Long Lived Ratties

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quinn
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Long Lived Ratties

Post by quinn » Fri May 27, 2011 9:13 pm

I apologise if this is in the wrong place, but wasn't sure quite where to put it.

I've seen on this forum that some people have managed to keep their rats from 2 and a half years upwards.
I've had many rats over the last 8 years (or so) but none of them ever got to 3, the most got to 2 and a few months perhaps, maybe a little more.

So I'm wondering if perhaps it's a general thing that my rats seem not to reach 3 years or whether I'm doing something I shouldn't be or that there's something I should be doing etc or whether it's simply 'luck of the draw' that some rats are longer lived than others?

More curious about whether rats living past 2 and half years is 'the norm' or whether it's unusual/rare and if there's anything at all I could do to help my rats to live longer (obviously if they were happy and not suffering or in any pain).

Sadly most of mine were lost due to illness/tumours around the 2 year mark, maybe some just over.

Just any thoughts or ideas would be good - always on the look out to improve the health of my babies :)
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Re: Long Lived Ratties

Post by stormsmuggler » Fri May 27, 2011 9:46 pm

This is why breeders rats are best because they are closely monitoring the lines the rats come from and trying to improve their health and longevity, whereas pet shops rats generally have a poor start in life, poor diet, milk from a mum who has not fully recovered from having her last litter and are often taken away from mum too soon etc. I've had 3 make it to 28 months but most have passed at the 2 year mark or sooner :( but the majority of my rats have/are rescue rats and therefore probaby from pet shops.
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Re: Long Lived Ratties

Post by Betterstar » Fri May 27, 2011 10:37 pm

I think you may notice it more because it's something really special - not everyone posts about 1st birthdays, but a lot of people would post 3rd birthdays if they had a rat clever enough to reach such a grand age. It's unlikely to be anything you're doing wrong if your rats are still reaching good ages on average.

We've had one boy reach 3, out of 13 past rats. Of the others 4 have lived beyond 28 months, 4 lived over 18 months but didn't quite make it to 2, and the other 4 all died between a year and 18 months.
Sian & Boojum, Minnow, Poot, Esme, Oak, Burdock, Ptarmigan, Blunder and Jacques.
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Re: Long Lived Ratties

Post by daffee » Sat May 28, 2011 9:22 am

Average lifespan is Only 24 months sadly :sadrat:

Oldest we've known we've had was 31.5 :rainbow:
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Re: Long Lived Ratties

Post by Rhi01 » Sat May 28, 2011 11:46 am

On average most of mine (both breeder and rescue) have died between the ages of 18-24 months. At the moment the oldest rat I have ever had (rescue) is still going at 30 months, three (x2 rescue and x1 breeder) between 26-28 months old and another two (both breeder) at 23 months. (Inga and Fizz are only 8 months old so don't really count with regards to age at the moment :hearts: )
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Re: Long Lived Ratties

Post by Ratty_Rhian » Sat May 28, 2011 1:05 pm

I just took 2 rats to the vet. One was 15 months and she was PTS die to a ZGT unfortunately. The other I adopted in October and was told that she was 3 (she is just old and I came home with her and some metacam to help her swollen joints). Even if this isn't true and she was 2 she is still around 32 months now or if we believe the age her previous owner said that will put her at 44 months. We were talking about this topic in the car on the way home. My old girl ever since I got her (rescue probably pet shop background) has slept very deeply and for the majority of the day. I think she must have a slower metabolism as she came to me quite overweight despite having a lovely large cage in her previous home and she has always done everything slowly. All my females up until now have always been in a rush.
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Re: Long Lived Ratties

Post by MistressSadako » Sat May 28, 2011 1:13 pm

I have on rat at the moment who is 36.5 months - and she is far and away the oldest rat I've ever owned. She sadly has internal tumors that make her appear hugely fat, but she's happy and agile, still climbs and is very able to do everything my younger rats can. It's such a shame about the tumors which are obviously getting bigger, because without them I feel she could have gone on a good long time!

I think the other oldest rat I've had was about 32-33 months when died a happy old man in his sleep. I've had quite a few reach 28 months, and 30 months but also quite a few who haven't even made it to 24 months :(

The one's I've lost much too young are the reasons that myself and Jemma of Muse Rats have become involved with 2 other ratteries to form the Tabi Initiative. Our main goal is to try to extend the average lifespan of our lines, while also trying to ensure health into longevity. It'll be a long and slow process, but I desperately hope we can accomplish something good.
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Re: Long Lived Ratties

Post by longlegs » Sat May 28, 2011 5:51 pm

I think there are a few different factors to mention here.
Betterstar wrote:I think you may notice it more because it's something really special - not everyone posts about 1st birthdays, but a lot of people would post 3rd birthdays if they had a rat clever enough to reach such a grand age.
Firstly I want to pick up on this point, and say I think it’s a really important one to remember. A bit like looking at the health part of the forum would give you the impression that rats are constantly sick, but it’s only because people wouldn’t really post about their healthy rats there. I recently posted about one of my girls reaching 30 months old – but sadly I lost her sisters at 12 and 19 months :(

Secondly, I think it makes a difference whether people are talking about current or past ratties. Generally people have a more accurate memory of their current rats’ ages (although I do still see posts where a particular rat has miraculously changed their age by a couple of months within a week or so, and a couple of months is a long time for a rat). I do think that people’s memories of past rats can become seriously warped. You hear people saying about their rats that lived to 3 or 4 or 5, and of course sometimes it is correct but many times I am sceptical, as the facts don’t always match up. For a long time, I thought of one of my first rats back in 1997 as living to nearly 3. When I sat down a couple of years ago and worked out the dates, I realised she lived around half that time. It’s amazing how unreliable the human brain can be at times!

I had kept rats for 14 years before I finally had one that I knew made it to 3 (my Ruby, who died a couple of months ago aged 37 months). I always thought I was doing something wrong as none of mine got to that age. But then I looked at my records. Most of my past rats I don’t have enough information on, only unreliable memories, but from about the last 5 years I have lost 33 rats with reasonably accurate dates to go on. Out of those 33, 11 have made it to over 2.5 years, and 11 others reached between 2 and 2.5 years. None were from breeders. From that, it appears I’m lucky enough to have rats doing slightly better than average, although not massively so.

I could go into detail about the way I look after my rats, but honestly I don’t think it’s anything special. Beyond a good basic level of care (which, being on the forum and asking questions like this, you probably give already) I really do think it is luck of the draw.

The factors I will mention briefly are health care and keeping active. Over the past couple of years, I seem to have got quite a few comments that my old rats look younger than they are. I feel it is quite common to talk about certain things as being normal for old rats. Things like hind leg weakness, tiredness, confusion. I used to be of the same opinion, until I starting viewing and treating my rats in a different way. Rather than assuming that rats over 18 months or 2 years are old, and therefore going to be slowing down and needing life made easier for them, they get treated the same as everyone else. I have 5 boys ranging from 21 to 23.5 months, who all balance on thin ropes, jump and swing about like youngsters. One of the older pair (who has heart problems) has just jumped a 2 foot high bit of correx with ease. I now view this as normal for older rats. If they start showing ‘signs of old age’, to me this means signs of illness and they are checked out and given appropriate medication and/or supplements. Experience helps here, as when you have seen a health problem once, each successive time it becomes easier to spot, in turn leading to quicker treatment and often a better prognosis (depending on the individual, of course). Obviously this means a happier, healthier rat, but as a bonus it can definitely prolong life if the illness is a life limiting one.

The only thing that sprang to mind while reading your post is it sounds like a fair few of yours suffered from tumours? If that is the case, it may be worth assessing whether your rats have a tendency to be overweight, as this can encourage tumour growth. Please note, this is not a criticism in any way, it’s not just fat rats that get tumours and I know nothing about your rat-keeping – for all I know your rats could all be really slim. I just know that a lot of rats steadily put on weight and it’s easy to miss when you see them every day – I’ll be the first to admit that the vast majority of my past rats were overweight :oops:

Overall though, I would say if most of your rats are reaching over 2 years old, then you’re doing fairly well. And if they are living those 2 years happy and loved, then they’re very lucky rats and better off than a lot of others :D
Katie and the Kahini Rats xxx
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Re: Long Lived Ratties

Post by quinn » Sat May 28, 2011 6:12 pm

I suppose it could be possible that they're overweight - however I generally keep a close eye on their diet and have weighed them if they seemed particularly big or small to be certain whether this is the case.

Unfortunately I don't immediately recall exactly how many rats were lost to tumours and other things, but I've never lost rats due to old age, it's always been some kind of illness or something - which is probably more where I was coming from.

However, I've learned alot in the past year in regards to rat-keeping, unfortunately due to facing a PT recently and losing a pair of rescues around this time last year to unknown conditions, I've learned to be more vigilent and what to look out for.

It's just sad that learning these things usually requires a heavy price to be paid first before it truely hits home.

But I can say that all of my rats have lived long and happy lives, they've wanted for nothing and they've all been spoiled with affection, the odd treat here and there, cooked dinners - you name it they've had it. Obviously I was still very careful what to feed them, how much etc.

Now I have 3 does in a Liberta Happy Home cage... well I say 'cage' when it is infact a mansion. Easily 6ft by 3ft (maybe 4ft) and it's the largest cage I've ever owned. They have traditional Reggie Rat mix and a 'complete' food as well, so they have a choice of tastes.

They have 2 water bottles, a larger one is filtered water + Dr. Squiggles supplement, the smaller is filtered water.
They have cardboard squares bedding (dust extracted), lots of safebed nest material, they have a sea-grass tunnel to climb in, various other toys too - it's not overflowing with toys, they have lots of nibbles (blocks of wood and such).

They also come out a fair bit to free roam on the bed (I wouldn't trust them on the floor as I have electrical cabling everywhere and I'd just not want to risk their health) - they also come outside with me to walk around when it's nice.

I do more for my rats than I do for my girlfriend... maybe that's crazy? But that won't change :)
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caroline739
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Re: Long Lived Ratties

Post by caroline739 » Sat May 28, 2011 7:30 pm

It sounds like you look after your rats really well. The only thing I was wondering was that you don't mention fresh food at all - vegetables etc. Do you not give them any or did you just miss it off? From what I've read on here, that's quite an important addition to their diet :D
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quinn
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Re: Long Lived Ratties

Post by quinn » Sat May 28, 2011 8:58 pm

caroline739 wrote:It sounds like you look after your rats really well. The only thing I was wondering was that you don't mention fresh food at all - vegetables etc. Do you not give them any or did you just miss it off? From what I've read on here, that's quite an important addition to their diet :D
A bit of both there - they get fresh fruit salad now and again, but they routinely get some veg or fruit or part of whatever I'm eating that day, give or take a few exceptions.

However I'm always keen to improve their diets, are you suggesting that fresh vegetables daily is a good idea for them as well?

Is it just vegetables or fruit they should have daily? What kind of veggies - or more specifically, anything I should avoid at all costs in terms of veggies or fruit?

For fruit they regularly get banana, seedless grapes, bits of strawberries - whatever is going usually. They never get a 'whole' fruit, only pieces of it - as some fruits can contain seeds and things that are bad for them.

What about giving them various mixes - I have some Merlins' mixes here of various flavours.

If I can give them merlins and satisfy their vegetable/fruit needs then that's better for me as some-days I am stupidly busy (I'm a self-employed IT contractor) - but I don't want to forget or neglect the ratties :)
:rainbow: Psychorat, Mallow, Pest, Brownie, Sweeney, Sox, Stripe, Spot, Sparkle, Jay, Spooky, Kara, Arwen, Alice, Emily, Sarah, Sophie, Ezri, Bandit, Anubis, Flash

:girly: Sprite, Yoda, Willow, Jasmine, Isis, Sylvia, Millie, Molly, Buffy, Lily

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Re: Long Lived Ratties

Post by helenback56 » Thu Jun 23, 2011 8:47 pm

I used to own two female hooded - one agouti and white, one chocolate and white. The agouti hooded - rummy, died about 18 months from what I think was a stroke. The choclate -coco, lived fairly happily on her own for nearly another 18 months, with just a rubber toy rat and a mirror for cage company (plus lots of human love). She was either 3 or a few weeks off 3 (born in dec and died nov or dec a few years ago, so I can be precise) and died simply of old age - she gradually slowed down and it got to the point I had to feed her mushy, watery mixed cereal and waterlogged rat food biscuits as she couldn't manage solid food any more. She lasted until she physically had to be fed every few hours by hand and died happily in her sleep with me next to her.

They had a two tier cage within size reccomendations for 2 rats, occasional fruit and veg, regular rasins, the odd drop of alcohol - literally a drop, the odd chunk of cooked meat. They had wood shavings (now I know theses aren't reccomended), were got out for 1/2-1 hour each day for a run and had lots of love and cuddles. They were brought from a pet shop, but I think it had links to a local animal college, as they had proper birth certificates, were properly sexed and weren't overcrowded in their cage.

The only thing I noticed when coco got old, was when I put my finger through the bars or in the cage, she would pounce at me and grab my finger, but as soon as she realised it was me, she would let go - I imagine she was probably loosing her eyesight/hearing.

I want to get more rats soon if my landlord says yes to my request, but I don't know anywhere repuitable (ie not a generic huge petstore) that sells them. Anyone in or near Northampton got any suggestions??

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Re: Long Lived Ratties

Post by squeakrat » Sat Jun 25, 2011 11:30 am

quinn wrote:A bit of both there - they get fresh fruit salad now and again, but they routinely get some veg or fruit or part of whatever I'm eating that day, give or take a few exceptions.

However I'm always keen to improve their diets, are you suggesting that fresh vegetables daily is a good idea for them as well?

Is it just vegetables or fruit they should have daily? What kind of veggies - or more specifically, anything I should avoid at all costs in terms of veggies or fruit?

For fruit they regularly get banana, seedless grapes, bits of strawberries - whatever is going usually. They never get a 'whole' fruit, only pieces of it - as some fruits can contain seeds and things that are bad for them.

What about giving them various mixes - I have some Merlins' mixes here of various flavours.

If I can give them merlins and satisfy their vegetable/fruit needs then that's better for me as some-days I am stupidly busy (I'm a self-employed IT contractor) - but I don't want to forget or neglect the ratties :)
Giving them some fresh food most days adds variety to their diet as well as being a good source of vitamins and minerals. It sounds like you give them mainly fruit - a bit is good as a treat, but a lot of fruit is quite high in sugar. Fruit salad type fruits are also mainly water, so they won't get so much benefit from these.

Veggies (especially green leafy veg, broccoli etc) would be better for them. I used to give my rats raw veg most days (probably about 5 days out of 7), unless they were getting another type of fresh food (usually a bit of something I had cooked for myself which would include some cooked veg). It doesn't actually take much time to grab a handful of kale to give them, chop a bit of broccoli off etc. I also used to keep a bag of frozen veg in the freezer so I could defrost them a bit of that if I ran out of fresh (peas especially are very popular!)

My three girls, who were all pet shop, lived to 20 months, 33 months and 39 months. Only the one who died at the youngest age actually died naturally - so could perhaps have been said to have died of "old age". The other two were pts, but I still consider them really as having died of old age as pts was the best decision after they had deteriorated with various age-related conditions.
Jenny x
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Re: Long Lived Ratties

Post by Neotoma » Thu Jun 30, 2011 8:52 pm

Depending on how you want to cut the data, I have an average life-span of 27 - 29 months over the last few years, and tbh, I'm now disappointed if rats don't make it to 30 months, and very disappointed if they don't make 2 years. I've only had 3 make it to 3 years or over though. I think there are a few factors:

1) Luck

2) The vast majority of recent rats have been neutered males. I think neutering may well increase average lifespan - I've seen other data to bear this out, although obviously it doesn't guarantee a long life to any single rat. I've only ever had one case of kidney disease, which is in a current boy who was neutered at an older than average age.

3) Diet - my highest average (knocking 30 months) comes if you group all the rats who have been on a diet with a large and very varied proportion of fresh food.

4) Exercise - I have big cages, with lots of stuff in, and they have to climb, jump, balance etc- no ramps or ladders. They also free range in a large area, and can climb on and off furniture and so on.

5) Good vet care - treating in the right way at the right time makes a difference.

6) I don't pander to old age. Or more to the point, I don't pander to it just because it's old age. Obviously rats with special needs get them met - I make sure anyone with a wibbly hind end is safe, and if there is an old rat with having problems keeping weight on then I change the diet, and give them extra easy to process food etc. But I don't do retirement cages - if a rat has trouble climbing, I make sure it can climb safely in small increments (lots of hammocks basically) rather than taking the height away, and I keep them in mixed age groups. Net result is that whilst they eventually get health problems, I very rarely have rats who are behaviourally old - my boy who lived to 40 months was behaving like a 6 month old up till his 3rd birthday,and my current oldest lad (32 months, mild kidney disease, mild HLD, some muscle wastage, chronic myco) has just climbed from the base of their tower (Tom cage with two freddy's on top) to the top, and is now attempting to get involved in a squabble between two one year olds.

I don't think any one of that lot is a recipe for long-lived rats, and I suspect luck plays it's part (although they are all rescues, often from quite dodgy circumstances) - but in combination something there seems to be going right.
Alison and the horde of squish :smileyrat:

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Re: Long Lived Ratties

Post by annc » Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:02 pm

Most of mine have been over 27 months, with two recently just failing to reach 3. My oldest boy is 34 months. He has severe HLD but at his vet check last night Bradley said he was perky, and gave him a steroid injection.
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