Lifespan – 1-2+ Years
Rats can live in same-sex pairs and must not live alone as they are extremely social.
Rats are mostly nocturnal, but they can adjust to your schedule.
To be ready for Rats you will need
Mazuri rat blocks, teklad or oxbow rat blocks
Glass Water Bottle – Rats can chew up the plastic bottles.
Hides, Hammocks & Toys – there are Etsy stores with a lot of safe options, including ours!
Chews – wooden chews to help wear down their teeth
Bedding – Aspen, Hemp, paper-based, or shredded paper
Hard-sided Travel Carrier
Small shop vac for cleaning up after your Rats -optional but useful
*Please understand that some items will need to be replenished monthly.
Rats are inquisitive and curious, which means they become bored easily. Providing a large cage in addition to a lot of enrichment is absolutely essential to keep your rat happy. Cages with a solid bottom instead of wire are safer for ratty feet. The very minimum cage standards calculator can be found here.
We recommend Critter Nation (1/2” bar spacing) or Ferret Nation cages (1” bar spacing). Please note that younger smaller rats can squeeze out of the Ferret Nation.Cages made of 1″ x ½” mesh are dangerous because rats can get a back foot stuck in the mesh resulting in a wrenched or broken leg. Because rats climb, the sides, as well as elevated floors and ramps, are dangerous. For babies, cages should be made of ½” square mesh or bars ½” or less apart. For adult rats, cages can be made of 1” x 1” square mesh.
Feeding – Most food bought at pet stores is not suitable for rats because they contain corn, seed mixes that are too fatty, and alfalfa pellets that they can’t digest. Your rats should get fresh foods in addition to a pellet/block diet. Safe fruit/veggies list here. A harmful food list can be found here.
Chews – rat’s teeth grow throughout their lives and should be an orangey color (this means they are healthy) so having access to chews and other toys will help them keep their teeth properly worn.
Bedding – Paper-based bedding, aspen, hemp or shredded paper will help soak up urine and can assist in litter training your rats. Bedding containing pine (non- kiln dried) and cedar are not recommended as they can cause respiratory inflammation.
You should spot-clean the cage every day. Dirty bedding, rotten food, feces, and urine should be removed daily. Rats need an environment that is as clean as possible to prevent respiratory disease and other illnesses.
You will need to keep in mind that rats will need regular vet visits just like any other pet. Rats are very prone to respiratory disease and tumors. We recommend that you have a savings account for vet emergencies or set up a Care Credit account that will allow you to pay for the bill in increments over a year. We also highly recommend you get your rats spayed/ neutered. Female rats have a very high chance of uterine cancer/prolapse and males are less likely to become aggressive due to hormones. Rats have extremely sensitive respiratory systems. For this reason, air fresheners, candles, and wax melts should not be used.
Your rats will need a carrier for trips to the veterinarian and when they come home with you. Moves can be stressful so include some bedding or a hammock for them to hide in and keep comfortable. If traveling further a larger carrier may be needed so that your rats have access to food and water.
It is important to build trust with your rats by letting them smell your hand, offering treats, and talking to them. Playpens are great for socializing and mental stimulation out of the cage. They also allow you to have the rats closer to the ground so there is no risk of them being dropped or jumping out of your hands. A fall from your hands can mean broken bones and internal injuries.
How to pick up your rat
It is best not to pick them up until they are comfortable with you touching them. You can do so by cupping your hands underneath them or letting them crawl onto your hand. Do not pick them up from above. Doing so may frighten them as they are prey species. Try speaking to them before you pick them up so they know you are there.
Holding your rat
Holding your rat is best done held close to your body without squeezing. Please be sure you are sitting on the ground when holding them to prevent accidental falls. After a while, you may find your rat likes hiding in your clothing such as your hoodie.
Out of Cage Time
Playpens are great for socializing and mental stimulation out of the cage. They also allow you to have the rats closer to the ground so there is no risk of them being dropped or jumping out of your hands. A fall from your hands can mean broken bones and internal injuries.
We DO NOT recommend the following:
Small Enclosures, or aquariums
Plastic (hamster type) exercise balls aka death balls.
Inappropriately sized wheels (under 16”), or wheels made of barred, mesh, or wire wheels
Poor Quality Foods that contain corn, seed mixes that are too fatty, and alfalfa pellets that they can’t digest.
Cedar, Softwood, unknown woods.
Cotton or fibrous bedding
Snak Shaks or logs
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