Rats are adorable little pets that need proper attention from their owners and get sad if left alone for too long. Because of their need to stay close, most owners take the rats with them when they’re going on a trip. But not everyone can manage to bring their pet rats along.
Wondering what to do with pet rats while on vacation? The best option is to hire a rat-sitter or ask a friend or an adult family member to take care of them. You can either send them to their place or give keys to your home to the caretaker who should visit at least once every day to feed the rats, give them water, play with them and clean their cage.
Read on to learn some reasons why rats shouldn’t be left alone, along with a guide on leaving them behind as well as taking them with you.
Why can’t I just leave my rats alone?
There are plenty of reasons why you shouldn’t leave your rats alone when you’re on vacation, be it inside their cage or free in a closed room. If the temperatures suddenly rise due to a heatwave, your rats might die due to overheating inside a closed space. Similarly, in case of a blizzard, they might shiver if the heating turns off due to some reason.
Rats are escape artists. They might find a way out of their cage and escape. The males might enter a female’s cage and mate. This isn’t good for rat owners who aren’t ready to take care of baby rats.
Rats can also chew through floors and walls if left in an open room. They are at risk of getting lost under the floor or inside a wall. They can also escape outdoors, which is never safe for pet rats.
Your rat might chew on something that is harmful or toxic and requires urgent attention. Rats may also choke on their food and need someone to help them throw up.
Pregnant rats might end up giving birth sooner than expected and may need help if the birth process is hard.
Rats can break into each other’s cages and get in a fight. They can hurt baby rats or inflict a deep wound that needs proper medical attention. Wounds can also become infected and need drugs to heal.
Your rat may be in the early stages of an illness like respiratory disease and not showing symptoms when you’re leaving. But since infections and diseases compromise health much quicker in rats, they might not survive if treatment is delayed even for a day or two. A rat may fall from a height and strain a muscle, or worse, break a bone.
If there are objects like a thread or rope lying around, rats may start playing with it. These can tangle around a limb or the neck of a rat, cutting off blood flow.
The cages of rats need to be cleaned very frequently. It’s never a good idea to let feces and urine accumulate in their cage for weeks. Even if you leave them open, they might urinate or defecate on a spot you’d want to remain clean otherwise. Cleaning after a week or two is going to be really hard. The smell will be horrid, urine also turns into ammonia, which causes mycoplasma in rats, and feces can grow moldy and stain the mat or cage.
The water you leave for rats will eventually evaporate and leave the rats thirsty, and the food you give the rats for a week will probably go stale after two days. This will leave the rats hungry. Rats may also chomp down on a lot of food on the first day, which is bad for their health.
Pet rats are likely to get stressed when they aren’t interacting with a human for a while. They need the rubs, pats and occasional massages. Playing with rats keeps them mentally and physically healthy.
Guide on leaving rats behind when you’re on vacation
Here are a couple of tips on leaving rats in the care of other people:
- Make sure you trust the person you’re leaving the rats with. They should be reliable and responsible.
- Even though a family member may love your pet rat, they might not be the best choice.
- Always leave a mature adult in charge.
Give the person taking care of your rats with thorough instructions. It’s better if you give them in person, but make sure to write everything down. The guide should include:
- The time of feeding
- The names of the pet rats and their color/prominent feature
- The amount of food you provide
- Medicines and the dosage, if any
- Any particular quirks of the rats (if they like to escape or if they like to fight etc.)
- How to properly latch the cage
Never ask the person in charge to play with your rats by letting them out if they’re not comfortable. The last thing you want is the person losing a rat. If you’re asking someone who the rats have played with before, then sure, but never let the person in charge open the cage of rats if they’re not at your home.
How to take your rats with you during your vacation
These are a couple of things you should keep in mind if you’re taking your pet rats with you:
Take your pet rat with you only if it’s necessary. Travelling can be stressful for rats. If you’re going on vacation for a month, can’t find a family member or friend to sit your rats or can’t afford a rat sitter, then it’s a good idea to take your rats along.
If you’ve already booked a motel, hotel, or rental apartment, ask them if you can bring your rat along. If you haven’t already booked, are going to visit multiple places or aren’t sure of how long your vacation will be, make a list of places where you can stay with your pet rat. Book the ones that are pet-friendly and also in your budget.
If you’re not planning to travel by road in your car, then make sure the airline you’re flying with, or the train or bus you’re catching allows pets, specifically rodents. Call ahead of time and make sure they let rats on board.
Remember to bring along extra water and food. You never want to stress your pet rat with hunger during the trip. Keep some snacks and treats in your bag and give it to your rat every couple of hours. You can use a cloth bag to keep the treats in and put the food on a cloth as well.
Additionally, we recommend getting a pet’s travel water bottle that you can find in various pet stores like Petco. These contain enough water for a trip and are designed spill-proof.
Tie a tag or card with your name, address, email, and phone number to the cage, so in case the pet cage goes missing, is left behind at a station or is stolen, you can be reunited with your furry little friend.
You can’t leave your rat home alone while you’re on vacation. Either hire someone to take care of your little pet, ask a favor of someone you trust, or take the rat with you on vacation.