Our ratkids were born in the fall of 2012, so they are entering their dotage at roughly two and a half years old. There are a few things we’re doing to make this time easier for our critters, who are beginning to suffer from old age, weakness, and other maladies.
Because our kids tend to be on the underweight side, our vet suggested that we give them oatmeal with fruit and cream of wheat (made with milk or cream) with berries on alternating days. This is an additive to their normal diet of lab blocks and vegetables (which they are still getting), and should not be given to young healthy rats as it is deliberately fattening.
We also have changed the way we set up the cage every week. Levels have been lowered and additional ladders have been added, and we have adjusted all hammocks to be lower. Balance and strength are compromised as a rat gets older, as with most creatures (humans included), so these adjustments will not only make getting around easier, but will also help prevent falls from any great height.
Because sometimes mobility can become a serious issue, we leave both food and water (in reasonable quantities) on every level, just in case someone gets stuck or too nervous to try going up or down a level.