10 Must Knows, Before Buying a Pouched Rat

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    Gambian pouched rat cub, Cricetomys gambianus, isolated on white background
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    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. They are fascinated! 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. It’s just not worth your toddler losing a finger for.

    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. In most cases the cat or dog will come off worse.

    Not only this but how many sleepless nights and busy days do you have with a child? how could you find time to spend with your pouched rat and give it the attention it needs to remain tame and bonded to you. How much time? well that leads us on to..

    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. So you are looking to be running around chasing your giant friend around the house until 11pm everynight. Yes that includes birthdays, Friday nights, Christmas day. Expect the excuse “Sorry i need to let my rat out” for leaving a party early to wear thin quickly. Without this “out time” your pouchie may become Un-handlable and miserable.

    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 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..

    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. Not all breeders do. Breeders should have a good bond with their Dame. This means from Day 1 they can begin to handle the babies and get them used to be being with humans. This should mean that by week 6 (the age that any respectable breeder should allow babies to leave their mum) they are well tamed and used to being around humans. 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

    So 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! Imagine if your pouched rat developed an infection in their pouch and needed expert medical care costing several thousand pounds (true story).

    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 Plan Plan and Plan some more. 

    You should plan for your new arrival months before you get them. 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. Being patient is key. Spend your time reading, join the community and learn from other owners. That way you are fully prepared that exciting day when you bring them home and nothing will be unexpected.

     

     

    8 COMMENTS

    1. I did a lot of research, including meeting pouched rats, a few years ago, joined clubs and forums, preparing myself to become a pouching mum. When I got to the point where I was ready, it seemed pouching pups were no longer being bred in the UK. If they are now available again, I would be very interested in buying a single pouched rat once my current fancy rats pass away *current ages 1 year 4/3 months*

      • Hello! thanks for your comment, yes we are working on getting them back and established in the UK, feel free to join our facebook group for the latest information. We are still a little way away from a fully established breeding program

    2. Do you know if there are any breeders in tube US? In not ready right yet but if like to get some hands on time working with them even if its volunteer work.

      • i’m afraid there isnt any breeders we know if the US due to import laws in getting them over there, hopefully in the future

    3. Thanks for this interesting article. Other rats are highly sociable animals, to the point that it’s not advisable to have only one rat. Is that also true for pouched rats? In other words, should you really get two at a time?

      • Hi Suzanne, although they do totally fine on their own they will tolerate a sibling, or if a male is castrated, living with a female. They are more independent that say, fancy rats.

    4. I have had many many pet rats for years. The thing that I find most attractive about owning a pouched rat is their lifespan. I don’t like that regular rats live for only 2 years or so. But with regular pet rats, they cannot be kept alone so all of my rats have always had friends. Can I own a single pouched rat or do I need to have more than one?

      • Hi Sathariel. Pouched Rats do not strictly need to be kept in groups, some will not tolerate others at all. Saying this the ones we did keep in pairs are mixed sex, either due to the male being castrated or in others as they are breeding pairs. In these cases they are happy groups.

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