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In a message dated 10/20/04 7:58:13 AM, treegoddess@... writes:

<< DH isn't sold on the pet rat idea, but I'm working on him. ;) >>

I had a rat as a kid, and Holly had wanted some because friends had them.
Her dad said "bad idea."

We babysat a hamster. He warmed up to it.

What's most inexpensive about the rats was the cost of the rats and their
food. They like what people like. What was most expensive was the cage. Holly
got an $80 bird cage and we rearrange it once a week or so using bird perches
as crosspieces to build shelves, which we can move from level to level. We
furnish it with various (and changing) hanging baskets fastened to the top or
sides, cardboard houses made from whatever boxes are around, plastic stuff
(from thrift stores, a Noah's Ark we took the door off so they can get in and
out, and they sleep on top of it too; and a Fisher Price dollhouse that already
was kind of messed up, and they sleep in there currently).

We try to give them at least four closed spaces, and each time they decide
where to store food and where to sleep. They LOVE those first moments when
they're let back in to explore.

For floors we've used shallow cardboard boxes and "in baskets," with a
placemat in the bottom, or we fasten cake-cooling wire racks on with bag ties, and
fasten placemats on at the same time. Either the rubber placemats with holes
or the woven placemats that were all the rage in the late 80's and are 25 to 50
cents each at thrift stores now.

It's true they won't live really long, though.

Our dog was from the pound and is an Australian cattle dog, blue heeler.
That's the current stray dog of note in our area. She's the smartest dog I've
ever had, and after Marty rejected the obedience classes for being too mean,
we've mostly just talked to her, encouraged good behavior in natural ways, and
discouraged bad behavior verbally and facially. She really cares what people
think about her, and she has been really helpful and cooperative. She's almost
six years old, I think. We got her in 98. Maybe she's past six.


julie w

We had two ratties at one time. Best pets I've ever had. We loved them.
So very sweet and calm.
I'd love to get more but I'm not sure how long it would be before they
were cat food.
Julie W in AR


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I have to strongly agree with the anti-bunny advice. We bought 2
mini bunnies for the kids last year. We were promised by the store
that they wouldn't get to be more than a couple of pounds. They
were so cute and cuddly for the first week or so. Within two
months, they were as large (larger?) as housecats and VERY
unfriendly. When the children did try to pat them, it was literally
a matter of holding them down while the bunnies made every possible
attempt to escape, squirming and scratching. I started to feel as
if we were essentially "torturing" them by forcing affection on
them. Definitely wasn't a pleasant experience for the kids and they
cried a lot about the bunnies hating them. And clean-up was
unreal...I cleaned out the cages everyday and there was SO much
poop, I couldn't believe it. I grew up on a farm, I'm used to
cleaning stables, but I never want to clean a bunny cage again in my
life. Maybe I got one of the "dirty" bunnies discussed earlier.
Thank g-d I had a good home to send them to.

Don't know much about rats, but I have heard very favorable reviews
from a local ultra-animal-loving unschooler about guinea pigs!


Laura Johnson

Okay, you've convinced me, no bunny. You saved me the research I was going to do. The voices of experience are not to be ignored. I had a rabbit in my classroom for a few months when I was a teacher and he was pretty cool. We let him out in the morning and he hopped around the classroom all day. He was litter box trained when I got him from a parent. I didn't have chairs in my room, only low tables and carpeting, the kids sat on the floor, and he would hop around them at their tables during the day. Unfortunately, he chewed up the computer wires, so we had to start keeping him in the cage. I do remember him being very skittish, but I thought it was because there were so many kids. The rabbit went home with different kids each weekend. We had a wonderful classroom hamster as well that the kids adored. Very tame and loved to crawl around on the kids. I had a few hamsters when I was younger they are great pets.

About the rat, I just can't get past it. We get river rats in our garage and they just creep me out. I also had one jump on me once that was in a friend's cabinet. I think we will wait on the small pets until he is a little older and can fully take care of one. We are looking at getting a puppy for the new year. After the winter holidays. That gives us time to learn how to train one and really do it right.

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If you want something small you might also try hedgehogs. They're
meant to be solitary animals so only one per cage. However they can
be super friendly if you get one that's been hand-raised from a baby.

Keep in mind they're illegal in some states so check first. Also,
they need to be held and pet everyday to maintain their friendly

Good luck!

julie w

Just a quick comment about bunnies.
I have two friends with rabbits and they are great pets. One has this
white one that is as big as a cat. It loves them, plays with their dog,
sleeps at their feet when it is out of its cage.
The other is a smaller rabbit who never messes in the house and is very
gentle and affectionate with the kids. Even the cat likes it.
I have a feeling it may depend on the breed and how much they were
handled. The 1st family also has a beautiful cinnamon colored bunny that
bites at times and only likes one of the kids, but they got this bunny
from a family that hardly ever held or let it out of its cage so it just
is not comfortable being handled. Its coming around though, they are
working with it and its come a long way in a few weeks.
Julie W in AR

Laura Johnson wrote:

> Okay, you've convinced me, no bunny.

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pam sorooshian

On Oct 20, 2004, at 3:16 PM, Laura Johnson wrote:

> About the rat, I just can't get past it.

I couldn't either. We have hamsters. We got them from Krisula (who is
on this list) and they'd been handled since they were born and they're
VERY friendly. They all but come when they're called! They sit on our
hands to eat and they're just adorable. One is long-haired and really
wild looking and the other is short-haired and trim and neat looking.

National Home Education Network
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Angela S

We've had a rabbit, a hamster, and guinea pigs. The guinea pigs win, hands
down, imo.

The hamster just plain stunk and he peed in all the tubes of his habitrail
so as cool as it looked, we couldn't use it. Plus, he slept all day and ran
all night on his wheel. He was friendly to hold and cute but the clean up
was just nasty with this one. I guess I couldn't tried different cage
options, but I didn't.

The rabbit was ok. We did handle her a lot at first but if she got scared,
those back legs would go and you'd get scratched to pieces. We kept her
nails trimmed, but she didn't like that and I got scratched often just
trying to cut them. I'd wrap her in a towel and everything but she just
seemed so nervous about it, which made me nervous. She ate wires in the
house if you let her have freedom to roam. We ended up letting her have run
of the shed for a while and she loved that. Clean up wasn't much of a
problem though. When she was in her cage in the house we just put kitty
litter in the bottom and changed it every few days. When she was in her
outside cage, it was even easier.

The guinea pigs are the easiest by far and the friendliest. We are down to
one now, but we had two. We keep them in one of those really huge rubber
maid tubs. It's probably 3-4 feet long and 2 feet wide. I tried many
different kind of beddings and found shredded paper to work the best. We
keep shredded paper in the bottom, a couple inches deep. The one we have
left pees and poops in two different corners most of the time and I just
reach in with a rubber glove every morning when I bring her treats and take
out the soiled handful of paper and replace it with fresh paper. She isn't
very smelly, not like the hamster was. (but I think males can be
smellier)(Rabbit pee was thick and nasty compared to guinea pig pee and the
hamster urine just seemed so strong smelling to me.) She is calm when I cut
her nails and she loves to run around the family room in the basement. She
doesn't usually soil on the floor when she is out, but if she does, it isn't
a big deal. The carpet is short industrial carpet and we just soak it up
with paper towels. She's only peed on it maybe twice. It is really fun to
watch them run around when there are two of them because they follow each
other like a train. They love treats and will take them from your hand.
They are social animals and it is recommended that you get two so they have

Of course, everyone has a different experience with different pets, but
that's ours.

Angela ~ Maine


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Dawn Adams

Laura writes:
>About the rat, I just can't get past it. We get river rats in our garage and they just creep me out. I also had one >jump on me once that was in a friend's cabinet. I think we will wait on the small pets until he is a little older >and can fully take care of one. We are looking at getting a puppy for the new year. After the winter holidays. >That gives us time to learn how to train one and really do it right.

We have brown rats that move into the basement every fall (for the past couple of years. We live just up from some certified rat burrows by a little pond and come fall they like to find warmer homes. It's been a problem for us and a few neighbours. Thankfully (for my sanity) this year we dug out, plastered, damp proofed, drained and insulated (outside) our basement so there's nowhere for them to get in. Or so we thought. My husband forgot to put in a doorjamb under the basement door so again, we had our visitors. But we trapped one and it may have been all there was. We're tearing down all the old gyproc and studs to clean out the basement and be rid of the rats once and for all. Hopefully the shrews, white footed mice, field mice and deer mice that we've also found in the house at times will go as well.
It's been interesting. I've been so paranoid at times that every unexplained noise was a rat but I've also marveled at the ones we caught which were never as big as everyone assured me they would be (rats grow in size in peoples head I think) and always glossy and clean and cute. Snap traps work well with them. Glue traps led to one gruesome death involving my DH and a hammer so he's vowed never to use them again. I'm to afraid of our cat or kids getting into poison to use it. A neighbour almost lost their dog that way.

And can you believe it...I've heard so many good things about domestic rats that I'd LOVE to have one. :)

Dawn (in NS)

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