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Pet Rats/My rats destroy their house

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Question
Good Afternoon

I am a first time rat owner (3 girls) and I am looking for some advice.  I purchased a "Little Friends" Snuggle up rat slipper (house) for them but overnight they have ripped the inside of the closed end to pieces - Is this normal? I don't know whether to leave the slipper in there with them to see if the settle with it, replace it with a new one or try a different type of house altogether and any advice would be greatly appreciated.

Many Thanks

Abbie

Answer
Welcome to the wonderful world of rats!  It is perfectly normal that your girls chewed up their house!  Rats are chewers by nature, some more than others.  They will chew anything they can get their teeth on, which is why it's important to make sure they are not given anything that may be unsafe in their cage (for example, duct tape can be toxic if ingested).

I would leave their slipper in the cage until and let them have their fun with it until it's beyond recognition, or until it smells of urine and then you should trash it (you can try washing it but it may just fall apart in the wash).

I suggest getting them houses that are less likely to be destroyed.  Stay away from houses made of wood as they can't be cleaned and will smell of urine in no time.  

Rats like to sleep in hammocks.  You can buy (or make...if you sew) "tough" hammocks that have a layer made from upholstery fabric.  I have had more luck with those as they don't make holes in the upholstery but will still chew the fleece or cotton upper parts.  They should last longer for the most part.  Here's a tough hammock that I've bought many times from ebay:  
(read the description about what it's made of)  http://www.ebay.com/itm/Double-Layered-Pet-Rat-Hammock-Bedding-Ferret-Chinchilla

You can also use old tee shorts or other clothes (bandanas work well) to make your own hammocks...no sewing necessary.  Just cut out pieces of clothes that are a good size and hang them in the cage securing with mini clamps, safety pins, hair clips, etc.  You can also cut the toe end off of old socks and hang them for "tunnels".  But be warned: these will be chewed!

As far as houses, you can buy igloo type house made of plastic, like this one:  http://www.amazon.com/Super-Pet-Guinea-Hide-Out-Colors/dp/B00068K132/ref=sr_1_1?

or this one:  http://www.amazon.com/Super-Pet-Natural-Hideout-colors/dp/B005FU4Z7O/ref=sr_1_1?

OR...you can buy a cheap plastic storage box (shoe-box sized), and cut several openings for ventilation.  You can also do the same thing with a shoe box, but be warned the box will be chewed up soon...no matter, let them have their fun, then replace the box.  Inside the storage box or shoe box, throw in a bunch of fabric pieces, white paper towels, and/or pieces of old clothes or socks for them to have something cozy to sleep in...and chew :)  Make sure you smell the inside of the box daily and replace the paper/fabric as soon as it begins to smell badly of urine, as this can cause respiratory infections which rats are prone to.

Have fun with your new rats and to them I say happy chewing!

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Irene Murphy

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I can answer a variety of questions regarding adoption and care of pet rats throughout their lifetimes, including questions about their health and well being, temperment, diet, bedding, cages, toys, etc. I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability in a timely manner and I have an abundant amount of resources to help me to help you with your pet rats. I love rattie pictures, so include pics with your question if you can. You may ask me medical questions, but please be advised that I am not a vet. I may use my resources to answer some medical questions, however, I will need to refer you to your local vet with medical questions that I feel I am not qualified to address.

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I have been a huge rat enthusiast for many years. Since becoming a rat owner, I have educated myself in all areas of pet rats from every resource I could find including the internet, books, conversations with local exotic vets, as well as several local rat breeders.

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I have a college degree but not in the area of animals. I have obtained my extensive experience and knowlege of pet rats all on my own because in my eyes, pet rats are the most interesting and fascinating creatures you can ever imagine to have as pets. I also am saddened by how mislabeled and misunderstood these amazing and extremely smart animals are by the majority, and my mission in life has become to educate and change as many people's perceptions of rats as I possibly can.

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