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Help needed- very stinky rats!

Discussion in 'Rodents' started by MatildaW, Nov 17, 2018.


  1. MatildaW

    MatildaW PetForums Newbie

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    Hello I'm hoping those of you have rat companions can give me some advice.

    I was given two male rats on Friday evening. I got them from a pet homing website- free to a good home.

    Since I like rats ( my late brother kept rats) and I've had other rodent companions in the past ( gerbils, hamsters and mice) I decided to give these two young rats a loving home. They came with a big cage and 2 rat balls that they can go in for a run round and to be put in when cleaning the cage.

    The man brought them over and said he had been unable to clean the cage for a few days as he has a bad back and needs an op. He had taken them off a friend who could not keep them as he had a lot of animals already.

    They are a few months old and very healthy and active. They are friendly too and interested in everything and one of them especially comes to the bars for attention and likes being given paper to put in the ball suspended at the top of the cage where they sleep.

    I've called that one Roland as he is very amusing and fun. He is the dominant one.

    The other one is quieter and I have called him Walter.

    I noticed the cage was whiffy so I gave them Friday evening to settle in and get to know me a bit. I did open their door and gave them some food and they did not seem scared of me.

    I have read that commercial rodent food is not that good for them ( seems to cause tumours) and read many rat advice sites on what to give them to eat. So they have had the following to eat:

    organic tomatoes
    dried mealworms
    cranberries
    sultanas
    rolled oats
    wholewheat crackers
    dried tomato pasta twists
    dried egg noodles
    tiny bit of feta cheese
    organic pumpkin seeds
    organic sunflower seeds
    steamed petit pois peas
    streamed broad beans

    ( all small amounts I've not over fed them and they like all these foods).

    They have a good appetite.

    Yesterday afternoon I decided to clean the cage. They were sleeping but when I opened the door Roland heard me and came out of the bed so I had the ball ready ( as the man told me this rat would always want to come out if you opened the door) so I held the ball by the door and he walked onto the cage door and I gently lifted him into the ball ( that had what seems his fave food 3 of the tomato pasta twists in there). He was happy to be in the ball and ran round the room in it and also ate the pasta. He didn't even go to the toilet in there so he seemed to me to be unafraid.

    Walter was asleep the whole time I cleaned the cage out.

    I spent about an hour cleaning that cage. I swept out all the sawdust that was in there and wiped the platform and the ladder ( where their food bowls are) and also the bottom of the cage with diluted aloe vera hand soap as I had no pet disinfectant and couldn't find any in the pet section of the local discount store.

    I dried it all with a towel and put a big piece of cardboard on the floor of the cage and pieces in their toilet area. They always go there to do their business. I read that sawdust and wood shavings can cause respiratory problems in rats so did not go and buy any. I had planned to use shredded paper for their toilet area in the future.

    The cage still had a smell to it when you stood next to it, you know a wee smell, but I thought that would go away after awhile.

    But no the the smell got worse by the hour to the point it stunk up my whole sitting room and it is making me feel sick it is that bad. The gerbils, hamsters and mice never smelled this bad!

    The female hamster I had once would smell now and again ( estrus) and the mice and gerbils after a week ( when they needed cleaning out). The mice and gerbils smelt the least to be honest ( male and a female ). I looked after my friend's male house rabbit for 4 days a few months ago whilst he went to visit his sister and he smelt sometimes ( his pee) but all I had to do was remove the hay in the corner he had weed on and he would be fine.

    Another friend has a big furry dog called Milo who I have taken for walks and he has dropped Milo off to me ( when he had a long shift) so Milo would be in a tiny 4 roomed house I used to live in and Milo did not stink up my house either.

    I am amazed such small rodents can stink that much- they are as bad as ferrets! It is a very pungent wee smell.

    And tonight Walter was trying chasing "Roland" crazy fast around the cage and sniffing his bottom and trying to hump him. So I'm wondering if Roland is actually Rolanda! Maybe that is the problem? Rolanda is female and in estrus? Could that be the smell problem? Roland/a has been stuffing their bed like mad with paper last night as I told you- I am thinking he must be a she ( nesting behaviour? but Roland/a did not want to be humped and kept shaking Walter off and running away. They didn't squeak or bite each other though).

    My late brother kept rats as I mentioned, and at times the female ones used to get whiffy. His male ones never smelled bad. I used to go to his house and see his rats. I've also been to other people's houses who had rats and never noticed such a stink as what Roland/a and Walter are giving off.

    My mice were a male and a female and never smelled except after a few days in the corner where they weed when it was time to clean their home. (The female never had any babies).

    Same with the gerbils, who were a male and female and had 3 litters of babies! My gerbils lived in a glass tank with chicken wire on top and one time there were the parents ( Basil and Sybil) and 6 babies and no bad smells. I let Basil and Sybil come out to play every day. They were so tame.

    I am so sad about Walter and Roland/a as I cannot tolerate their smell and will have to contact an animal rehoming sanctuary to take them if I cannot get rid of this stink as it is making my sitting room reek.

    I want them to be cared for as they are sweet rats and I love animals and hate animal cruelty. I really do not know what to do.

    The photo shows Roland/a!
     
    #1 MatildaW, Nov 17, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2018
  2. Lurcherlad

    Lurcherlad PetForums VIP

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    I’d be inclined to put the rats somewhere secure and give the cage a thorough scrub and wash in a hot solution of petsafe disinfectant/cleaner outside. Then hose it over to remove all residues.

    Allow it to dry thoroughly.

    At the same time wash anything that goes in the cage. Fabric hammocks, etc. I’d probably replace with new.

    The rats themselves are probably pretty smelly (especially if they’ve not had the best care) so they could have a bath too.

    If you start from “clean” and exercise good husbandry smell shouldn’t be a problem but I never found them 100% “odourless” when we had a couple ;)
     
    Tiggers likes this.
  3. MatildaW

    MatildaW PetForums Newbie

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    Well I'd thought of trying with the pet disinfectant, but I can't hose it down as I have no hose. Prob would have to ask my guy mate to help me lift it into my shower and do it there. I'd need another person anyway to make sure both rats are put into their run balls ( and don't jump loose round the room). I wouldn't bath the rats themselves as it is chilly here as I don't have heating on ( waiting to switch suppliers as they keep over estimating my gas bill) and they would prob bite me if I tried to bath them! They look very clean and have nothing stuck to their fur.
     
  4. MatildaW

    MatildaW PetForums Newbie

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    Oh and I got up this morning to see that they have thrown food around the cage!
     
  5. mrs phas

    mrs phas karma is a funny old thing

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    Its pretty easy to sex rats. Boys have the most enormous pair of "torpedoes" that you'll ever see, you really cannot miss them
    Also
    Boys don't have nipples

    Boy rats do have a most distinct musky odour about them, and, they love to marinate in their own wee, most don't mind having a bath as it happens, well none of mine did and I've kept a lot, I had 15 boys in a super sized tiers cage at one time
    I'm very surprised that you say they smell more than your male mouse, now they are super stinky! My son, just had one and it stank my whole house out
    I hope if you have a boy/ girl you've already separated them, rats are real baby makers and are fertile from 4-6weeks of age, have large litters ( one of my rescues had 11) and can mate again straight after birth, if you don't separate you will be overrun, with the cutest babies ever, very soon
    Girls do not smell during uterus, they don't really have a 'time of the month', unless pregnant they are always fertile and will fall pregnant at any time of day, month or year, that's why there are so many rats, wild and pet, in the world
    The food looks fine for the moment, but be aware rats are like children, they will eat their favourite and refuse the rest. I suggest you look up the shumanite diet, its what I used to feed. As I raw feed my dogs, I used to give them a little meat once or twice a week, the pointy end of a chicken wing used to be perfect for them

    If there is any wood in the cage, fabric hammocks, terracotta pots etc, anything that can soak up wee, remove and replace with washable substitutes

    BTW, rats really don't like rat balls, they are badly ventilated and, especially for boys, mostly too small when full grown

    The advice re cleaning the cage is excellent, start with biological washing powder and a scrubbing brush at first, finishing with clean water, do be aware though, the rats do like to quickly make it smell like their own again, but it shouldn't be anything like what you're describing now. Rats are the cleanest of the pet rodents and don't enjoy dirty living space
     
    #5 mrs phas, Nov 17, 2018
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2018
    Lurcherlad likes this.
  6. MatildaW

    MatildaW PetForums Newbie

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    "Its pretty easy to sex rats. Boys have the most enormous pair of "torpedoes" that you'll ever see, you really cannot miss them
    Also Boys don't have nipples."

    I had a look at photos online and "Roland" looks more likely to be a female to me. I hope that "Walter" is also a female and gay rather than a male lol.

    "Boy rats do have a most distinct musky odour about them, and, they love to marinate in their own wee, most don't mind having a bath as it happens, well none of mine did and I've kept a lot, I had 15 boys in a super sized tiers cage at one time
    I'm very surprised that you say they smell more than your male mouse, now they are super stinky! My son, just had one and it stank my whole house out."

    Well my late brother's female rats smelled far more than his males. I am surprised one tiny male mouse could stink out a house!

    "I hope if you have a boy/ girl you've already separated them, rats are real baby makers and are fertile from 4-6weeks of age, have large litters ( one of my rescues had 11) and can mate again straight after birth, if you don't separate you will be overrun, with the cutest babies ever, very soon
    Girls do not smell during uterus, they don't really have a 'time of the month', unless pregnant they are always fertile and will fall pregnant at any time of day, month or year, that's why there are so many rats, wild and pet, in the world."

    Yeahhhh I know they breed like mad, but I only got given them in one cage, so if they are a male and female I will have to give them to an animal sanctuary as I'm unable to care for tons of rats. I haven't the space or budget.


    "The food looks fine for the moment, but be aware rats are like children, they will eat their favourite and refuse the rest. I suggest you look up the shumanite diet, its what I used to feed. As I raw feed my dogs, I used to give them a little meat once or twice a week, the pointy end of a chicken wing used to be perfect for them."

    They like everything I've given them except carrots and green beans!

    "If there is any wood in the cage, fabric hammocks, terracotta pots etc, anything that can soak up wee, remove and replace with washable substitutes,"

    There are no fabrics in there.

    "BTW, rats really don't like rat balls, they are badly ventilated and, especially for boys, mostly too small when full grown."

    They are only there for them to go in to be safe when I'm cleaning the cage.

    "The advice re cleaning the cage is excellent, start with biological washing powder and a scrubbing brush at first, finishing with clean water, do be aware though, the rats do like to quickly make it smell like their own again, but it shouldn't be anything like what you're describing now. Rats are the cleanest of the pet rodents and don't enjoy dirty living space."

    I never use biological washing powder, only low chemical laundry liquid as I get eczema. I will have to ask my male neighbour to help me lift their cage into the kitchen so at least I can sit in my lounge without feeling nauseated by their stink until I get the pet disinfectant.
     
  7. MatildaW

    MatildaW PetForums Newbie

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    I've not long completed cleaning out the cage in full again. Been out all day. Came back to find there was a smell but not as bad as I had been expecting from being out all day with the window shut. "Roland" happily went into the ball again whilst "Walter" snoozed in the bed nest ball. I used diluted white vinegar to wipe out the cage, and replaced the cardboard on the floor of the cage.

    I have relocated them to my kitchen which is better for them ( cool for them in the summer) and better for me ( as long as they don't get scared by the washing machine on spin cycle---we shall see as I have a wash on right now---).

    I have given them some more paper for their nesting activities ( which "Roland" likes better than "Walter"). I managed to finally observe their privates and I am 99% certain that they are both FEMALES! I can see that nipple and no scrotums.

    So why "Walter" was sniffing "Roland's" privates and trying to mount her I dunno lol.

    Roland will have to become Rolanda.

    Walter will become Winifred!
     
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  8. mrs phas

    mrs phas karma is a funny old thing

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    Dominance mounting, plus rats use humping as a way to reinforce group bonds and friendships
     
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  9. MatildaW

    MatildaW PetForums Newbie

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    Makes sense from a rat's world lol. They take it in turns to tussle and sit on each other sometimes ( they don't do it all the time).
     
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