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Pet Rats/Best companion for a lab rat?

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Hello. So long story short. I had two wonderful pet rats Aida and Blaze, both were rescues from the SPCA. Aida being a bit older when I got her and Blaze a lil 7 week old baby. I'm in my last year of animal health technology where we do have some lab animals. I decided to bring home a retired lab rat (only 4 months old at the time) Sadly Aida passed away during recovery of a tumor removal just before christmas. Then Blaze was diagnosed with a fibrosarcoma of her jaw 3 weeks ago. I did palliative care and she did well for a while, but sadly I had to euthanize her two nights ago.

Now I am left with this 6 month old Albino lab rat. She is very insecure, still not social (but in no way mean, would never bite me) and has LOTS of energy. She absolutely needs the company of other rats to feel safe. Now I'm not a fan of pet stores, mainly cause they typically all sell dogs and cats as well and I have no interest in supporting such businesses. I prefer rescues to breeders who list in the classifieds because I'm not sure what to look for in a rat breeder. Especially as I know there are always many rats in rescues that need to be rehomed. So I'm really leaning towards a rescue rat. All that being said. Here are my options currently.

Local SPCA had a 6month, human social albino. However I'm reluctant to have two rats that look identical.

Another rescue has a female of unknown age.

Finally there's a rescue that has a litter of 7 week olds that were apparently rescued as their mom was being sold as a feeder rat.

All this to say. What should I look for in a companion for my lab rat. Do they introduce better with rats of the same age? Should I be worried she will be too big and rough with a baby?

Answer
Hi Gabrielle,
Because the lab rat is shy, and a bit unsocialized, it would be best to get a very socialized companion who would be a good example for her. I understand not wanting to have 2 albinos, but one way to tell them apart is to mark one or both on the base of the tail with a colored Sharpie pen. Because she has a lot of energy, she would probably do well with a baby (high energy babies can drive an older more sedentary rat crazy!), or you might consider getting 2 babies, if you have the space. Certainly you want to go slow and careful with any introduction, with a baby or a bigger rat. I have introduction instructions on my website at www.ratfanclub.org on the Rat Info page.

I hope I have answered your question! I think basically the choice is yours.
Deb

Pet Rats

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Debbie Ducommun

Expertise

I can answer any questions about pet rats, but you will probably be able find answers to simple questions more quickly on my website at www.ratfanclub.org/helpfinfo.html. If you have a life-threatening emergency you can try calling me at 530-899-0605. I am not usually on the computer on the weekend.

Experience

I have been "The Rat Lady" since 1985 and am recognized as one of the world's experts on pet rats. I have 3 published books and already answer lots of questions about rats daily.

Organizations
President of Rat Assistance & Teaching Society

Publications
I am a monthly columnist for Pet Business magazine, and my writing has appeared in other magazines. I have 3 published books.

Education/Credentials
BA in Animal Behavior

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