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Natal Rats or Soft-Furred Rats
"Where is the seeds in dis thing?"
This is Pocket Badger, he is cute as a button but he would like nothing more than to have a piece of you! African Soft Furred Rats or Natal Rats are from Africa. African soft-furred rats are small exotic rodents and the possible evolutionary link between mice and rats, possessing characteristics of each. They are perhaps the most common rodent in Africa and can be found there in small to extremely large groups throughout most of the continent. There are many species known that are closely related to Praomys natalensis, the Natal Rat. Firstly there are several species in the genus Praomys, and then there even more different species in the closely related genus Mastomys. Most of these are closely related to the Natal Rat and might be impossible to distinguish just by looking ever so closely at them. A general difference is that Mastomys often have shorter tails than Praomys. A better way to distinguish between Mastomys and Praomys is to study the cranial bones. It should first be noted that these rodents have not been bred for temperament in the USA and they are aggressive. My male is very territorial . Their common African name (natal multimammate mouse) literally means many-breasted mouse, so-named because the females possess extra teats, (8-14 pairs rather than the usual 5 or 6 pairs that other rodents have). African soft-furred rats are fairly crepuscular and generally active at random intervals throughout the day and night. They are omnivores, eating mostly seeds but also requiring fruits, vegetables and animal protein to maintain a healthy diet. My little Natal Ratty almost put me in the hospital. He chewed me up pretty bad when I tried to hold onto him to protect him from getting loose and being stalked by my cat. Retraining a Natal Rat is never wise!. I ended up with a severely infected finger and hand with red streaks running up to my elbow! Their bites are tiny and close right away. Pockety bit me about six times because he wanted me to drop him. I do not recommend these as pets for anyone especially children. I named him Pocket Badger because he is so fierce. I do love this little chub but I don't think I will be getting any more of these any time soon. The main reason pet stores carry them is for feeders for Ball Pythons. They are smaller than a fancy rat but not as small as a mouse. They are excellent climbers and also very good chewers. They will get out of allot of plastic based cages and mine almost gnawed out of the little cardboard box the pet store gave me when I bought Pocket Badger.
"I am ratty hear me roar!"
Natal rats should only be caught in cupped hands. If you grab a natal rat you will probably get bitten, they don't like being held. In contrast to this usually natal rats are not afraid of hands inside the cage and willingly let themselves be petted - inside the cage! As long you don't try to catch them they generally don't bite. If you lift them out of the cage they usually try to escape. Natal Rats do not all have the white markings , sometimes they have white that its more random than Pockety's white markings sometimes they are a solid color. . I am not sure what the wild ones have for markings if any. See Eva's Natal Rat Pages for some of the colors they have developed in Europe. I am fond of my wee monster and would never dream of making him snake food, dispite his short comings. He will let me stroke him but will not tolerate being picked up or held. He has bitten me many times. Usually its just a pin prick. He does like to play with me and loves to chase a feather or play little games with household objects, however he will strike like a snake and put a stitch in your finger through the bars if you forget for one minute who you are dealing with. I put up this webpage for two reasons. Because these are interesting animals and because children need to be warned these are not anything like a hamster! If you know what you are buying you may be very happy having a Natal Rat for a pet. It's hard for me since I am used to the wonderful tame Fancy Rat. My pet store had just gotten these in for the first time and did not warn me the little devils bite like crazy. It is my understanding that in some European countries they have had some success selecting for better dispositions but so far not in the USA. At some point these may become desirable pets but for now I would not bring one of these fireballs home unless you are looking for a challenge. I have kept Fancy rats for 10 years and these are not social with humans the way they are at all. African Soft Furred Rats are prolific breeders and are not legal in some states including California. Be careful before you start breeding these even for snake food, you will have allot of them in a short period of time.
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