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|Christine, it'll be a pea party, not a tea party My rats aren't politically active
Sally, most rats won't actually pee outside the cage unless they're out too long to hold it. They do scent mark, though, leaving tiny droplets to mark territory. These boys are neutered so they don't mark at all, but it's something I've gotten used to as a rat owner. I have a couple of hoodies that I only wear for rat time so that I don't get spots on my regular clothes. It's also good to have protection against their sharp little nails, and they love the big pocket and hood, which I call their mobile hammocks.
Renee, their lifespans are indeed too short. Four years is very unusual, most domestic rats live 2 - 3 years, and in the wild they average about six months. I mourn every one's passing, but I also know how many are in the shelters around here, so I see that as them making room for me to help another rat. I have enough cage space in my house for about 30 rats, but I prefer to keep about half a dozen so that I can lavish them all with attention.
Your Cocoa sounds like he was a total sweetheart I've never taught my rats their names, but they all learn to come when I "call" them by shaking the treat jar When I let them out to play, that's the easiest way to get them back in the cage - just shake the jar and watch them all come running.