THAT THING YOU SAW ONLINE
Every day, most of us spend several hours on the internet and we rely on it when researching new information about our pets. Unfortunately, the web is full of bad advice, dangerous practices and horrible ideas. Here we will cover some of the common things you may see online that really shouldn't be done and the problems with certain resources.
BAD BAD ADVICE
Unfortunately there is alot of bad infomation out there and it can be very difficult for a new rat owner to filter through the good and the bad.
RAT CARE BOOKS AND LEAFLETS
Most pet stores will offer some kinda care leaflet, but unfortunately, these are just horrible. Pet store leaflets are known for how horrible they are regardless of what animal it is for. After all, pet stores aren't famous for caring for their animals' well being, they're there to make money.
Another source of information you would expect to be good, are various rat care books. These are notorious for having very outdated info that doesn't hold any water in the current times. Books by Debbie “The Rat Lady” Ducommun are very easy to find and many of us who are currently adults may have read them as kids if we had rats. These books are not good and a massive portion of the info does not hold to today's standards.
PET HELP WEBSITES
Many websites that have a collection of information on a million different animals are doomed to get the entire rodent section wrong regardless of the rodent. Rats have very different care compared to mice and hamsters. Sites such as pethelpful, are not that helpful. Many sites that offer advice on pets are promoted by large brands and for this reason a lot of their advice is biased. Brands such as kaytee and living world can often be found on such sites, often promoted as the best thing out there, while experienced rat owners will know it couldn't be further from the truth.
There are quite a few rat youtubers out there currently, but unfortunately this doesn't make it a reliable source of information. Most rat youtubers are a good source of information for one thing, but questionable for another. While one youtuber might be good for health, their husbandry may be questionable, or one is fantastic for trick training and fun stuff, they may not be the best for health. When looking at youtube videos its always good to double check the information, and if possible, check out the sources in the description and make sure the video isn't sponsored by a pet brand.
Reddit is a wild west and really not reliable for anything that comes to rat care. Any random person can give you advice, even if they've never even held a rat in their life. It is best to avoid asking serious help on reddit.
This is something you will come across online without fail if you are looking at rat content. Regardless of it being widespread, it is NOT okay. Interspecies interaction is incredibly risky and completely unnecessary as it doesn't benefit the rats in any way, it is only for our entertainment.
The argument you will hear is ”but my dog is a good boy, he'd never hurt another animal!”. It doesn't matter how docile your dog supposedly is. Them attacking is the obvious thing to worry about, as dogs are predators, but there is a more invisible danger lurking. Dogs carry a lot of bacteria in their mouth and it doesn't really cause them problems, but it can harm humans in some situations, let alone small animals such as rats. As animals that go outside several times a day, dogs have a very, very high chance of bringing in parasites and pathogens that the rats' immune systems are not adjustd to. Ringworm is a great example of a parasite that will just make its way into a house hold on dogs. This parasite does not care about species or breed. Its a quick spreader and can get everywhere without us noticing as it can present as asymptomatic for a while.
Cats are extremely dangerous to any and all small animals from birds, to rabbits to rodents. Cats have the same risk of bringing in pathogens and parasites as dogs. Cats are even more likely to do this due to often being left outside without any supervision and care, meaning they often cross paths with wild and come in direct contact with them. Cats' saliva and nails are even more dangerous than dogs. Cats have a "toxic" bacteria in their saliva that becomes lethal to small animals such as birds, rabbits and rodents unless the victim is put on antibiotics straight away. A tiny, almost invisible wound or even just a little skin scrape caused by a cat's tooth or claws can very easily be fatal. Cats should not be let into the rat room under any circumstances, even if you are supervising them. Even if the cat is minding its own business, its scent is still very distressing.
OTHER SMALL RODENTS & RABBITS
Rats are predators to most small rodents such as mice and natal mice. By letting them interact you are risking both parties getting severely injured. Rabbits may seem harmless, but it takes just one kick to kill a rat. Rabbits have extremely powerful legs, sharp nails and big teeth, which all can cause massive damage. Your rat is also a danger to the rabbit.
Birds are fragile and rats are predators to them. Do not let your rat interact with your birds as they can severely injure each other in a blink of an eye.
ESSENTIAL OILS & OTHER HOMEOPATHY
Animals cannot decide the ”medical” care they are provided with. As their caretakers, it is our responsibility to offer them safe, regulated and proven medicine. Us as humans can use homeopathy if we so desire, we can make the conscious decision for ourselves. Do not make this risky decision for your pets. Homeopathy and oils are not regulated nor do we understand their effects fully on people, let alone our small pets.
Many essential oils are known to be extremely toxic to rats. For example, tea tree oil is a very common essential oil many of us have in our homes in the form of shower and skin care products. The toxicity of tea tree oil is well documented in experimental studies in rats. This is just one of the many essential oils dangerous to rats. Do not mix ANY essential oils in their drinking water, use in air fresheners/humidifiers/etc, do not use it on the rats in any shape or form.
You may see colloidal silver products in pet stores, especially in the USA. You'd expect it to be some kinda regulated legit product as it is sold directly in store. Colloidal silver should not be given to rats under any circumstance, it offers no benefits. Over time, colloidal silver builds up in the body's tissue and mucous membranes and can cause various issues. On top of this, colloidal silver is known to significantly reduce the effectiveness of antibiotics, which are life saving, especially for rats who are prone to have respiratory issues.
HERBS & FLOWERS
Herbs and flowers are not a proven form of medication. Many flowers that are okay for humans are dangerous to our pets, for example aloe vera. Herbs and edible flowers can be a great source of vitamins alongside medicine, but should not be used to replace proven and regulated medicine.