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Pet Rats/Early signs of labor?

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QUESTION: Hi! I have a young girl, Turbo that I placed with my male about four weeks ago, however, she was with him for two weeks. That being said, I am not sure when her exact due is. But, over the past day or two, her stomach has doubled in size, and I can feel at least four or five babies.  This is her first litter, and she is 5-6 months old. How long to you think there might be? The fur is gone around most of the nipples, and the are getting much larger than they were. I have her in a large homemade cage, which is a plastic bin that I cut the top off of, and replaced it with very small mesh wire. I have a cardboard box in there, with a hole cut out for her, and I gave her some paper towels, which she took into the box and made a nest with.She also took all of her rodent blocks, and stashed them in the corner. I have also been giving her some scrambled eggs. How much should she have of those? Should I just give her as much as she'll eat? She has been staying in her box/nest all the time the past day or so, only coming out to get water. Once or twice she has been on top of the box. What are the early signs of labor? This is my first litter as well, the only previous experience being with cats. I also have a container of kitten and puppy formula that I keep in the freezer. Would this be good for her? Sorry for so many questions, I just want her to have a healthy litter =)

Thanks so much in advance for any help or advice you can give me!

ANSWER: Hi Jalyn,
You'll find some info in the article about Reproduction on my website at www.ratfanclub.org. A normal diet of rat blocks with a variety of fruits and veggies is all she needs. You don't need to give the eggs and formula, although some eggs isn't going to hurt. Just give her all she wants to eat of the blocks.

Their belly generally gets big the last week of the pregnancy, so she will probably deliver in the next 5 days. The first sign of labor is usually some blood spotting.  Be sure the handle the babies a lot from birth so they will be really cuddly!
Deb

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thanks so much!  We were gone most of the day today(03/24) And when we came back, she had already had her babies! I took her out, and checked them, and there were ten, healthy and all had been fed. Problem is, when I picked them up, they were all kinda cold, and I tried putting warm fleece and stuff, but she just keeps taking them off, and refuses to use it. How can I keep them warm? And, I've held them a couple times (Couldn't stop me, lol.) And I checked a couple, and they were two girls and two boys.

Answer
She should be spending most of her time on the nest, crouched over them, keeping them warm. If she isn't, you might need to put her in a small carrier so she can't really get away from them. Could be her hormones haven't kicked in yet.

You could also try putting a heating pad on low under the cage where the nest is.
Deb

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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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