you should leave it in for more than 2 days without being washed. I cycle through 4 pieces of fabric. Rats have sensitive respiratory systems and issues like upper respiratory infections are often how they die. I'll talk more about health later.



So how do you carry her around during the day?
I have a utility vest with lots of pockets, one of which makes up an entire side of the front. Rats instinctually know to hide since they're preyed upon so they like being tucked away. I leave the zipper open most of the time so if she wants to peek or come out she can. Again, always have food available to them! Unless you potty train your rat to only go in their carrier or on the ground, they're gonna shit n piss in the pocket. You're gonna wanna dump out the poop as often as possible. My usual is 2-4 times a day. They're fucking shit machines dude, I swear.
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I bet that vest smells even more awful than you normally would!
Sure does! It's gross! I hate smelling like piss so doing laundry every few days becomes necessity. If you use fabric instead of paper, that's really important to wash for their respiratory systems.


So tell me more about keeping them healthy...
As stated before, strong smells or irritants like smoke of any kind, ammonia, fuel fumes, perfumes, or scented anything etc are very bad for rats. Their nasal passages are thin and easily irritated. Do. Not. Smoke. Around. Your. Rat!!! Really, unless you're outside and are damn sure the wind is keeping the smoke from them, do not. It's a shitty thing to do to an animal that is trusting you with their life and health.

A healthy (no junk or fast food at all) diet plays a big role in their health. They'll want to and try to eat anything you're eating but it's your responsibility to make sure they don't (of course accidents happen). You can find tons of info online about what fruits, veggies, etc are safe for them. And nooo cheese.

Maybe yall think this is some hippie shit but for real, love and meditation can keep a rat happy and healthy for longer than the average life span. I hold my girl to my chest almost every day, close my eyes, and meditate on sending her love. When rats are happy they "brux" aka grind their lil teeth together and make a chipping sound. She starts bruxing every time as if to say "Ay, you're alright, Dad".

This was definitely mentioned in another rat thread but the heat can absolutely kill your rat. I have yet to care for her away from civilization in the heat, so that part might be tricky. My best guess is to carry an ice pack for as long as it'll stay cold and give them an option to lay on it/near it often. Keep them in the shade. Make sure they stay HYDRATED. And feel free to get them wet to stay cool. Some rats will even swim if given the chance.

As for keeping them warm in the cold, I wrap a jacket around the carrier, leaving the top vent uncovered so she can breathe. The jacket will insulate the carrier. If it's really cold, get some hot hands packs and put one in the jacket against one side of the cage. The same idea as a heat lamp for a reptile, warm one side of the cage but leave the option for a cooler side in case it gets too warm on the other. During the day, your body heat in the pocket should be enough. Adjust accordingly for snowy/icy weather.

Vitamin c tablets are available at most pet stores. Drop one or half of one into their water bottle. This isn't necessary all the time but it can't hurt. If you notice your rat sniffling or sneezing, definitely get these. FEMALE rats can have citrus (clementines are ideal for smol wedges) to boost their immune system.

They're very social so if they don't have another rat buddy you really gotta spend as much time with them as possible. They can become depressed and lethargic if under stimulated or lonely.

Some extra info
Male rats can't have citrus or mangos.

Female rats are prone to tumors. One of mine passed that way.

Male rats are more laid back and lazy. Their pee smells way stronger.

Females are more active and curious.

Hairless rats often have shorter life spans.

Despite their size and reputation, rats are phenomenal pets and just as important as a cat or dog. Neglecting them because they seem disposable or replaceable makes you a piece of fucking shit who deserves to get curb stomped (this is a fact, not an opinion).

Their tails are sensitive, never pick a rat up by the tail unless it's to like keep them from jumping off a cliff or getting eaten.

The average life span is about 2 years. I've heard of one living to 5. The shortest of one of mine was my hairless at 1 year and 1 month.

Conclusively, rats are wonderful pets and great company. Having one on the road is totally doable. I will update once I've hopped a train with her.
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croc

croc

Wanderer
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#3
Is there some way I could replace the water bottle with something more diy?
yeah, absolutely. for the first week or two i would just carry a cap to a naked juice bottle (gatorade and the like would work as well, just bigger than a reg water bottle cap bc they drink that in 2 seconds) and fill that up every couple hours and see if she'd take any.
honestly, i recommend doing both because there were situations where i was on the go or trying to not make it obvious i was carrying an animal and being able to just pull out that bottle.
another idea that came to mind would be an eye dropper or syringe (really hope i don't even need to say an unused syringe with no needle). but they do really like having a water bowl because they wash their hands and face in it.... which is wicked cute
 

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