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PostSubject: Rabbits   Sat Mar 08, 2008 1:08 am



Rabbits are intelligent, social animals and make affectionate and rewarding family pets when they receive plenty of attention. They can be trained to use a litter box and are more enjoyable, responsive pets when they live indoors as house rabbits. Given appropriate care a rabbit can live up to 10 years.

Rabbits can be taught to share your home, though hazards such as electrical cords and toxic plants should be removed or made inaccessible to prevent accidents. Rabbits will chew and dig, so provide acceptable items such as wood toys and a safe digging box, filled with straw, to avoid damage to your furnishings. Kind training using plenty of praise and treats will teach your rabbit to live as one of the family.

Housing

Rabbits should live indoors, safe from predators and extreme climates. It is important to choose as large a cage as possible, at least four times the size of your rabbit. Avoid wire floors, which can injure rabbits feet. Give your rabbit a litter box filled with safe litter such as Carefresh, never pine or cedar shavings, which contain harmful oils. A hiding box will also be appreciated. Chew toys such as untreated wicker baskets, untreated wood blocks, cardboard boxes and dried out pine cones will keep your rabbit busy.

Diet

A healthy diet is based on good quality rabbit pellets and ample fresh alfalfa, timothy or oat hay. Add at least two cups of fresh vegetables per 6 lbs of body weight each day. Good choices are dark green leafy vegetables and root vegetables. Small amounts of fresh fruit may be given as a treat. Fresh water in a sipper bottle should be available at all times.

Cleaning

Remove soiled litter daily and wash food dishes, water bottles and the cage bottom weekly. Always rinse and dry the cage well before returning your pet.
Fertility All pet rabbits should be spayed or neutered by an experienced rabbit veterinarian to avoid unwanted babies. Spayed or neutered rabbits also live longer, healthier lives and make better companions.

Health

Rabbits are prone to intestinal blockages, due to swallowing hair while grooming. Regular grooming can help minimize this problem. Be alert and consult an exotic animal veterinarian if you notice signs of illness or injury such as: lack of appetite; change in droppings; bloated abdomen; runny nose; labored breathing; head tilt; urinary problems; lumps or bumps.

Warnings

Antibiotics of the Penicillin family, such as Amoxicillin, are toxic to rabbits and should NEVER be used.

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PostSubject: Hamster   Sun Apr 27, 2008 12:35 am

Hamster care:



Picking a Healthy Hamster
When choosing a hamster, pay attention to its demeanor and condition. Avoid hamsters that are quiet or lethargic; hamsters should should be alert, curious, and active. Being nocturnal, this can be a bit hard to test during the day, but even during the day a hamster should respond (be careful, the first instinct of a hamster might be to nip if woken from a deep sleep). Picking your hamster out in the evening might be a good idea. The coat should be smooth and the eyes and nose free of discharge (wet or crusty). The hamster's breathing should not be labored or noisy, and the coat should be clean, dry, and free of droppings. If you observe a hamster in the cage with diarrhea or respiratory problems, be very cautious since all the hamsters in that cage may have been exposed to an infectious disease.

Housing
There are three main types of commercial hamster housing available: wire cages, plastic cages, and aquariums. A wire cage with horizontal bars 1/2 to 3/4 inches apart works well for Syrian hamsters, as hamsters like to climb and will use the walls for climbing. Avoid the kind with a grate in the bottom as these are just more difficult to clean and uncomfortable for the hamsters.

Aquariums are also acceptable, especially for dwarf and Chinese hamsters. They are fairy easy to clean, but have less air circulation and ventilation, and do not offer the opportunity to climb on the walls. A secure cover must be used to prevent hamster escapes and other pets from accessing the hamsters.

Modular plastic hamster habitats (the type with multiple tunnels and chambers) are nice for providing exercise and entertainment, but can be challenge to ventilate adequately and clean well. In addition, many golden hamsters get too large for the tunnels, although dwarf hamsters have no difficulties. Also keep in mind that hamsters can chew through plastic so if there are any edges or ridges they can start chewing, they could easily escape.

Bedding
Most owners use wood shavings to line the cage, but avoid cedar shavings - aspen or other hardwood shaving are the preferred choice as even pine shavings may emit irritating aromatic oils. Other bedding options are available (see "Top Ten Alternatives to Cedar and Pine." The bedding should be changed weekly, but most hamsters use an area of the cage for a toilet and this area can be cleaned more frequently to help keep the cage clean. Hamsters like to burrow, so provide a good depth of shavings for them to dig in.

The placement of the cage in the home should also be carefully considered. Since hamsters are nocturnal, their setting should be fairly quiet during the day. However, they shouldn't be so far out of the way that they do not have opportunities for social interaction in the evening when they are active. The cage should be away from direct sunlight or heat sources, and also free from drafts, and should be raised of the floor on a shelf or table.

Furnishings
A nesting box should be provided, which can be store bought or as simple as a cardboard box (which will have to be replaced regularly). Provide soft such as strips of facial tissue or soft paper towels The nest material should be cleaned out only every month or two as needed (more frequent changes may be too disruptive to the hamster). However, regular checks and removal of any stored food materials is recommended.

Hamsters need the opportunity to chew, burrow, and get exercise. Almost all hamsters will use a hamster wheel enthusiastically (a solid surface is easier on their feet). Also provide some tunnels or tubes (paper towel or toilet paper), fresh branches (willow, or fruit wood; pesticide free), small cardboard boxes, and blocks of wood etc. for climbing and gnawing.

For water, a water bottle with a dispenser is preferred as it can't tip and keeps the water clean. A shallow food bowl of ceramic or porcelain is the best choice as they are difficult to tip and easy to clean.

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PostSubject: chipmunk care   Tue May 13, 2008 6:12 pm

HOUSING

In my opinion, the best way to keep chipmunks is to provide them with an indoor and outdoor aviary, such as one attached to a shed. For example, my chipmunks are housed in a shed comprising of four seperate cages, each measuring around 3 x 3 x 5 feet (length x width x height). Each cage is attached to an outdoor aviary via a tunnel or tube such as the one pictured here, so that the chipmunks can move inside and outside when they please. The outdoor aviaries are much larger, some measuring 4 x 5 x 6 feet. This setup allows the chipmunks to bask in the sunshine and be in the fresh air, but also retire indoors when the weather is cold or wet. The outside cages are roofed with sheets of thick clear plastic which not only keeps the rain off but allows extra light into the cage.

Here is a picture of three of my outdoor enclosures which also continue inside the shed. They contain everything a chipmunk could need from excellent climbing branches and pipes to a bark chip or peat floor that they can use for burying food.

The building of cages is really only limited by your imagination. The more climbing branches, hidey-holes and tunnels the better! This not only provides entertainment for your chipmunks, but places to forage and bury their food and to hide from one another when company becomes too much. Also, a chipmunk is not just limited by it's cage. I regularly let mine out for a run around the shed for a change of scenery. They always go straight for the food bins and tease the rabbit, but it also gives me a chance to play with them and let them climb all over me.

The cages should be furnished with many branches, logs and other natural objects that can provide shelter, climbing frames and toys. Branches should be obtained from oak, apple or pear trees as these are the safest for chipmunks if they are chewed. Chipmunks love to climb, so the more intricate the positioning of branches the better. Hollowed out coconuts with a hole in the front make excellent toys and even nests. Flower-bed wooden or bamboo boarders also make great bridges, you can buy them at any B&Q or garden center. In my aviaries I have attached loops of think rope to the sides of the cage to provide more interest and climbing opportunities. I have found that old plastic pipes also make great tunnels for chipmunks to play in like the one in the picture. Peat or bark chips should be used for the floor of the outside aviary to allow your chipmunks to dig and bury food.



Nest boxes, such as the one pictured here with Ella inside, also need to be provided for your chipmunk to sleep in. As nest boxs specifically for chipmunks are not sold, I have found that ones made for budgerigars and even cockatiels (for the larger family) make great alternatives. Idealy one box per individual should be provided and positioned either inside or outside with easy access.

If it is not possible to build an outdoor enclosure then building a cage indoors is just as good. It should be made as large as possible and positioned away from drafts. Never house chipmunks in tanks or rabbit hutches as they are not tall enough and will not allow your chipmunk to climb and exercise properly.

Groupings
From what I have found through my own experience is that mixed sex colonies of chipmunks do not work. Aside from the fact that you will have an uncontrollable breeding problem, fights do break out and they can be very serious. The best pairings are that of a male and female; two females or two males. Try not to mix a male with two females and vice versa as you will encounter problems, especially round breeding times.

I house my chipmunks in four seperate aviaries. Two aviaries are for males and females only. Even though they both contain five individuals (they are large) I have never had a problem with fighting. There is of course the occasional scuffle and chase which is usual for establishing rank in the cage, but never anything more serious.

Another aviary houses my two first ever chipmunks who are male and female. As they have been together ever since I bought them, I cannot find it in my heart to seperate them. They occassionally breed but as they are quite old now they just enjoy each others company.

My last aviary currently houses two females, a mother and daughter, but it has been used as a breeding aviary in the past. To control breeding and to obtain certain genotypes I have selected a male and female to breed from and housed them seperately in the breeding aviary. They have both stayed together with the babies until the offspring are ready to be re-homed, then the parents are returned to their original aviaries without any problems.


CARE AND FEEDING

Most chipmunks are friendly and enjoy human company. Although most of the time they are too lively and quick to enjoy a stroke, many can be tamed to come to you when called and some will even sit on your shoulder or lap and relish an affectionate tickle. The general rule is that chipmunks hate to be grabbed or picked up, and NEVER try and pick up a chipmunk by the tail. As more are bred in captivity, you will find exceptions to this rule. The majority of the chipmunks that I have bred will allow me to pick them up gently and place them on my shoulder, as I have done so from a very early age. The best way to gain a chipmunks trust is if you present it with a peanut or sunflower seed, and make sure you do not try and speed up the process of taming by grabbing the animal. Chipmunks appear to have very good memories and if you upset one by grabbing it they will remember for a very long time! As for biting, chipmunks should never bite you without a very good reason. I have been bitten a few times in the past and it has always been down to a fault of mine. I once tried to stop a fight with bare hands and later found that this was not such a good idea. Always have a towel ready if you do need to catch an individual and seperate one from another, it will save your fingers at least. If you do get bitten, try not to shout at the chipmunk, they will not understand and will often become even more distressed.

A chipmunks diet mainly consists of seeds, fruit and nuts. The best pre-packaged food made specifically for chipmunks that I have found is Burgess Supa Chipmunk Food and a 1kg pack normally costs around £1.69. This food contains everything your chipmunk will need, but you should supplement their diet with fruit such as apples, grapes, oranges, berries of all kinds, bread and even bananas which are a favourite of my chipmunks. They are also keen on meal worms which can be obtained from most pet stores. Below I have listed a number of important foodstuffs that your chipmunk will require and relish.

Chipmunk Foods

SUNFLOWER SEEDS- A favourite amoung chipmunks. They are rich in vitamin E and are a dietry requirement, however, they are rather like sweets and will be overeaten if fed too often.

PEANUTS- Another favourite that should not be overfed but given sparingly as a tidbit.


BISCUITS- Biscuits sold for cats and dogs can be given to your chipmunk to provide their protein requirement. They form a useful part of the diet by giving the chipmunk something on which to chew that is very hard. However, I have not had much luck with my chipmunks and these types of biscuits.

NUTS- Chipmunks love nuts of all types, especially hazel and almond. You may have to crack the shells of most nuts as they are too hard for the chipmunk to chew through.

VEGETABLES- Some of my chipmunks like a bit of carrot, others prefer runnerbeans, it's just a matter of trying out different types on your chipmunk to see which it prefers. Mine have also started eating brocolli which is a great source of iron. I especially try and feed new and expectant mums with it.

LETTUCE- Lettuce is useful as it contains 95% water so it's particularly nice on a hot summers day. It should not be fed in large amounts as it can cause a dangerous liver complaint.

CABBAGE- This too should not be fed in large amounts. The outer leaves are the most beneficial, containing the majority of vitamins.

CAULIFLOWER- Perhaps the most useful of all the vegetables as it has a less drastic effect on the system of the chipmunk. The leaves and stalk are the best food value and the flowers are also loved.

CHICORY- This contains a valuable amount of vitamins.

FRUIT- Various fruits will be accepted by your chipmunk (generally) including oranges, grapes, apples, pears, blackberries, strawberries, raspberries, bananas, peaches and plums. Stones should be removed as they are thought to be toxic to chipmunks.

MEAT- This can be provided in the form of dog and cat biscuits or you can give your chipmunk a very small amount of boiled egg or tinned dog food. Chipmunks also love insects of any kind, especially crickets, meal worms and earthworms that can be bought or found in your garden. My chipmunks once ate a stag beetle so I guess that any insect is welcomed!


CHIPMUNK HEALTH

Most chipmunks are healthy thoughout their lives, never have a day's illness and die of old age. However bad management does account for a number of deaths, the majority of which are caused by bad feeding and the bad siting of cages and aviaries. I am not saying that chipmunks are never ill, so I will mention some of the most common ailments. However, if you suspect that your chipmunk is unwell, don't try and treat it yourself but take it straight to a veterinary surgery.

WOUNDS AND CUTS- As with most rodents, a chipmunk's flesh heals very quickly and slight cuts and wounds are not in themselves dangerous at all. The most common cause of these wounds are sharp edges to the chipmunk's environment and slight fights. Serious wounds do occur when strange individuals are introduced to each other. Only very deep wounds or cuts need to be dealt with by the vet. Most cuts can be bathed in a mild antiseptic solution once a day. This may require removing individual animals from an outdoor enclosure or group unless your animals are very tame and come to you. If your animal is not used to being handled, then it may well be worth not treating a very mild wound; just keep a very close eye on it for infections and allow nature to heal the wound itself.

CONSTIPATION- A blockage of the intestines causes constipation. In the majority of cases this is caused by unsuitable bedding such as cotton wool, wood wastes or newspaper. All bedding should be replaced with good soft meadow hay and fresh foods should be given in larger amounts than usual. Should the constipation persist for more than 24 hours, consult your vet.

DIARRHOEA- The opposite of constipation. The most common cause is the overfeeding of fresh vegetables or a sudden change in diet. Females that are nursing do tend to produce a little looser faeces than normal and this is nothing to worry about.

OVERGROWN TEETH- On rare occasions the teeth of chipmunks become overgrown due to the overfeeding of too much soft food. At these times the individual should be taken to your vet for the teeth to be trimmed and the animal's diet should be changed to include a much higher proportion of nuts and biscuits on which the teeth may be worn down. Even rarer is the case of misaligned teeth. This often occurs in both adults and young when the teeth or jaws have been damaged by an accident or in a fight. In many of these cases the clipping of the teeth will have to be performed at least once a month.



HIBERNATION- This is not really an ailment but it seems appropriate to include it here. Chipmunks that are retained in outdoor enclosures all year round without access to heated accommodation often hibernate. This is usually in their nest box or if they have a peat or soil based cage they may dig burrows. Hibernation does not appear to be harmful to chipmunks; they hibernate naturally in the wild. If you are willing to let your chipmunks hibernate then you should allow them to make a nest which is in a good frost-proof position. The animal should also be given a very good diet during the previous few months so that it has a good fat supply on which to live on while in hibernation. Personally I would not allow chipmunks to hibernate. Two of mine have tried it several times and have become dangerously thin because of it even though they live in a heated shed. Luckily I have not yet lost any chipmunks through hibernation as I wake them up before it gets risky. One way I have managed to deter mine from hibernating is by postioning all the nest boxes indoors so that they have to sleep inside where it's warm. In the summer, I put half the nest boxes back outside where it's cool.

Below is a time line of how the baby chipmunks should develop:

Chipmunk development:
Stripes appear- 7 days old
Fur appears- 14 days old
Eyes and ears open- 25 days old
Emerge from the nest- 35 days old (5 weeks)
Weaned- 45 days old (7 weeks)
Fully adult- 84 days old (12 weeks)

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PostSubject: LONGEVITY AND BREEDING (CHIPMUNKS)   Tue May 13, 2008 6:13 pm

LONGEVITY AND BREEDING

Longevity
Chipmunks are relatively long lived for rodents. I have heard that females tend to live longer than males, but I haven't found this myself. Chipmunks live on average 4-5 years, although as little as 2 has been recoreded for males and up to 12 years for females. A pair of mine are still going at 7 years old although the female has recently stopped breeding. Abu, the male, is still going even at his old age! Chipmunks rarely become ill and usually die at a ripe old age.

Sexing
I have had many emails from people asking how they tell the sex of their chipmunks so I'll try and describe the difference as best I can. First, pick up your chipmunk and gently turn it onto its back with the genitals facing you. Chipmunks wriggle quite a bit so you may need to try several times. You should be able to see two distinct bumps, the anus and the genitals. In the male, these bumps are about 1cm apart, but in the female they are touching.


Introduction
As I have greatly found, not all individuals put together will breed. If you wish to breed chipmunks, try and obtain both together from the same place, hopefully non-related chipmunks. Once you have your chipmunks, introduce them to their new cage at the same time and they should get on fine due to the newness of their surroundings. Play fights may occur which are normal, but if you suspect that the fight is becoming serious then seperate them and try introducing them again. For this I would recommend a good pair of think leather gloves as a chipmunk will bite if it is already fighting with another. If fighting continues, remove the female and let the male have the run of the cage for 24 hours, then try again. I have found this process usually solves the problem as females are generally more aggressive than males, and this procedure allows the male to establish his territory first. If this doesn't work then you may have to think about either housing them seperately and allowing access to each other only during breeding seasons, or exchanging one back with the supplier.

If you are introducing a new chipmunk to an already existing pet chipmunk, I would suggest you remove your pet from the cage, clean it from top to bottom to remove any scent, then introduce them both into the cage at the same time. Generally the pet will accept the new chipmunk, but if he/she doesn't, you may need to remove the pet from the cage and let the new one have the run of the cage for 24 hours, then try introducing them again in the cage.
Breeding
Chipmunks do not generally breed in the autumn or winter, but begin in spring and/or summer when they are about a year old. The first sign that the chipmunks are coming into breeding is the descent of the testes into the scrotum of the male. Females come into heat two weeks later, around February, and some may utter frequent 'chips' to attract the male(s). Only my dilute white chipmunk and her daughters have ever 'chipped' during breeding season, so this is not a universal sign of breeding. Mine appear to 'constantly shout' rather than 'chip' and they only tend to stop for a while when they are fed, which often makes me wonder if they do it on purpose. Mating usually takes place after a brief chase, and is over quite quickly. The gestation period usually lasts from 28 to 35 days, during which the female remains totally active. I have found with my own chipmunks that the female will usually remain in the nest box for the entire day of the birth and the majority of each day for the next 7 days, appearing briefly for food and water and a little stroke. Litter size ranges from 2 to 10 individuals, with 5 being the more typical. My litter sizes are more typically numbering 6 and 7, so they very well may be increasing through breeding in captivity. Often chipmunks will again breed and produce a second litter around July/August when the first litter of the year have reached adulthood. I have also found with my chipmunks that the second litters of the year are much smaller, numbering 2 or 3 compared to the 6 or 7 earlier in the year.


Babies
The young are born naked, blind and totally helpless, and some litters tend to be very vocal. Unless your female is very used to you, I would suggest that you begin hand-taming at around 12 days of age. Any time before this the female may become nervous and either harm or neglect her young. You should gently lift each youngster out of the nest box and hold them for a while so they can become used to your scent and feel of your hands. Try and aim to do this every day and as they get older they will be climbing all over you, and perhaps even let you pick them up. At approximately 30-38 days of age the youngsters will start to emerge from the nest. At this point they look like minature versions of their parents, without the climbing experience of course! They still suckle from their mother but are usually weaned 7-10 days after emerging from the nest. During this time some mothers will let her young get on with it and others seem to try and keep them young for as long as possible, chasing after them and putting them back into the nest box, without any success. It is very funny to watch though!
New daddies!
I have found no problems at all with leaving the male in the same cage as the female and their offspring. He will not harm the babies and will probably benefit them from being around. My males have generally provided the entertainment factor for their offspring when the mums have become tired of their presence. They will tease their father and take food from him and unlike their mother, he lets them! If they try the same thing with their mother, as some have unfortunately done, they get a box round the ears. Maternal instinct doesn't seem to last for long with chipmunks. A strange behaviour that I have never seen repeated with any of my other male chipmunks was that of Abu with his first litter (and the first that I had ever bred). Chippy allowed him into the nest box to see the babies but he wasn't allowed to sleep in there with them. However, when she wasn't looking, he used to go in and pick each baby up in turn in his mouth and then run around with them. He would then sit, turn the baby round in his paws and clean it and then return it to the nest. I was a little worried when I first saw him do it, and I became concerned that they were getting cold when he ran around with them, but they all survived and turned out just fine. Plus Chippy was never distressed when he did this (although I don't think she knew half the time), so I thought they must be ok as she would be the first to complain.

I would suggest that you do not remove the male from the female and babies unless it is absolutely necessary ie in the event of the male and female fighting. Females can become distressed if their mate is taken away and I have heard this to be the cause of females killing their young.

Esme, pictured here on the right with Susan her daughter. Esme has been one of my most reliable breeders and, I think, the best mother.


My only problem
If you suspect that your chipmunk is pregnant then there is no need to worry. Chipmunks are more than capable of looking after their offspring successfully, even when it is their first litter and she is new to you. The only problem I have ever encountered was when my dilute white female gave birth to her first litter. As I have said before, I don't think dilutes are as intelligent as agouties but I wasn't initially worried until I had seen where she had given birth to her babies. She had made a poor attempt at a nest on the muddy floor of her aviary outside. It was April and still a little chilly and I was very concerned about the babies wellbeing. Even though she had been sleeping in a proper nest box every night up until the day of the birth, she insisted on keeping the babies on the floor, and she didn't seem like she knew what she was supposed to do with them. I looked into the nest and found that one of the babies had either died as a result or had died during the birth. The remaining two were extreemly cold and I took them in for a few hours and warmed them up. When they were warm, lively and squeaking again I tried putting them back into a nest box for their mother to feed. She just took them straight out again and left them unprotected on the floor while she ran around the cage. I tried several times again to put them in the box and she finally took to it and did not move them to the floor. At last she managed to feed them for the first time and managed to take care of them. After that there were no more problems, and when one of her babies, Amba, gave birth to her own litter the following year, she managed to take care of her babies without any problems. She obviously didn't inherit her mothers bad parenting skills.
A caution about pregnant chipmunks
I have very recently discovered how out of character aggressive chipmunks can be when they are pregnant. Kess, her mum Amba, and aunt Jade have lived together happily ever since Kess was born. During autumn I had to house Gizmo a male in with them as he was no longer getting on with his brothers (after living perfectly with them for 4 years!) Kess has now become pregnant and I was shocked to find that she has also become incredibly aggressive to her family. Both Amba and Gizmo were beaten around the head, and although it was nasty it wasn't life threatening. Jade however was not expected to live through the night, but after lots of love and care she has bounced back. I have had to remove Kess (who didn't have a single scratch on her), and I do not know if she can ever go back. She is still my tamest and most affectionate chipmunk to me, but she obviously wanted to keep the others away from her babies. The ironic thing is when Kess and her siblings were born, her aunt Jade tried to steal them away from their mother Amba. I had to remove the young family to avoid anything bad happening to the babies.

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PostSubject: Rats   Thu May 15, 2008 6:09 pm

Housing

Unlike rabbits and guinea pigs, domesticated rats are not hardy in cold weather. They must live indoors, preferably in your home, although an enclosed outbuilding could also suffice. For this reason they need a cage rather than just a hutch. Rats kept in an outdoor hutch are at risk of coming into contact with wild rats, and would be lucky to survive a British winter without illness or death from cold. The temperature should not fall below around 45 Degrees F/7Degrees C, and ideally should not rise beyond around 75 Degrees F/ 24 Degrees C. If the cage is sited in a busy part of the home, the rats will enjoy watching their humans passing by, and if part of the cage is at eye-level, you will find that you interact with them more.

Your rats will spend most of their lives in their cage, and because they are such intelligent, active animals, it is a shame to keep them in a small space. There is no such thing as a cage that is 'too big' for pet rats -- giving your animals more space is an easy way to make their lives more interesting. As a bare minimum, the floor-space should be at least 24" long and 12" wide, but we would stress that this is the minimum acceptable cage size and most pet owners want to give their pets more than the minimum. It is really important to check the dimensions of any cage before you buy; it can be hard to guess accurately, and a few inches of space can make a lot of difference to animals as small as rats.

Toys

Baby rats enjoy playing with toys and each other, whilst adult rats tend to use toys for sleeping in or on and reserve their play for humans or other rats. All sorts of objects can be useful for both purposes - some ideas are lengths of plastic drainpipe, large drainpipe connectors, lengths of wide drainage pipe, large glass jars, cardboard boxes, and old clothes. Small toys intended for hamsters or gerbils are good for baby rats. Some rats will run on wheels, but usually they are not interested in them -- probably because they are too intelligent. Wheels with spokes are dangerous -- legs, tails, or even heads can be damaged in them as one tries to jump on while another is running. Toys intended for ferrets and parrots are generally safe and suitable for rats.

Litter is placed in the cage to absorb moisture from urine and droppings. By drying out droppings, it stops them decomposing and hence smelling. Bedding is used in the nestbox to make a comfortable bed, and also to absorb urine.

Litter and Bedding

Litter is placed in the cage to absorb moisture from urine and droppings. By drying out droppings, it stops them decomposing and hence smelling. Bedding is used in the nestbox to make a comfortable bed, and also to absorb urine.

Wood shavings are the most commonly available litter sold to line the bottom of small animal cages. Many people feel that wood shavings are not an ideal litter for rats, because they give off essential oils and can be very dusty. However good quality wood shavings (as opposed to sawdust) can provide an excellent bedding for rats. Despite common misconceptions, there is no evidence that the most common forms of wood shavings (usually pine or spruce in the UK -- a white or pale yellow wood) cause any damage to rat health: studies have failed to find any connection between respiratory ailments and use of ordinary shavings. In fact, the rats kept on shavings in one study actually lived longer than those not exposed to moderate amounts of aromatic oils!

However, red cedar shavings, shavings or paper bedding treated with extra aromatic oils or other chemicals (often sold as deodorising beddings), shavings or paper bedding that is especially dusty, as well as sawdust (which is dusty by its nature) should all be avoided: large amounts of aromatic oils and dust can irritate rats' respiratory tracts.


For those who would rather not use wood shavings, there are now many alternatives to wood shavings available in the UK. It is advisable to make sure that any alternative litter is not toxic if ingested: recycled paper beddings are probably the safest, although these may be as dusty as wood products, and it is important to ensure that they have not been treated with aromatic oils (even "natural" ones) or chemicals to improve their deodorising properties. The authors have used Bio-Catolet - a cat litter made from pellets of recycled paper. Sterile and dust-free, this litter is many times more absorbent than wood-shavings, and is much better at controlling odour. Although on a weight-for-weight basis it is more expensive than wood shavings, Bio-Catolet is far more efficient: you use much less and change it less often than wood (for example, once rather than twice weekly for an average-sized cage containing two females). Because of its efficiency Bio-Catolet is good value for money. It can be found in large branches of ASDA, Sainsburys, and Tescos nationwide, or ask your local pet shop to order it for you.

In a pinch, shredded paper-towels can be a safe stop-gap until you buy more litter. Normal cat litter -- even the dust-free kind --is not appropriate for rats: the dust and clay can harm their health.

Bedding - shredded paper bedding from a pet shop is fine, although your rats will enjoy ripping up paper towels even more. Newspaper can be used as bedding, provided that it is printed with non-toxic ink. You can find out by telephoning the printer; if the ink is safe, the main disadvantage is that it may stain the rats' coats. Straw or hay does little to absorb liquid or eliminate odour, although some rats and humans like it. One of the authors had a rat who blinded herself in one eye on a sharp hay stalk, but such accidents are probably rare.

Food

Like people, rats are omnivores. They fare best on fresh wholesome foods: wholegrain (brown) rice, vegetables, grains (wheat, barley, oats, millet), wholemeal bread, etc. and some animal protein. High protein puppy food is useful as a supplement to help build up young rats (up to 10-12 weeks), and normal to low protein dry dog food is a good component of a healthy diet. Ideally, an adult rat should be fed some whole-grains, some vegetables, and some protein (lean meat scraps, dog food or mealworms) every day. This can be supplemented with a bowl of 'rodent mix' as a snack food.

Debbie Ducommun of the Rat Fan Club has devised an excellent recipe for rat health food that appears to boost immune reaction and general health, see the Rat Fan Club (below) for details. Debbie is a vegetarian herself, but she found it impossible to formulate a vegetarian diet for rats which would fulfil all of their nutritional requirements. If you want your rats to thrive, they should have small amounts of animal protein. The simplest way of providing this is via a few dog biscuits.

While such home-made nutritionally complete diets are ideal and are strongly recommended, it is also possible to give your rat a well-balanced diet using pet-shop mixes as a base. There are several specialty rat foods on the market, but the only one that the authors know has been fully researched from a nutritional point of view is Burgess Supa-Rat. Most rats will eat all of this food, which makes it nutritionally complete for the average rat. However nursing mothers and kittens will still need supplements to add protein and extra calories to their diet. Reggie Rat made by Supreme Pet Foods also claims to be specially formulated with the nutritional needs of rats in mind. In theory it is a complete food, but a) we have yet to meet the rat which will eat all of the mix, particularly the pellets, and the diet cannot be 'complete' if rats only eat part of it, and b)your rats will always appreciate healthy fresh snacks as treats. As it is quite high in fat and protein, restrict amounts of Reggie Rat for rats which put on weight easily. A less rich option is a good quality rabbit food like Burgess Supa Rabbit or Burgess Supa Natural (no pellets), supplemented with fresh vegetables, some animal protein (mealworms, lean meat or dog biscuit), and the odd cooked meat bone (chicken bones are fine -- the rats just crunch them up) or natural yoghurt to provide extra calcium. This is what the authors' use. A "complete rat food" in the form of extruded pellets is has been released by Burgess but the authors have not reviewed this product. See below for more on "all-in-one" foods.



If you feed a grain mix, like Reggie Rat or rabbit mix, give just a small amount at a time. Most rats will pick out their favourite pieces first, but they will not get a balanced diet if they only eat their favourite part of the mix. Do not give any more food until all of the first lot has been eaten, except for the empty grain husks, and the pellets. These pellets are made of alfalfa, and they mainly add bulk to the diet. Most rats would rather starve than eat them; don't worry, as they are not essential. It is better for rats to get their fibre from fresh fruit or veg anyway. We would not feed 'mono-diets' such as complete blocks of rodent food as a sole food. Such diets are boring, depriving rats of the fun of rummaging through their food and eating the tastiest bits first. However "complete foods" in the form of extruded pellets guarantee that rats are getting all of their vital nutrients, and as such can be an important part of a healthy mixed diet - e.g. mix a quality grain mixture and extruded pellets in a 50/50 ratio for the dry element of your rats' diet.

The following foods can be used as treats/supplements to the regular diet: fruit (apples, cherries, grapes, banana etc.), vegetables (broccoli, potatoes, peas, carrot etc.), cooked liver, kidney, or other low-fat meat, cooked bones, cooked pulses (cooked Soya protein may reduce the risk of cancer), live yoghurt, sunflower seeds (an exceptional source of B vitamins), wholemeal pasta and bread, brown rice, unsweetened breakfast cereals, and the occasional capsule of cod-liver or garlic oil. Table scraps will be eaten with relish, but try to avoid feeding fatty or sugary scraps. Carbonated drinks should never be given to rats as they cannot burp, and the build-up of gasses in the stomach from fizzy drinks could be fatal. Bear in mind that dietary fat has been linked to tumours in rats, and keep fatty foods like peanuts and sunflower seeds as treats. Moderation is advised in all things - the diet should not be made up of just one main ingredient. For example, some people worry that too much maize (sweetcorn, or just 'corn' in the USA) could be harmful, although small amounts are enjoyed.

Fresh water should be available at all times, preferably in a gravity (ball-valve) bottle which will keep the water clean. Water should be changed daily, and the bottle should be scrubbed out once a week. If using a plastic bottle, it is a good idea to thoroughly clean or replace it every few months, to prevent excessive bacteria and algae building up. The problem with giving water in bowls rather than bottles is that rats tend to dump litter in the bowls, or knock them over. However, most rats prefer drinking from a bowl, and like to wash themselves with the water - so they do appreciate being given a bowl from time to time. Sick or elderly rats may find it hard to drink from a bottle, so a low bowl should be provided to encourage them to drink. You will have to clean the cage more often, but it will help to prevent the rat suffering from dehydration. Vitamin supplements should be added to food rather than to drinking water -most make the water taste horrible, and may discourage your rats from drinking. In any case, healthy rats fed a healthy, well-balanced diet should not need to have vitamin supplements.

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PostSubject: Re: SMALL MAMMALS   Thu May 15, 2008 6:10 pm

Handling rats

The more attention you give your new rats when you first get them home, the sooner they will get used to your voice and your smell and begin to make friends with you. Handle your rats as much as possible, whether they seem to like it or not at first -- they will soon learn to enjoy your company. Unless a rat is very nervous or unwell, you cannot give it too much attention or handling. One good way of getting your rats used to you is to let them ride around the house on your shoulder or inside your sweater.

Rats should not be picked up by the tail -- they don't like it, and it can cause injury. It is best to lift your rats by placing one or both hands under the chest, behind the front legs -but be careful not to squeeze.
Handling rats

The more attention you give your new rats when you first get them home, the sooner they will get used to your voice and your smell and begin to make friends with you. Handle your rats as much as possible, whether they seem to like it or not at first -- they will soon learn to enjoy your company. Unless a rat is very nervous or unwell, you cannot give it too much attention or handling. One good way of getting your rats used to you is to let them ride around the house on your shoulder or inside your sweater.

Rats should not be picked up by the tail -- they don't like it, and it can cause injury. It is best to lift your rats by placing one or both hands under the chest, behind the front legs -but be careful not to squeeze.

Biting and nipping

Biting, out of fear or aggression, is unusual in pet rats. It is not something that you should have to put up with. Here are some of the situations where it may occur, and some possible solutions:

Male rats occasionally become aggressive towards humans and/or other rats at some point between 3-12 months of age, although if this happens it is most common at 4-5 months. The rat becomes 'super macho' if his levels of male hormones are too high. He will puff up his fur, hiss and huff at other rats and people, and may attack or bite cage-mates or his owners. He may also scratch at the floor, rub his sides against hard objects (to leave his scent), and leave trails of scent-marking pee wherever he walks. Normal, happy bucks may also scent-mark like this, but problem rats take it to extremes. If a male rat starts to squeak when you pick him up, or threatens to bite you when he is playing outside the cage, then we recommend that you take action quickly and do not leave it until you get bitten. This condition can usually be cured by having the rat castrated, and his hormonal levels and behaviour will return to normal after a few weeks. Castration also stops excessive scent-marking. A rat whose hormones are driving him to obsessive levels of aggression and sexual frustration is not a happy animal, and we do not think that it is fair to leave him in such a state. If you must have a buck neutered, make sure that you use a vet who has done this operation on rats before: rats have an internal muscular structure unlike that of dogs and cats, and a slightly different procedure must be used (the base of the inguinal canals must be stitched closed). Neutering can cost between £35-75 (prices last checked and updated 01/2007). The National Fancy Rat Society has a list of vets that have experience in dealing with rats.

Female rats sometimes bite when they are pregnant or have babies. This behaviour usually disappears when the babies are weaned. Although such biting is perhaps understandable, most female rats do not bite in these circumstances, so we believe that the biting doe should not be bred from again - she may pass the trait on to her offspring, and also the breeder may avoid handling the babies if she is worried that the mother will savage her. This means that the babies may not be as well socialised as they should be.

Intervening in a rat fight is a common way to get bitten. The rat may think that you are another rodent joining the scrum, and bite in self-defence. To avoid this, break up rat fights by squirting the animals with water from a plant spray, and separate the animals for a few hours until they cool down.

Finger nipping may occur if your rats are used to getting treats through the cage bars. This is not true biting, but merely an accidental nibble. If a finger is poked through the bars too, the rats may nip, mistaking the finger for food. Train your rats to tell the difference, by telling them when food is arriving - eg 'Sweeties!' - or fingers, eg 'Be gentle!'. If this fails, stop feeding treats through the bars; instead, open the cage door to put your hand inside when hand-feeding.

Sometimes a rat crops up which is just nasty. This is rare amongst rats from responsible breeders, but more common when indiscriminate breeding occurs. Not surprisingly, it is particularly common when rats which bite are bred from - the tendency towards bad temperament is often inherited, and may be recessive. This means that breeders need to select for good temperament in every generation, because even friendly rats may have the odd nasty child. Biters should never be bred from, no matter how pretty they are. If a rat continues to bite for more than a few weeks after castration or continued gentle handling, you should consider having the rat put to sleep. This is a difficult decision which no-one apart from the rat's owner can make, but the authors believe that a savage animal, kept permanently in its cage because people are scared to handle it, is not having much of a life. We would rather offer homes to other rats which could enjoy their lives more.

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PostSubject: Mice   Thu May 15, 2008 6:14 pm

Like all pets, the larger the cage the better. As mice have a tendency to gnaw, their cage should be made from hardwood, moulded plastics, metal, glass (fish tank), weld or wire mesh (ensuring the mesh is smaller than the mouse to stop it sneaking through.
A multi-storey cage is particularly suitable for mice, allowing them to indulge in their talent for climbing, and giving you pleasure in constructing it. Each level should have a floor in it to prevent the mouse from falling from top to bottom, connected with ladders leading to a hole onto the next level. Whether it is multi-storey or not, with a little imagination, you can make the mouse a lovely home. It's cage should have at least a nest box with bedding in which to sleep (this could be made of a wicker plant plot, a small cardboard box, etc., with commercially prepared bedding sold at pet shops or meadow hay), ropes and ladders for climbing, an exercise wheel, a twig or wooden cotton reel for gnawing, cardboard toilet tubes for exploring, etc. The more 'toys' it has, the happier it will be and the more fun to watch.
Female mice do not smell if their cages are kept clean, but male mice will smell a little. Their cage should have a layer of sawdust which should be replaced at least twice a week, with all areas scrubbed at least once a week with a mild disinfectant which should be rinsed off thoroughly, and the cage allowed to dry before replacing the sawdust. Having a spare cage could be useful to keep the mouse secure during this process. Their food dishes and drinking water should be thoroughly cleaned on a daily basis and refreshed.
Mice are fastidious about their personal hygiene and will adequately groom themselves without the need of our help.
They are easily handled. Mice are usually lifted out of their cage by their tail and quickly placed onto the palm of your other hand. They are more easily trained by offering them food from your hand.

Food

Mice are omnivorous in captivity. It is usual to feed two meals a day. Their diet should consist of a pet shop bought mouse food mix, raw fruit and vegetables (carrot, swede, celery, apple and green vegetables in moderation), hay, and, occasionally, boiled egg, ham, cheese. A salt and mineral block should also be available.
Drinking water is best provided in drip feed containers.

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PostSubject: Chinchilla   Thu May 15, 2008 6:40 pm



With curious personalities and soft plush fur, chinchillas make appealing pets for all ages. They sleep most of the day and become active in the evening. Chinchillas are natural acrobats and some find it hard to sit still, others love to be held and petted. It's best to keep two same-sex chinchillas as companions, as they are very social. With good care chinchillas can live over 10 years.

Avoid sudden movements and loud noises, so your chinchillas will trust you and let you handle them easily. They are naturally inquisitive and may sniff or gently nibble your fingers. Children should always be supervised when holding chinchillas, to prevent accidental falls and injuries. Daily exercise outside the cage, in a chinchilla-safe room, is vital to good health, and a daily bath in Chinchilla Dust is recommended.

Housing

Chinchillas need room to exercise, so choose the largest cage you can afford. Avoid those with wire floors, as they can seriously injure chinchillas' feet. Your chinchillas will enjoy multi-level cages, or shelves, as well as a hideaway house and a variety of safe wood chew toys. Cover the floor with a layer of safe bedding such as Aspen shavings or Carefresh. Do not use pine or cedar shavings, they contain harmful oils.

Diet

A healthy diet is based on specially formulated chinchilla pellets and good quality Timothy or alfalfa hay, available at all times. Adults may be offered one or two raisins occasionally as a treat and fresh water should always be available in a sipper bottle.

Cleaning

Clean soiled areas daily and change the bedding weekly. Food dishes, water bottles and the cage bottom need washing weekly. Always rinse and dry the cage well before adding fresh bedding.
Fertility Male chinchillas become sexually mature at around four months of age. To avoid health risks and unwanted babies, it's important to accurately sex and separate chinchillas no later than four months old.

Health

Be alert and consult an exotics vet if you notice signs of illness or injury such as: lack of appetite; drooling; changes in droppings; bald spots; discharge from eyes or nose; wheezing or noisy breathing.

Warnings

Open wire exercise wheels can cause serious injuries and should never be used for chinchillas.

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PostSubject: Gerbils   Thu May 15, 2008 6:44 pm

Gerbils are highly social colony animals and get miserable and depressed by themselves.
If you are not planning on breeding the best thing to do is to get two females or two males, preferably from the same litter. Two same-sex Gerbils will normally bond as closely as a mated pair and will be perfectly happy together.

House

One of the better and least expensive forms of housing is a simple aquarium of glass or plastic. For a pair of Gerbils a 15" by 12" by 10" tank is ideal. You may have to construct your own Gerbil proof lid but this is easily done with aviary wire from any DIY store. Open wire cages like those sold for Hamsters are best avoided as Gerbils have a tendency to kick the bedding out through the gaps while they dig and will often injure their nose by gnawing on the bars.

Gerbils do not smell so they do not need cleaning out as often as mice or rats. It is rarely necessary to clean Gerbils out more than once a week or fortnight.


Food

You will probably find your Gerbils are not particularly fussy. The best thing to do is to provide a basic diet of a seed mix such as Hamster food. You can supplement this with a very small amount of fresh fruit and vegetables Ė Gerbils do not need much fresh food and too much can make them ill. Gerbils will also eat insects and in the wild invertebrates are probably an important source of protein. As a treat Gerbils love Sunflower seeds but it is probably wise to limit these as they are high in fat. Gerbils also love the small seeds such as millet, that are in budgie and canary mix and these are probably better for them.

Water "mmm?"

While Gerbils come from dry steppe and semi-desert and do not drink much it is important that water is always available to them. The best thing to do is to use a small gravity-fed water bottle and refill it every time they empty it -- the small bottle will keep the water fresher.

Chew

Gerbils, like most rodents have a strong chewing instinct. They can keep their teeth at the proper length by grinding them together unless the teeth do not line up properly, but still instinctively chew on anything they can get their teeth on. Cardboard or shop bought chew sticks are OK, but the cheapest and best thing to do is to use branches and bark from trees in your area. Fruit tree prunings are ideal. Pine cones are a great hit too.

Gerbils together

Before gerbils are about 8 weeks they will normally accept the company of other Gerbils. Unfortunately, after that age it gets more difficult to introduce them. Males are much more easy to introduce to one another. They will normally accept a Gerbil that is under 8 weeks old and be very protective towards it. Females on the other hand can be very difficult to introduce other Gerbils to. This is because females are much more competitive and territorial than males are. Introducing adult gerbils often requires that special steps are taken. For example, many people use what is called "The Split Cage Method". This means that the gerbils have to live in the same tank or cage with a barrier between them. For several days the gerbils need to be swapped between the two halves of the tank until they get used to the scent of the other gerbil in "their" territory. Gerbils should never be introduced to a group of adult Gerbils. Even a simple pair will often fall out if another Gerbil is introduced as it disrupts the dominance hierarchy that the Gerbils have already established.

Life span

Gerbils normally live longer than mice, rats, hamsters and other small pets. Typically they die shortly before they reach the age of three. However, some gerbils will live significantly longer and may get as old as five.

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PostSubject: Ferrets   Thu May 15, 2008 6:48 pm



Ferrets have playful and inquisitive personalities that make them entertaining companions. They are highly intelligent and need considerable amounts of training and attention to prevent them getting into mischief. A ferret can live singly, provided it receives ample attention, or with others and given appropriate care can live from 6-10 years.

Ferrets need at least four hours a day of free exercise, in a ferret-proofed area. They can squeeze through gaps as small as 2 in x 2 in, so block all spaces under appliances, heaters and furniture. Also remove spongy objects like erasers, foam pillows, sponges, styrofoam or anything that could cause an obstruction if swallowed. Beware of bathtubs and other open containers of liquids which pose drowning hazards. Ferrets can also open cabinets and drawers, so secure them! Safe toys such as tubes and tunnels, cardboard boxes, rugged cat toys and balls will provide hours of fun.

Housing

For one or two ferrets choose a solid floored cage, as large as possible, to provide a safe place when they are not enjoying free exercise in your home. Aquariums and wire-floored cages are not suitable. Ferrets enjoy multi-level platforms, hidey-houses and soft sleeping areas, such as small rugs, hammocks or old sweatshirts. Add a litter-box, with pelleted type cat litter, not wood shavings; a heavy food bowl and a water bottle.

Diet

A healthy diet is based on premium ferret food containing 30-35% protein, primarily from animal sources and 15-20% fat. Avoid foods containing mineral oil and large amounts of vegetable fillers. Dry food and fresh water should be available at all times.

Cleaning

Remove soiled litter daily and change the bedding weekly. The litter-box, food dish, water bottles and cage bottom all need washing weekly. Always rinse and dry the cage well before returning your pets.
Fertility Male ferrets should be neutered to prevent unwanted babies, other benefits are reduced aggression, less odor and less spraying. Females should be spayed before their first heat to avoid serious health risks.

Health

Pet ferrets should be vaccinated against canine distemper and rabies. Find an exotics veterinarian with experience in treating ferrets and schedule annual check-ups. Be alert for signs of illness or injury and consult your vet if you notice something unusual.

Warnings

Children should always be supervised by an adult when handling pets, to avoid accidental injuries either to pet or child. Ferrets do not mix well most other pets, never leave them alone together.

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PostSubject: Hedgehog   Thu May 15, 2008 7:28 pm



Hedgehogs are naturally shy individuals that can live 5-7 years with proper care. They are nocturnal, sleeping during the day and becoming active in the evening. Hedgehogs are solitary in nature and seldom accept the company of another hedgehog.

When frightened, a hedgehog will roll tightly into a prickly ball so be sure to avoid sudden movements and loud noises. To pick up your pet, scoop it up gently from the rear and hold it underneath. When it feels safe, it will unroll and let you pet it.

Housing

A roomy solid bottom cage with a secure lid is ideal for hedgehogs. Take care to place the cage away from drafts, in an area between 65-80 degrees F. An under-cage heating pad may be needed to maintain a warm area. Cover the floor with safe bedding such as Aspen shavings or Carefresh. Hedgehogs frequently will use a litter box placed in a corner. They particularly appreciate a half log, tube or wood nesting box. A solid type exercise wheel will encourage your hedgehog to be active, but avoid wire wheels, like wire floors they can injure hedgehogs' feet.

Diet

Hedgehogs are omnivores. You can provide a balanced diet by combining commercial Hedgehog food and a good quality cat chow, such as Science Diet. Your pet will also enjoy the addition of a few mealworms or crickets and a small amount of mixed fresh fruit and vegetables, chopped up. Teach your hedgehog to use a water bottle and fill it with fresh water daily.

Cleaning

Remove soiled litter daily and replace all bedding three times a week. Remember to wash, rinse and dry the cage bottom, food dishes and water bottle each week.
Fertility Hedgehogs reach sexual maturity at around two months of age. They should be housed alone to avoid fighting.

Health

Locate an exotics veterinarian to treat your hedgehog and be alert for signs of illness or injury such as: lack of appetite; diarrhea; scaly skin or broken quills, drooling; sneezing or wheezing; lumps, bumps or wounds; limping or lethargy.

Warnings

Pine or cedar shavings contain harmful oils and should never be used for a hedgehog.

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PostSubject: Rat Respiratory Problems   Tue Aug 05, 2008 1:13 am

Rat Respiratory Problems

One of the most common health problems in rats is respiratory illness. Treatment should be started as soon as symptoms appear, or irreversible damage may be done to the nasal passages and lungs. Infections such as pneumonia should be taken very seriously as they can kill a rat in only a few days.

Mycoplasma pulmonis (myco) is a bacteria that is found in almost every rat. When rats are young and healthy, their immune systems are able to keep the bacteria in check, but if their immune systems are weakened the bacteria can multiply and cause more damage. Symptoms of a myco flare-up or respiratory infection usually include porphyrin (red mucus) around the nose and eyes, sneezing, noisy breathing, and "coughing" (appears similar to the hiccups).

There are quite a few factors that can greatly increase the chance of a myco flare-up or infection: the use of pine or cedar shavings, ammonia from a dirty cage, smoke, chemicals or harmful fumes, vitamin A or E deficiency, stress, old age, or illness. If the myco is able to multiply enough, it will start to irritate the lining of the nasal passages and lungs, causing them to produce mucus and scar tissue. The myco can also spread to the inner ear (seen as head-tilt) or uterus/genitals.

There is no cure for myco, but respiratory infections such as pneumonia can be treated. Antibiotics, a healthy diet, a clean cage, and an environment free from stress will help keep your ratís immune system strong and able to fight the myco. If a myco flare-up or infection occurs, you need to get antibiotics from your vet. Baytril (usually used in combination with doxycycline) is one of the more effective antibiotics against myco, but tetracycline, tylosin, and erythromycin are also capable of fighting myco and any secondary infections. Humidifiers, Bisolvon (decongestant), nebulizers, or having them in the bathroom while the shower is running can also help ease congested lungs. In most cases, eventually the myco will become resistant to treatment and the rat will not be able to breathe freely. In the late stages the rat may gasp through his/her mouth, become restless, the feet and tail tip may turn blue from lack of oxygen, and if the infection reaches the inner-ear head-tilt will also develop. When your ratís quality of life becomes poor, euthanasia (with anesthesia given before the injection) should be considered.
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