Owning rats, or as some say, being owned by rats, is a journey. For me it began with being intensely rat-phobic to where I am now, rat-obsessed (ok, i admit it).

 




Boys vs. Girls


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Well, my self-imposed weekly publishing schedule was derailed by an uncooperative router that shut my internet down for a couple of weeks. But for those of you who keep track of such things, I am back to publishing every weekend.

I heard a lot of things about boy rats versus girl rats when I was trying to decide which sex to get. Now that I have both I would like to weigh in with my observations. The truth is that rat's are VERY individual and cannot be generalized about with much accuracy, but I have noticed a few gender differences that seem to be true.

Smell:
Boy rats are definitely stinkier. My girls frequently smell like grape soda (this is one of the world's greatest mysteries since they pee on each other and then snuggle up in their hammock together...somehow they have perfected some alchemy that turns pee into a delightful, sweet and delicate odor...amazing!). The boys have the stinkiest poop and the strongest pee I have ever smelled and they always seem to smell slightly like pee. I can clean their cage and an hour later it reeks. One thing that has helped with this is changing to walnut shell litter for their litter box. They are good about using the litter box and the walnut shells coat the raisins and seem to provide a smell barrier. I made a little scoop so that they can be sifted out and tossed daily.

Cuddliness
Although people frequently say that boys are more cuddly I have found both to be equally cuddly and endearing. They do have different styles though. In general, girls have kind of a "hit and run" snuggling. The run around like crazy, exploring everything and come back to kiss and groom you and to be petted. At some point if you have them out long enough or if they are older they will curl up and hang out with you in your shirt or on your shoulder. Some of my girl rats just liked to be close and would perch near your leg or shoulder. The randomness of the affection makes it particular endearing when a girl rattie searches you out for love.

Boys love to be petted and smooched on and will let you mess with them a lot more, tickling their bellies, holding them up in the air, kissing their heads and still come back for more. My boys are still young so they haven't gotten to the couch-potato stage yet, but I can't wait! What could be more fun that curling up with a squishy boy in front of the tube and watching CSI or 24 together?! When my boys wind down, they will often lie down on the pillow near my head and brux at me. I am in heaven, there is nothing like it in the world.

Health
Girl rats get mammary tumors. And they get them often. And it is expensive to have them removed, but must be done or they will have the life sucked out of them. This sucks. The only way to prevent it is to have your female rat spayed before 6 months of age. Choosing a rat from a breeder who has lines with a low incidence of mammary tumors also helps. Bill P., from the ratlist, has mentioned a study that shows that pregnant rat mommies who are given Omega 3's and on a low-fat diet produce babies with a lower incidence of tumors. Hopefully more breeders will experiment with these findings.

My boys aren't really old enough to have health problems yet but I know from reading that they will be more prone to hind-leg paralysis, kidney disease and penis plugs (!). I have to say this last one is not one I'm looking forward to.

Aggression
Although people report that boys usually have more aggression problems than girls, this has not been my experience. My two most aggressive rats have been girls. None of my rats have been aggressive toward people, (although Bon would not tolerate much nonsense and would give a warning nip from time to time, but never hard enough to break the skin) but could not get along with most of their cagemates.

Bon-Bon exploring


Conclusion
I have to have both. I love the spunk and curious energy of girl rats and I love the sweet playfulness of boy rats. I am also realizing the wonderfulness of having rats of all ages. Each stage has its own unique and special qualities.

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2 Responses to “Boys vs. Girls”

  1. Blogger ass2006 

    Hi, a nice blog you have here. You will surely get an bookmark :) xaNax

  2. Blogger eileen2000 

    thanks, xaNax! I'm glad you enjoyed it. eileen

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