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Advice wanted! Enrichment feeding ideas for mostly soft diet

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 6:03 pm
by Philosophyfox
I have two 10 month old un-neutered bucks and two 3 month old un-neutered bucks. They have been living together for a couple of weeks now, all fine and dandy.

F.A.B - one of the newbie rats, has silly teeth, growing at random angles, far too long and generally rubbish (he has them trimmed once a fortnight currently). So he needs to have soft foods. He's also a runt and so needs plenty of grub in him, as he is only 230 grams.

I am currently feeding the whole cage their dried mix (currently a rat rations complete mix) soaked until soft enough for F.A.B to eat. Sometimes there might be a little extra in there, like cous cous or meaty stuff.

At first feeding them all from a bowl was helpful - they were going through intros and it made them eat together and learn to share (a bit in Dill's case). However, this is an incredibly boring way to feed, and Dill, one of the older lads is getting rather porky (bingo wings and pear shaped). So I really want to challenge them, but I also don't want to risk F.A.B loosing condition either.

I've only really scatter fed leafy veg and dried mix previously, and I have no idea how to make their main meals appealing and challenging. The babies don't like to eat outside the main cage, and I don't always have time to take the big lads out while the babies are eating.

So I wondered, (if any of you made it this far through my ramble) if anyone has some ideas about making food interesting. F.A.B is interested in food - he is currently battling a hanging stick treat (Twerp has realised if he sits below he gets the bits that break off), but he can't really eat very much hard foods at all. Unless it's yoggies. It may take a while but yoggies are necessary...

Thank you for reading this :dumbo:

Re: Advice wanted! Enrichment feeding ideas for mostly soft

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 6:54 pm
by amy104
What about some kind of enrichment feeder or something you can smear the wet meals on so they have to work to get it out. The living world one I have is plastic so easy enough to clean?

Coop cups in odd places so they have to climb and balance to get at the food instead of floor level?

Re: Advice wanted! Enrichment feeding ideas for mostly soft

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:22 pm
by Philosophyfox
Cheers! :D

I'm currently looking at enrichment stuff (supposed to be working!) online and adding a few things to wish lists for comparisons and stuff.

I did think about multiple bowls, I could maybe cover them with hay or tissue bedding or some such. Their current cage isn't great, so I am considering replacing with this:
http://www.cagesworld.co.uk/p/Liberta_R ... _House.htm

And as a bonus has lots of food bowls with access doors :D (But I do need to get some pennies and make sure they are happy in a bigger cage - silly rats).

Not sure if something like this would help:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Hide-%60n%60-Tr ... enrichment

I don't have a huge budget, but obviously if it improves the mental (and physical) well being of the lads then I am all for it!

Re: Advice wanted! Enrichment feeding ideas for mostly soft

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:28 pm
by Anne
Hey
Of no help of course to say when I was in this position I fed like you are doing. But random placed cups does sound good.
Just wanted to say I'm glad it's all working out for you all x

Re: Advice wanted! Enrichment feeding ideas for mostly soft

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:34 pm
by Philosophyfox
Thank you so much Anne :hearts:

F.A.B is coping really well with the vet trips and the vet said he was 'as good as gold' on Tuesday when he last had them done. I am hoping the trudle to the vets once a fortnight doesn't stress him out, but he has so much energy and character and he's straight over to strangers that I think he finds it all a bit of an adventure (the rat who goes with him doesn't see it that way at all!!!)

I am so, so, so pleased he is coping. I have fallen in love with him so much and he's (along with his bro) really helped bring the big lads out of themselves. The fact that he is interested in working for food that he won't get much reward out of is helping reassure me he may be a lot better with enrichment and problem solving feeding than I am currently giving him credit for.

Re: Advice wanted! Enrichment feeding ideas for mostly soft

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 7:40 pm
by Jemma
Id get some of those plastic eggs that split in half and hide some in the. Maybe some shells too if you make it up sticky. Then you can scatter and hide them. i also like to put some wet food inside card boxes like egg boxes and either hanging them or tieing then closed tightly do they have to gnaw there way in.

Re: Advice wanted! Enrichment feeding ideas for mostly soft

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 8:03 pm
by Philosophyfox
Thanks Jemma! I definitely think that the stinky, much loved stuff like meat can go in something like those plastic eggs. Masking tape is ok to make standard boxes like tea bag boxes more difficult to get in, isn't it?

I'm so used to making things almost cruelly evil to get into for my rats a few years ago, that I find it hard to work out a balance for this lot, who are pretty much spoon fed!

Re: Advice wanted! Enrichment feeding ideas for mostly soft

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 8:09 pm
by Anne
F.A.B. Sounds wonderful. What a great little character. I'm so very pleased to hear he's getting along great with the vet visits. Good on you too x

Re: Advice wanted! Enrichment feeding ideas for mostly soft

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 8:19 pm
by Philosophyfox
Thank you! FAB has just been so awesome - the vet and the receptionist I spoke to think he is FABULOUS!
I guess all I can really do is improve the cage layout, try a more challenging feeding routine and monitor the weight of him and Dill. I just worry. I am paranoid FAB starves to death and paranoid Dill explodes from fatness!!!

A sneaky photo from the other day of FAB and Dill:
Image

Re: Advice wanted! Enrichment feeding ideas for mostly soft

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 8:41 pm
by Anne
So sweet :)

I look forward to future updates

Re: Advice wanted! Enrichment feeding ideas for mostly soft

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 9:06 pm
by Jemma
masking tape is fine. i also like string to. You can always add a few holes at first to get them started and i find egg boxes are good as the card is so soft

Re: Advice wanted! Enrichment feeding ideas for mostly soft

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 9:11 pm
by Philosophyfox
I have lots of string and my neighbours have plenty of egg boxes, I am sure - if I ask nicely :D

I guess I need to get over the worry I have of making everything too difficult. I may joke that they are, but they really aren't stupid.

Re: Advice wanted! Enrichment feeding ideas for mostly soft

Posted: Thu Feb 12, 2015 9:26 pm
by Jemma
If they don't find food for a day then it counts as a starve day which we know if good for them anyway. so maybe try one day a week at first. That way you can build your confidence up without worrying they are starving.

Re: Advice wanted! Enrichment feeding ideas for mostly soft

Posted: Fri Feb 13, 2015 9:56 am
by Philosophyfox
Thank you. Last night I fed 1/3 of their mix in a bowl, and I made those balls from loo roll tubes and split the remaining mix between those. Dill destroyed one of the balls and ate from it and FAB managed to chomp down nearly the whole bowl as everyone went to bed early. I don't think he'll let me starve him! :lol: I'll just keep an eye on them as I increase the challenge level of their feeding regime. I am happy with the weights of Squirt and Twerp - so it's just fatty and skinny to sort out...

Re: Advice wanted! Enrichment feeding ideas for mostly soft

Posted: Fri Feb 13, 2015 11:09 am
by starstar
Empty coconut shells make good bowl type feeding places for wet foods, pringle tubes also take wet stuff a couple of times.