• What Your Rat Sitter Needs to Know

    Posted on March 9, 2016 by in Behavior, Care, Health, Nutrition, Play, Wordless Wednesday

    two rats snuggled up together
    Whether or not your rat sitter is familiar with pet rats, you’ll want to review the symptoms indicating distress along with your rats’ day-to-day needs such as feeding and cleaning.

    Here’s a guide of what to cover with your sitter:


    Make sure your sitter knows what is normal and what is not. Discuss this list of symptoms requiring immediate veterinary care:

    • Puffed up fur (Someone not familiar with rats could easily think this is normal.)

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      Puffed up fur is usually a sign of pain from illness and/or injury and requires immediate veterinary care.

    • Making any type of sounds while breathing (A person not familiar with rats could think this is also normal. They may think your rat is “talking” and/or that your rat sounds “cute”.)
    • Excessive sneezing
    • Not moving
    • Not eating
    • Porphyrin (The red secretion generated by the Harderian gland located behind rats’ eyes that looks like blood. This generally is a symptom of stress and/or illness.)
    • Squinting, closed eye or eye with discharge (Eye problems should be tended to ASAP to increase the likelihood of full recovery of the eye.
    • When to See a Veterinarian offers additional details about urgent situations

    Plan Ahead

    What do you want your pet sitter to do if one of your rats appears to be sick? Do you want her to take your rat to the vet? If so, which vet? Is there an after-hours emergency vet in your area? Do you want your pet sitter to call you before/during/after taking your rat to the vet? These are things you need to discuss and establish desired outcomes with your rat sitter.

    What Is “Normal”?

    • What and how much do they eat each day?
    • Is there anything they absolutely should NOT eat? (Make sure your sitter knows about Dangerous Foods.)
    • Do your rats enjoy playtime outside of their cage?
    • Are they normally chewers? —-of bedding, of the room in which they play, etc. This will help your pet sitter assess if your rats are excessively nervous and missing their human or if they’re just behaving as usual.
    • Have their stools been normal lately?
    • Where and how much do they normally urinate/defecate?
    • Do they have any medical problems? If so, describe what your pet sitter needs to look out for.
    • Is there anything your rats do that might seem unusual to the to a pet sitter not familiar with rats? (Bruxing and Boggling would be great to educate your pet sitter about if they haven’t previously taken care of rats)

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    • How do your rats like to play?
    • Where do they like to play?
    • What do they like to play with or in?

    It’s very helpful when your pet sitter can continue your normal daily routine with your rats.

    The Basics

    Details on feeding, cleaning and even where to throw out the garbage are very helpful to convey to your rat sitter. Also, don’t forget to let your sitter know to change your rats’ water bottles daily.

    Where would we be without our wonderful rat sitters? After all, there are some instances when we can’t travel with our rats.


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8 Responses so far.

  1. Lindsay says:

    I’m always learning new things when I come to your page. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  2. Robin says:

    Very interesting! I didn’t know about puffed up fur being a symptom of pain or illness in rats. That is a unique trait not shared with cats or dogs. I wonder if hamsters, gerbils, or guinea pigs are that way.

    • Birds often get puffed up while they sleep in order to stay warmer. If they’re awake and puffed up it usually means they’re sick or, at the very least, they’re cold.

      Thanks for stopping by, Robin!

  3. That’s interesting about the puffed up fur. We have a rabbit, cats, and a dog and it’s tricky to find a pet sitter that knows about all three!

    • I agree it’s tricky to find a pet sitter already knowledgeable about several types of pets. I hope you’ve found a great pet sitter for your cats, dog and rabbit. We have a great sitter for our cats and I prefer taking road trips whenever I can so I can bring my rats with me.

  4. I don’t think I would be a great rat sitter – I knew none of the answers. Puffed hair? that was not anything I would have even thought to be a sign of distress. Very interesting stuff here…

    • I think you’d be an excellent rat sitter, Cathy! You don’t need to know all the answers in advance, but instead need to have the love of learning about animals which you certainly have. ♥