Baby rats, also known as kittens, pups or puppies, are one of the most adorable creatures that you can have as pets. However, they are not so easy to care for as baby rats require a lot of attention & assistance, especially if they are without a mother. Things do get easier for baby rats with mothers, in terms of survival however, there is hardly any guarantee that unless you devote a large amount of time to them, they will probably never get to grow big.
Baby rats are born after about a 3 ? 4 week long gestation period. It takes another 13 ? 16 days more for them to open their eyes however their sense of smell and hearing is already up and running and at pretty high levels too.
Baby rats must never be fed animal formula or substitutes for their mother?s milk at an early age. Unless it is a case of the baby rat not having a mother, it should never be weaned from the mother. Also, baby rats do need to be slowly introduced to solid food. Unlike humans, when they grow teeth, they can start gnawing through stuff just like their elders so no need for purees in their lifestyle.
By around the 6th week of their life, baby rats start moving away from their mothers. This is when they tend to move away from the rest of the litter as well but ideally, it is best to keep them with other rats or creatures so that they can be easily socialized as they grow up.
If you are a breeder, then you need to understand that there will be a regular cycle of baby rats coming your way every few months. Therefore, you need to be able to support all the babies while preparing for the next batch coming through. Chances are, if you are a breeder, that you will have a number of female rats and there is a high degree of possibility that all those females might get impregnated at around the same time. So it could mean a lot of time spent in caring for the young ones coming through.
The ideal cage for baby rats needs to be one which has smaller gaps in the mesh. Whether you are using a wire mesh cage or a plastic one, babies can be pushed out of the sides by their mother or other babies. To ensure that they don?t slip out of the gaps, it is important to have a fine wire or plastic mesh. Remember that plastic can be chewed through so that poses another risk in itself. You can also choose to keep baby rats in an aquarium with the mother however, that might be a little difficult as it would require regular cleaning and upkeep. Aquariums can get filthy and smelly quite quickly and there is always a chance that baby rats might pick up an infection quite easily.
To avoid such a situation, use a clean wire cage and remember to maintain it well as these baby rats are prone to catching something dangerous. If there is a mother, then she would pretty much take care of the important parts but in case there isn?t one, then you need to take her place.
If there is no mother, or if the mother refuses to nurse the babies, then you need to look at other substitutes such as dogs?, cats? or goats? milk. If these are unavailable, then you can look at baby formula or soy milk as possible substitutes. The baby formula that you use must have as little iron in it as possible. To feed them, you need to become their mother.
Using a dropper or a syringe, you need to squeak and wiggle the needle/dropped in their mouth while releasing a few drops of milk. The baby needs to be fed slowly so you need to be extremely patient. Rub the baby rat?s belly as soon as it has had its fill as it needs to digest the food. Rubbing helps not only to digest the food, but pass urine and feces as well.
In the first week of their birth, baby rats need to be fed every two hours. This duration increases to 4 hours by the second week. Hand-fed baby rats, as they grow, need to get accustomed to eating on their own so it is wise to leave some dry food just lying around, along with some fresh water. As their eyes open, they will begin eating the dry food more than the normal hand-fed milk formula. Also, milk is important to these baby rats and you need to ensure that it is always there at their disposal.
Baby rats are wonderful and beautiful creatures but to be able to enjoy them, you need to be willing to spend a lot of time and effort in nurturing them. Bringing life into the world is a difficult task but to nurture it is harder, especially so in the case of baby rats.