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Friday, April 25, 2014

Carriers for Rats

Bela in our Petmate Look 'N See Kennel, back from the vet

Bela had to see the vet for the first time today. She and her sisters turned one year old sometime this month and with turning that corner comes the inevitable appearance of respiratory infections. This week, I started to hear the faint "rubber lung" breathing sounds coming from Bela that unfortunately mean a respiratory infection is starting to catch up with her. With that, come vet trips and the need for a good rat carrier to transport her in. (Bela is now on Baytril and Doxycycline and we will hopefully nip this in the bud).

It took us a while to find a good rat carrier. When we got our first rats, I used a small bird carrier I had on hand (similar to the one shown on the left). They are good for babies because the bar spacing is very narrow and the little ratties cannot escape. However, our first boys quickly grew out of that squirmy baby stage and into the big squish stage, and the little bird carriers were way too small.

We looked at small animal carriers, but they all were either too small or made from fabric mesh that a determined rat could quickly chew his or her way out of. For a while, I made my own carrier out of a plastic bin, with the plastic cut out of the lid and a small wire panel from a bird cage zip tied over the opening. But this was only a temporary solution. The ventilation was not great and I don't think the rats felt comfortable inside.

I saw a carrier like the one we currently have (pictured at the top and below) on an episode of iCarly that my kids were watching. They were using it to hold a ferret and it looked perfect. But I couldn't find a small animal carrier like that anywhere. Turned out, I was looking in the wrong place.

In fact, this is a small dog/cat carrier. I found it by accident at Petsmart when they were stacked against the back wall in the clearance section (Petsmart no longer carries this model).  I would never have thought to look for it in the dog/cat section. It is the Petmate Look 'N See Kennel and it is still available from Amazon.

Of course, in retrospect, it makes sense that a cat carrier would make a good rat carrier, as long as the openings are not too big for a rat to squeeze through. I just never thought to look in the cat section. And I like this model especially because of the all metal wire top, which provides the good ventilation that a rat needs and which cannot be chewed. There are also no exposed plastic edges that a rat could chew on. It is the perfect size for rats - large enough for a couple of rats for a short period of time but easy enough to carry around at a vet's office. The smallest babies may still need a smaller carrier until they are big enough not to squeeze through the door openings and if you are taking a long trip you may need a larger transport cage rather than a carrier, but for juvenile and adult rats and quick trips to the vet, this carrier is perfect.

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