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Pet Rats/New Rat Owner

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Question
Hi, so I got my first two Rats through a school event. Both are female.  I trained one for a race that was on April 4th 2013 (World Rat Day!).  Originally I was only going to keep one of them, but my training Rat (Guinevere) seemed attached to the other (Alice).  Gwen is albino so I thought with her impairment she would need companionship too, in order to feel safe as well as happy.  I also took into consideration how Rats are very social, like people.  They live in a standard all blue starter-cage that has a white pull-out litter tray, an adjustable platform where a small house sits, a water bottle is off to the side on the lower level, and a glass food dish is also down there.  They love to snuggle in their house/bed and groom each other, but in the past few days they have been randomly fighting.  Gwen always starts it by pinning Alice and proceeding to bite her, Alice squeaks out when this happens.  I'm worried about aggression, and Gwen is so much bigger than her cage-mate, I worry for Alice's safety! I'm thinking about separating them.  If it helps to note, I've moved them from a more quiet room (where all rats were kept for the race), to my art studio where there is a lot more going on (door sounds, people talking, my radio on low for them, sunlight through the window).  Also, what is the best food?  I feed them from a big bag of assorted food from a pet store (it has seeds, and green and oranges rings(veggie?)).

Thank you!

Answer
Dear Melissa:

Thank you for your question.

While I work on answer this, could you please provide me the name of the food you are feeding? I would like to analyze the ingredients and give you a better idea of the quality of the food. Thanks in advanced, I will have an answer for you momentarily.  

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Shawna Laufer

Expertise

Nutrition has always been an interest of mine as well as creating stimulating environments for rats. I conduct product reviews on my blog so I can take questions regarding products marketed or intended for rats. Other questions regarding basic husbandry, feeding, grooming, and other pet rat care will be accepted. I have very little breeding experience so I would not be able to answer much in the ways of breeding or genetics questions. I can help with some basic health care questions but am not a vet and always suggest contacting your vet for serious inquires.

Experience

I have over 13 years of experience with pet rats, having worked in several pet stores, as a veterinary tech assistant, and with my own pet rats. I run a highly regarded blog on the subject of pet rat ownership (www.ratwhisperer.net) with a corresponding YouTube channel and Facebook page. I have been and always will be open to questions and comments.

Publications
A photograph of my lady rat's cage is being published in Worth Publishers' college textbook "How Children Develop, 4e" by Robert Siegler, Judy DeLoache and Nancy Eisenberg on the subject of how complex, stimulating environments and how they relate to the brains of rats.

Education/Credentials
I have some college experience, but not in the field of animals. I completed the majority of an at-home Veterinary Technician course which I was unable to complete due to financial reason. The majority of my knowledge on rats have come from personal experience, conducting my own research with the help of published medical studies and journal, the internet and through other knowledgeable 'rat people'.

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