Dumbo rats are absolutely gorgeous, good choice!
Males are more cuddly whilst females are little pocket rockets. I have four males (two 10.5 month olds, Jekyll and Hyde, and two nearly-6-week olds, Richelieu and D'Artagnan). I only got Rich and D'Art a few days ago but they are already snuggling in with the big boys, who, apart from a few mad romps of sniffing and wrestling, have accepted them like little brothers. The two littlies adore the big fatties and won't leave them alone. It's is so cute!
Males do get a lot bigger than females (mine are nearly twice the size of most girls, and Hyde is as fat as a walrus). Males also have enormous testicles that most people find unnattractive, but they usually don't flaunt them :P. They also dribble urine occasionally, but hey, it's a sign that they think you are theirs! :) Males also have coarser fur than females and a different scent - muskier and thicker - that I absolutely love. There is nothing lovelier than pressing a big squishy rat boy up against your face and cuddling them tight.
Í wouldn't neuter your rats unless they have serious agression problems, which some rats do sadly get. However, most won't develop that.
Jekyll and Hyde have never fought each other. I suspect they are brothers, though they could be cousins. I got them from the RSPCA when they were 3 months old, where they had been well-handled by all the staff and were very used to people. They are sweet, fat squishes who live for treats and cuddles. Rich and D'Art wrestle constantly, but only out of youthful boisterousness. I got them from a breeder, so again, they were well-handled. I'd always advocate rescuing or buying from a breeder over a pet shop.
Rats from a breeder are likely to be very well-behaved and should be fine around your daughter. However, she might find it difficult to hold the babies til they are a bit bigger - young ones, no matter what gender, are tiny cute bundles of crazy energy and are quite hard to hold. I've never had problems with biting except where an over-excited rat missed the food and grabbed my finger, but it's never been painful.
I feed mine two meals per day with a dry mix to last them between meals. They are supposed to be on a diet, but I can't help giving them treats. They look at you so eagerly...
Look at www.dapper.com.au for some great information, including diet.
Again, I would try to find a breeder before you go to a petshop. Petshops don't generally care about the health of the mother, not giving her a break between litters, and tend to seperate the babies from the mother too young. The local shop here was selling babies from four and a bit weeks old. They really shouldn't be away from their mother til at least five weeks. Mine were five and a half. There's also a chance that any shop-bought girls will be pregnant from their brothers, as the shops usually don't seperate the sexes until too late. They are also ignorant of the care requirements and don't handle them enough to give them a really good temperament.
If you do buy them from a petshop, look for rats that want to be with you, are bright eyed and healthy, happy with their litter mates and aren't constantly trying to escape your hold and get back to the cage.
Notwithstanding my advice, you can find some beautiful loving companions in petshops as long as you are willing to put in the time and effort, which, from the depth of your research, it sounds like you are. PM me for any advice or info, I'm always happy to help other rat lovers! :)
· 8 years ago