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10 Tips for Taking Care of a Rat

10 Tips for Taking Care of a Rat 1

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What You Need to Know Before Adopting a Rat

Pet rats can become very friendly and enjoy interacting with their owners. They love cuddling with their owners and have an incredible ability to learn. Rats are fascinating animals that can be kept as pets, even for working individuals and older children. These adorable rodents are relatively easy to take care of, although the necessary commitment should not be underestimated.

Summary

  1. What You Need to Know Before Adopting a Rat
  2. Purchasing
  3. Living Together: How Many Rats Should Cohabit?
  4. Rat Cage and Basic Equipment
  5. Letting Your Rat Out of the Cage
  6. Activities: Keeping a Rat Occupied Requires a Lot of Effort
  7. Interaction between Rat and Owner
  8. Nutrition
  9. Health
  10. Reproduction: Not to be Taken Lightly
  11. Conclusion: Are Rats a Good Alternative to Guinea Pigs?

10 Tips for Taking Care of a Rat

1. What You Need to Know Before Adopting a Rat

Rats are intelligent and social animals. Observing them, playing with them, and teaching them tricks can bring you a lot of joy if you love animals. Since rodents are particularly active in the late afternoon, evening, and early morning, they are perfect pets for people who work.

Are Rats Suitable for Children?

Older children can also take responsibility for a group of rats and care for these animals with the supervision of their parents. However, it is important to keep in mind that rats have an average lifespan of only about two years, and the death of the pet can be painful for children (and not just for them).

2. Purchasing

Domestic rats, which can be kept as pets, are descendants of the brown rat. Their fur can come in different colors (including black, brown, cream, and white with spots). Albino rats, meaning white rats with red eyes, are also quite common.

Rats in Animal Shelters

If you want to adopt one or more rats, you can contact an animal shelter. Many domestic rats are waiting for new owners in rodent shelters run by animal protection organizations. For a small symbolic fee, you can take home your new pet.

3. Living Together: How Many Rats Should Cohabit?

Rats are social animals, so it is important never to leave them alone in their cage. To ensure they live a fulfilling life, they should be kept in groups of at least two. Ideally, you should have between three and six rats.

To prevent your rats from reproducing, it is best to house animals of the same sex, with females being known to be easier to get along with than males. Neutered females and neutered males can also cohabit. If you want to expand your group of rats, it is recommended to introduce a young rat to a group of adult rats.

Your rat cage should have multiple levels to provide enough space for climbing and playing.

4. Rat Cage and Basic Equipment

How much space does a rat need? Some animal protection organizations recommend a spacious cage measuring 100 x 50 x 120 centimeters for a group of two to six rats. The cage should have multiple levels that these agile animals can reach using ladders or branches.

How to Set Up Your Rat Cage?

The floor should be covered with soft, dust-free wood shavings. Additionally, these very clean rodents need a litter box filled with cat litter or chinchilla sand. A house filled with untreated hay or straw, as well as numerous accessories for hiding and playing, such as cardboard tubes, contribute to creating a perfect environment.

10 Tips for Taking Care of a Rat

5. Letting Your Rat Out of the Cage

Regardless of the cage size and variety of accessories, it is mandatory to let your rat out of the cage every day. These curious and highly active animals need the opportunity to explore a secure room for several hours a day under your supervision. You must remove all electrical wires, books, potentially toxic plants, and anything your pets should not chew on while they are free-roaming.

6. Activities: Keeping a Rat Occupied Requires a Lot of Effort

If you have pet rats, it is important to play with them. Whether they are in their cage or out of it, they need a certain level of diversity to be intellectually and physically stimulated.

How to Entertain a Rat?

Your rat can explore the inside of a plain cardboard box filled with crumpled paper, for example. Cardboard or old books can be used to build mazes where small treats like cucumber pieces can be hidden for the rodents to find. With a little patience and treats as rewards, rats can even learn tricks.

7. Interaction between Rat and Owner

Unlike many other rodents, rats often become very familiar with their owners, especially if they have been regularly in contact with humans from a young age. The more you interact with them, the more they become docile and affectionate. Many rats enjoy climbing onto their owner’s shoulder and establishing close physical contact.

Tip: If you want to pick up a rat, you should gently place one hand under its belly and the other on its back to protect it. Rats do not like being grabbed by the tail, as it is a very sensitive part of their body.

8. Nutrition

Rats are considered omnivores, but they eat more plant-based foods than animal-based ones. They enjoy oat flakes and special cereal mixes, as well as fresh vegetables like cucumber, lettuce, and carrot. Fruits, except for citrus fruits, are also part of their diet.

Rats consume animal protein in the form of boiled eggs, cottage cheese, yogurt, or mealworms. Nuts, crackers, and Swedish crispbread can be given as treats between meals.

9. Health

If rats are kept in an environment that meets their needs, they generally do not become ill very often. Dull fur, crusty eyes, and blocked nostrils indicate a problem. Audible breathing, loss of appetite, and lethargy are also signs that a rat is sick.

In such cases, you should immediately consult a veterinarian, preferably one specializing in rodents. Respiratory infections and tumors are typical diseases found in rats.

10 Tips for Taking Care of a Rat

10. Reproduction: Not to be Taken Lightly

Rats are animals that reproduce very easily. Females can become pregnant as early as five to six weeks old. They give birth to an average of ten offspring per litter and are capable of reproducing immediately after giving birth. Thus, a female rat can have an average of four litters, totaling forty babies per year.

To prevent being overwhelmed by too many rats, you must pay attention to the gender of the animals you adopt. Furthermore, it is best to leave rat breeding to professional breeders.

11. Conclusion: Are Rats a Good Alternative to Guinea Pigs?

Domestic rats are often better pets for children (and not just for them) than, for example, guinea pigs or rabbits. Unlike these fearful animals, domestic rats generally do not mind being touched or petted. On the contrary, they enjoy the company of their owners and are delighted to spend long moments snuggling against them.

mahatma gandhi portrait

- Mahatma Gandhi

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.”

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