Phoenix Gate Rattery's Application & Afterward Guide
In an effort to better help those individuals and families that are interested in adopting from us, we have put together a guide in preparation for filling out our adoption application and the process of getting ready to take home your new babies. The products recommended are by no means are they the only items and products you have to get however the not recommended ones are not suggested for use at all as they are either not safe, not health or not in the rat's best interest and will not be accepted on an application for adoption pre-approval.
Going Through the Adoption Application
The application is meant as a tool for me to better get to know new potential homes my babies will be going to and for you to know if your ready to adopt and take on the responsibility of having pet rats. I ask that people be as specific as possible here to better help them become better rat parents and provide the best optimal rat-specific care as possible.
Your Information Section
Please note that I am no longer adopting to families with young children (6 and under). There are many reasons for this but the happiness, well-being and safety of all the rats I produce and place is of the most importance. Since this seems to get missed often or questioned whether or not I would stick to this policy I wanted to reiterate that here. See the next section for more specifics on having rats and kids under one roof.
Rats and Children
Having pet rats and learning about their care and responsibility is awesome for families with children. However, rats are not always the best option for every interested family and considerations need to be made and adapted when considering rats as family pets. Here are some things to consider when deciding to adopt rats as your family pet:
- The Legal Responsibility - As the adult of the home, the parent(s)/guardian(s) is the legal caretaker and owner of the animals in the home. We cannot enter into any legal contract (and adoption paper) with anyone under 18 years of age. Ultimately the final care, safety and wellbeing of the rats falls under the parent(s)/guardian(s). A child should not be put in full and final responsibility in the care and socializing of the rats, this should always be done primarily by the adult with the children present to participate and help.
- Playtime & Handling Considerations - Rats are delicate creatures that can easily be mishandled or improperly cared for that can led to avoidable illness, injury and death. Supervision of the rats needs to be a 24/7 thing by the parents and any handling and interaction/playtimes need to be carefully watched and monitored closely as well. Some rats are very active and squirmy so safe play areas need to be set up and used. This can be a bed, a couch, a playpen set up etc so that the rats can safely play and interact with their humans. Children should be instructed to sit down first in the designated play area and the rats brought to them by the parent(s)/guardian(s) and supervised during and put back up by the parent(s)/guardian(s) as well. Within the play area there should be places for the rats to run to and hide if they frighten at all times. This may be an igloo house, a modified box with holes cut out for them to get into, PVC piping, blankets and ferret hideaway toys. I do not recommend full room playtime or on the floor free range out time setups generally due to the increased chance for injury/death and it is not the optimal safe and comforting interaction method between you and the rats. These should only be attempted by experienced rat owners with proper room to do such a setup and not recommend for homes with children where rats can easily get stepped on, smashed or get lost. Children will need to learn how to safely handle and carry rats with parental instruction and supervision. Bonding pouches, small carriers (see Transport Cage below) and shoulder training are great ways to safely transport rats from their cages around the house. A bonding pouch can simply be a soft cloth shoulder bag with a flap or something similar with an open top that is big enough to carry one to a few rats around in.
- Location of the Cage - We do not recommend that the rat's cage be kept in a child's bedroom. Rats are noctural creatures and will be up at night, possibly depriving the child of needful good night's sleep. Its also harder to completely suprevise any and all interactions and care needs when the cage is tucked away in a far off bedroom depending on the child to be fully responsile for it. It is recommended in general that cages be kept in the family's main living areas so tha tthey can be part of the family during family time and daily life.
- The Right Mindset - It is important to have the right mindset and preperation for adopting and owning pet rats for the whole family. These pet rats should be considered family pets, not a specific child's pet. While that child may be the main caretaker, it is up to the family to provide the supporting care and socialization needed as well as the parents to make sure the financail and medical needs are meet. Having pet rats should be a family event and united mindset.
Your Preferences Section
This section lets me know what you might be interested on a phenotypic (physical looks) level. However those who are wanting specific looks including wanting only females, non-white color and no red eyes must be willing to wait for them as I do not breed to fill pet orders. I also encourage those who do not currently have other rats in their household consider the pros/cons of having males vs females and to be sure to get the right facts first before firmly settling on only one sex. In choosing females only you will most likely be on the wait list for longer since this is the sex most commonly asked for.
Basic Care Section
This seems to be the section that most often gets left blank or that needs the most review. Here is a recommendation guide for the care products and items suggested to be obtained prior to bringing home any rat(s). Recommended is the top picks and what I would recommend, suggested items are those that are suitable possibly but not necessarily the best for one reason or anther and not recommended is not to be used. If you have any questions about whether the cage or item you've bought or plan to use is suitable, this is the section to ask about it.
- Transport Cage- Needs to be large enough to comfortably and safely house two rats in it from babyhood into adulthood (ie, it should be roomy enough so that you can use the same carrier throughout the rat's life and hold at least 2+ rats comfortably). When purchasing or selecting a carrier one should consider such things as comfort, security, how escapee proof is it and how durable. Recommended travel cages are: Modified Plastic Bins, Martin's Travel Cages, PetMate Cabin Kennel, Living World Small Pet Carrier. Suitable carriers are: Super Pet My First Home for Pet Rats, assorted cat carriers (front bar spacing must be as close to 1/2 inch as possible). Not recommended travel cages are: habitat tanks, Kaytee Keep A Critter, Super Pet Take Me Home Pet Carrier, live animal traps, a box/bag or otherwise no-lidded container, glass tanks/aquariums, cloth carriers, card board carriers (like you get from the pet stores), some hamster/mice cages, large cat or dog carriers, Critter Trail setups (any size, any design).
- Main Housing Cage- Needs to be large enough to suitably house the number of rats you are getting plus a few more future additions safely, comfortably and security. It also needs to have small enough bar spacing so that small babies to large adult can be housed in it (ie, buy a cage that will work for your rat's entire life) and make sure the overall design is based on a rat's needs and comfort overall. Recommended cages are: Critter Nation (either single 160 or double 161), Martin's Cages (models R-680, R-685 and R-695 in powder coated option). Suitable cages are: Petco Rat Manor Habitat (small overall, rusts/breaks easily, cheaply made), Super Pet Deluxe My First Home Large Exotics (flimsy, breaks easily, poor design, plastic based, very chewable), My First Home Deluxe Large & Extra Large (bar spacing wide, only for adults/large rats), Deluxe My First Home, Multi-Floor Extra Large (plastic based, hard to clean), Prevue Hendryx Frisky Ferret Cage (wide bar spacing), Ferret Nation (wide bar spacing), Marshall Mansion (wide bar spacing). Not recommended: Habitat Defined Rat Habitat (bad design, small levels, useless ladders, all plastic, flimsy, hard to clean), Kaytee Multilevel Home for Exotics (all plastic, bad design, flimsy, small levels), aquariums/glass tanks/modified plastic bins (poor air circulation, unsafe, small area with less usable space), Super Pet My First Home Deluxe 2x2 Multilevel (bar spacing too wide, plastic based, cheaply made, ladders not optimal for rats), rabbit hutches (wood based, not designed for rats), Kaytee Rabbit Home, Kaytee Guinea Pig Home, Deluxe My First Home for Critters (too small), My First Home Tank Topper (do not use tanks).
- Cage Accessories - Recommended items: Super Pet Igloo, Wodent Wheels, Super Pet Waffle Blocks, Planet Petco Bend-A-Bridge Small Animal Chew Toy, Super Pet Simple Sleeper Small Animal Play Tunnel, Super Pet Fuzz-E-Floor Sleeper Small Animal Hammock, cloth made cubes, cloth based hammocks in general, most bird toys/hanging chew toys/ropes. Suitable items are FerreTrail Fun-nel Tube Maze, Super Pet Chinchilla Hut (wood based), Planet Petco Small Animal Hideaway (wood based, hard to clean), Super Pet Critter Cuddle Cup (not all rats use them), WARE Farmer's Market Nature's House for Rabbits (easily destroyed). Not Recommended Items: Silent Spinners (too small for rats), any kind of wire based wheel (dangerous), Rolling Balls (Please DON'T put your rat in running balls)
- Cheap or Free Cage Accessories - Toilet paper tubes, PVC piping, using cloth napkins/place mats as hammocks, jean legs cut to make hanging tubes, card board boxes, plastic organizing baskets for lookout spots,
- Bedding - Recommended is a system of fleece/fabric/liners. Suitable bedding is Carefresh Ultra (white), aspen, some pellet litters (hard on feet, foreign materials have found in some), Sanichips from Harlan (can be messy), Kaytee Soft Sorb Bedding (can be messy). Not recommended is Carefresh natural (too dusty), corn cob (hard, sharp, accelerates bacteria growth), walnut shavings (they just eat it), any other wood besides aspen (toxic), paper towels/newspaper (dirty, dusty, unclean), cat litter (may be used in litter boxes only), Kaytee Soft-Sorbent Lavender Scented Bedding (strong odor).
- Feeding Your Rats - See our Rat Diet page.
- Rat-Qulified Veterinarian - There seems to always be some confusion on this part of the application so to clarify, I require adopters to have a vet who does see rats before they take home anyone. This vet can be their current vet (just ask them!) or a new one that they have found (one listing is my Georgia Vet List). With the vet, one needs to be familiar with how they do things (procedures, surgeries, etc) and well as their costs (how much does it cost for the visit, a spay, a tumor removal, an euthanasia, etc.). Some vets are very pricey in what they charge and I don't want it to be a surprise on the eve of life or death for the rat or that someone opts out of treatment because they can't pay for it. There are vets who are economical and fair in their prices and some that are way too high. For instance, my vet charges $35 for the visit for any number of rats to be sen and nothing for repeat visits of those cases. Spays are $70 and neuters are $95, tumor removals are $60 and euthanasia is $20. Some vets will charge the higher prices as they either don't really want to see rats and just aren't wanting to tell you that or turn away business or they really don't have the experience to adequately price out their procedures. Both of these are red flags to me in a vet and I certainly don't want to use them and would like to know that before an emergency comes up. The other part of this is the procedures part, some vets are sloppy and some vets are inexperienced which can lead to sloppy/excessive cutting. While unintentional, it still not fair to put the rats through that so I try to located vets that have a good hand in surgery and make the minimal amount of cuts needed. Ones not really going to be able to ask this outright (and probably won't recommend anyone doing this) with the vets at first but you can gauge it based on their level of experience working with small animals and how much surgery practice they get daily (which can be asked). Other considerations are how they do euthanasia. Never let them do a 'live' heart stick, ie they should not be conscious when this is done. Ultimately one should be okay and comfortable with how they do things and their pricing with any vet they choose. Its recommended to have a few vets lined up just in case one is not open or closes down when you really need them.
Your Current Rats Section
This section is for those who currently have rats at their residence and plan on housing the new rats at the same location. Questions here involve how to do quarantine and introductions.
- Quarantine Requirements - A proper quarantine requires that the new rats be held at an off site location for a period of 5 weeks with adequate precautions taken when going from one colony to the other. Some possible locations are, a friend’s home, the home of a family member, a neighbor, a climate controlled out building, or at your job. It is advisable to have someone else care for the quarantined rats rather than risk bringing diseases home that can be carried on your person, or clothing. If there is no alternative, upon returning to your home, shed your clothes outside and immediately shower. Most individuals and families don't have this luxury however and so an 'In-home' quarantine must be done at the minimum. This involves putting any new rat(s) in a separate room or area but still one that is still within the same HVAC air flow. This method, along with stringent hand washing, can be useful for preventing the spread of certain bacteria or parasites but is not effective for containing airborne viruses such as SDA, Sendai or Parvovirus and puts the resident rats at risk for infection. Ideally an In-home quarantine is not recommended as an advisable method, particularly if one is bringing in rats from high-risk scenarios or if breeding.
- Rat-to-rat Introductions - Recommended introduction methods of rat to rat includes the use of quarantine, alleviating scents, neutral ground and methods for returning the rats into a communal cage. The process must be done slowly with patience and proper procedures or one risks the life and limb of their current pets as well as the new ones. Obviously introducing intact males and females is prohibited as breeding of Px rats is not allowed and you will not be able to adopt an intact alternative sexed baby/babies from me. Proper introduction methods can be discussed during the time or application, at the adoption day pick up and any time following an adoption should questions and concerns arise.
The Adoption Day Pickup & After
Important notes about the pickup and days following the adoption are as such. These are meant to help the transition period for the babies in your home, help the bonding process and help keep your rats happy and healthy so that you may have them for as long as possible.
- Keep them on the right diet - Diet is probably one of the most important things you can do to keep a rat healthy and longer lived. Diet includes not only what kinds of foods they are fed but also how they are fed and how much. A restricted diet is highly encouraged! Rats on a restricted calories diet live longer and generally have fewer health problems that are associated with over weight and poor diets. Rats at Px are fed a main diet of Harlan Teklad block that is given out in restricted amounts multiple times a day so that there is little to no hoarding behaviors, the nutrition and calorie intake is spread out throughout the day and their is little chance for over eating and too much weight gain. Specifics about what I feed my rats is on my Diet page.
- Keep their environment right - A second important step in the health and vitality of your rats is restricting or lessening environmental risks. This includes keeping a cage clean and properly bedded to lessen respiratory irritants, odor buildups and toxic fumes. Bedding options have already been discussed in the application phase but here at Px I highly recommend that a system of fabric be used over any pellet, clay, paper, or wood based bedding. I have found that the rats are happier because they have soft comfortable areas to lay in, the cage is easier to keep clean because the fabric acts as a liner and absorber, there is little to no dust or irritants that they are immediately or long term exposed to and its cheaper and more economical to simply wash the bedding than to constantly be having to purchase and throw away disposable beddings.
- Quarantine concerns and a persistent quarantine - This persistent quarantine applies now that you have your own pet rats and anytime you might be exposed to another rat(s), other rodent, rabbit or guinea pig or if you visit any pet stores that maintains live pets for sale (even if they are housed in the back off the show floor). Once a colony is determined to be in good health a persistent quarantine scenario can help keep it that way. There are additional recommendations that you can follow: Avoid pet stores that sell rats, do not handle rats at pet stores or shelters, have fellow rat fanciers wash up before visiting, avoid housing rats in areas where wild rats have access, avoid taking your rats to rat inclusive events, avoid constantly adding to your colony. (it is safer to get rats less often and quarantine them well). If you are exposed to outside rats, clean up as soon as you return home or wait awhile before going into your home. SDA and Sendai will only remain contagious when away from the host for approximately 3 hours.
- No Breeding! - Breeding is not premitted with Px rats unless you have recieved wirtten premission to do so under a mentorship with me. The reasons for this polciy is multifold but for pet owners the improtance comes at the breeding,pregnancy, birthing and nursing health risks to the rats involved and the possible issues that could arise from genetic missteps and miscombinations.
- Update Health & DOD Information with Px - One of the key ways to better ensure a healthy baby you get from me is to keep me updated about health issues that may arise and when the time comes, the date of death and possible reasons for death/necropsy info. This allows for me to keep track of the lines currently breeding so that everyone including the current adopters, past adopters and any future adopters will have vital information about lifespan, common aliments, potential life threatening issues and what to expect during the lifetime of the of their rats. This also gives me more information for which to make an educated and informed decision about what pairs to breed in the future. Another aspect of this is to allow for a 'second opinion' aspect in the treatment of illnesses for past adopters. By checking in with me, I can offer a second opinion based on my experience or what my vet, lab contacts or fellow veteran breeders may have experienced or have had successful treatments. often a second opinion has meant life or death of past cases and sometimes a new innovative treatment option arises that is more optimal that wouldn't have been known or tried otherwise. This spreads the knowledge and helps other fellow rat owners who may be seeing the same issues and symptoms as you are and may be a lifesaver to them. Necropsies are not mandatory but are highly suggested. These can be done by your trusted vet or sent off to a diagnostics lab that can do thorough testing and full diagnoses. Currently the best local option for this is the Veterinary Sciences School at University of Georgia. Your current vet must be the one to prepare and send off the body and the cost usually runs around $100 or so but this is a full diagnosis, necropsy and tissue testing. There are other options that are not local and less expensive, please contact me about these options if interested. Necropsies can often offer up some solace in a death and give us important information about what may have happened and how well/healthy the rat lived. This information can thus be applied to current rats, to others who have related rats and to breeding lines here so that an even more informative selection can be done.
- Daily Rat Health Checks - This part goes hand and hand with the health updates section and involves the daily lookover and checkup of your rats for any indications and /or symptoms that something is not right and medical attention is needed. Rats should get daily out time and human interaction already so integrating a system of daily check overs becomes easy to initiate and maintain. Daily rat health checks involve physically handling and looking at critical key spots on the rat's body for illness (discharges, bleeding, odors, weight loss, respiratory noises, sneezing, etc) or conditions (growths, broken limbs, hind end paralysis, etc ). If something is noted, it is important that it be handled and taken care of ASAP. A rat's health can go down hill in a matter of hours and death immanent within a day of a serious health issue such as pnemonia or non stop bleeding issues. Immediately a rat should be stabilized as much as possible in the home and taken to a vet right away. At home care treatment for serious illness should not be taken lightly or by those who are not licensed or have a lot of experience in such areas. At the time of applying for a Px rat you should already have a designated vet or two that are already comfortable going to and a vet fund should be set up minimally at the time you bring your babies home so paying for vet care should not be an issue - A rat should never get denied care due to you not being able to pay.