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PitRottMommy, Veterinary Nurse
Category: Pet
Satisfied Customers: 8275
Experience:  15 yrs experience in vet med, 8 in emergency med. Founder of a non-profit animal rescue
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I adopted a very female rat from someone who was giving them

Customer Question

I adopted a very young female rat from someone who was giving them away on Craigslist 2 weeks ago, not realizing she was pregnant. I put her in with my 2 year old female. She gave birth to 5 pups 3 days ago but seems disinterested in them. She nurses them occasionally however my older female is spending most of the time with them and they are in fact suckling the older female constantly. I am concerned they are not getting adequate feeding or care.
Is it possible for the nonpregnant 2 year old female to lactate? Should I be doing anything else?
Submitted: 11 months ago.
Category: Pet
Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 11 months ago.

Hello, JACustomer. I have been a Veterinary Nurse for over 15 years and would be happy to help you today. I'm reviewing your question right now.

Expert:  PitRottMommy replied 11 months ago.

Dawn, the non-pregnant female can certainly be induced to lactate but it would be best to assume that this is not the case unless you see evidence that she is lactating. You can pick her up under her arms to expose her abdomen and gently apply pressure in a pinching motion to one of her nipples. Milk should be produced if she is lactating.

Ideally, the female that has the young should be moved to a cage away from the female that did not produce the young. At 3 days following delivery, if the babies have not begun to pass away chances are they're getting the right amount of care and nutrition needed for them. The mother does not need to nurse them constantly for them to be well-maintained in most cases.

It's not ideal to have young raised in a communal situation, but that may be what is required as the non-pregnant female is obviously attempting to care for the young and she's already lactating. That said, privacy for mom and her young should be attempted to see if this changes her response. The stress of a new female in the area may be causing her to act differently toward her young. It's been my experience that rats make excellent mothers.

If it comes to pass that the mother is disinterested in her young despite being given access to a new cage (I like a 10 gallon aquarium with wire topper, along with care fresh bedding and some strips of fabric to keep the young in the nest), you may certainly place everyone back in with the non pregnant female and see if communal raising works better for this situation. Your biggest determinant on whether or not the young are being appropriately cared for will boil down to whether or not they are thriving with the care the female(s) are giving. Again, the babies all surviving at 3 days post-delivery is a good sign.

I’ll be standing by if you have other questions. Let me know if I can help further.

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