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Before I had ferrets, I had fancy rats. I recently found out about Gambian rats when watching a documentary about them and how they could detect tuberculosis and land minds. I find them to be amazing and highly intelligent creatures. I decided that I would write this guide on what I had learned about Gambians. Overall, taking on a Pouched Rat is a huge responsibility, we all want the best lives for our pouched rats and a lot of new owners underestimate the care, dedication and expense of keeping one.
These are 10 things you should know before you take home your new pouched rat.
1. Breeders typically charge between ₤ 200 and ₤ 400 for a pouched rat.
Unlike their fancy cousins pouched rats are not cheap to buy, this is not just because they are a rare exotic but the price is artificially high as it keeps most unsuitable owners priced out. If you do not have the money to purchase a pouched rat in the first place you probably don’t have the money to look after one in the long term. While bedding and food costs add up, Vet Visits even when insured can cost much more than your typical pet due to there being very few vets who will work on them.
2. They are not suitable for people with young children or nosey cats/ dogs.
Lets face it, its near possible to keep a child who has an interest in animals away from a pet. That’s not to say its a bad thing but the child can come off quite badly if the pouched rat decided to become jealous or took a dislike to a young child.
The same goes for dogs and cats who may be nosey and want to sniff/ play with their new friend. Unlike fancy rats, pouched rats are generally not scared of cats and will happily attack a cat or dog. The cat or dog will come off worse.
Not only this but how many busy days and sleepless nights do you have with a child? How much time?
3. They should receive 1– 2 hours of good quality out the cage time every single day.
Yup, 1– 2 hours every night, and we say night because most pouched rats don’t wake until gone 9pm. Expect the excuse “Sorry i need to let my rat out” for leaving a party early to wear thin quickly.
4. They are not like Fancy Rats
The biggest question we get asked is, “are they not just like giant fancy rats”? while the general vibe and some little quirks are the same, they are very much not like fancy rats. They are much more unpredictable, much more head strong, skittish and physically strong, not to mention more destructive.
There life span is 3 x longer than a fancy rat’s 1– 2 years, being closer to 6-7 years sometimes 8. For someone who is used to have the option to re-asses their situation every 2 years when they lose their fancy rats, 6-7 years it quite a while longer.
Not only the above but diet is different, with pouched rats eating much more fresh fruit and veg than fancies rats.
5. A bite that could lose you a finger
Yes if you’ve been bitten by an animal we all know it hurts, pouched rats take this to extreme. With their larger size and larger teeth comes a larger bite. It’s so important to work and train with your pouched rat so that it does not begin to bite as a bite at the wrong time, in the wrong place, could land you in hospital requiring stitches or worse.
Should this happen however this doesn’t mean you need to re home your pouched rat. Take things slow and work with them, a bite usually means something is wrong and while you should consult experience owners, it wouldn’t be reasonable to assume your pouched rat is “broken” and needs to go.
6. Not all breeders are the same
Buying from a breeder who is experienced is incredibly important and that reason we always recommended NPRS breeders. We work with our breeders to ensure they are keeping to the right ethics. Breeders that allow their babies to leave early on the premise that it helps them to bond are merely trying to cover the fact that they could not handle the babies until that point and do not have a bond with their dame.
7. They need a lot of roaming room
Bigger animals require a lot of exercise and Pouched Rats benefit from having the run of the entire house (most of it anyway). This means you have to run around checking they are not tearing up carpets, chewing wires, pulling down your favorite vase. Excellent alternative to the gym.
8. Pouched Rats should be insured
Your pouched rat has just done a death defying leap from their cage to the shelf and missed, fallen and broken a leg. Happy days … trip to the vets … Your local vet does not work with exotics and can’t help.
After a lot of searching you find a vet 120 miles away who will charge you ₤ 400 to sedate, reset and wrap their leg.
That’s a good day! If your pouched rat developed an infection in their pouch and needed expert medical care costing several thousand pounds (true story), imagine.
Pouched rats should be insured to ensure you can always provide the best medical care for them and only have to pay for the excess. Insurance can range from ₤ 10-20 per month.
9. Pouched Rats really need forever homes.
Pouched rats spend a lot of time bonding to their owner, learning their way around their house, their cage, the smells, the sounds. They begin to relax and become confident with their owner.
Suddenly they are re-homed and have no idea whats happened. Some animals can get over this change but for pouched rats, its a big deal. They tend to become difficult and hard to handle and this usually means they go full circle and end up back with their originally breeder or worse, on preloved/ gumtree.
We love to see owners who will keep their pouched rats forever putting them first.
The biggest reason for pouched rats being rehomed is due to the owner moving and not being able to bring them along. Pouched rats are great for people who own their own homes, who wont suffer if the pouched rat decides to consume their curtains, or snack on their skirting boards.
10. Plan and Plan some more.
Most breeders lists will be long, and will not be breeding very often. You may be waiting up to a year for a baby from a good quality, respected breeder. Spend your time reading, join the community and learn from other owners.
That’s not to say its a bad thing but the child can come off quite badly if the pouched rat decided to become jealous or took a dislike to a young child. Unlike fancy rats, pouched rats are generally not scared of cats and will happily attack a cat or dog. Yup, 1– 2 hours every night, and we say night because most pouched rats don’t wake until gone 9pm. Yes if you’ve been bitten by an animal we all know it hurts, pouched rats take this to extreme. It’s so important to train and work with your pouched rat so that it does not begin to bite as a bite at the wrong time, in the wrong place, could land you in hospital requiring stitches or worse.