A Complete Guide to Caring For Rats

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Rats love to climb and will appreciate separate areas for feeding, sleeping, and exercise. Cages specially designed for rats will usually be of plastic and wire and maybe on two or more levels. Most importantly they must be escape-proof. Rats will enjoy a varied environment with branches, tunnels, and ropes. A dust-free cardboard based product makes an ideal floor covering.


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Your rat will also appreciate a choice of sleeping places, such as hammocks, baskets and nest boxes. Rats are clean in their habits but will need their bedding changed and their cage cleaned with a pet-safe disinfectant at least once a fortnight. You can also train your rats to use a litter tray.

Litter should be paper-based. You should avoid putting the cage in draughts, direct sunlight or in damp or humid conditions. Rats are inquisitive and active therefore they should be provided with as much stimulation as possible. A solid exercise wheel and a selection of toys to avoid boredom should be provided. Rats are omnivores and so will enjoy a varied diet. A complete rat mix, available from most pet shops, should be the basis of their diet. Dry mix should be supplemented with small amounts of vegetables, such as kale and broccoli, and the occasional boiled egg.

Uneaten fresh food should be removed regularly. Food bowls should be sturdy, gnaw-proof and easily disinfected. Fresh drinking water should always be available for your rats. Handling your rats often will help them build up a relationship with you.

Pet Rat Care

When you first take your pet rats home, allow them 24 hours to get used to their new environment, then allow them to sniff your hands before handling them. This will get them used to your smell. Stroke your rat and be sure he is facing you, then cup both hands around him and pick him up. Never pick your rats up by their tail. Always supervise your rat during free range time. It is best to keep a pair of same-sex rats as they reproduce quickly. Unlike other species of rodents, male rats don't tend to be aggressive towards each other and can be safely kept in the safe habitat unless there are females around.

As much as possible! Rats are incredibly social creatures and love to spend time with their humans as well as each other.

Rat Care: The Complete Guide to Caring for and Keeping Rats as Pets

They are active and love to play a variety of games, and many like to snuggle and spend time relaxing on the couch. You should spend at a minimum at least one hour a day in physical contact with your pet rat, and more if you have only one. Rats are intelligent, social creatures, and keeping them entertained is one of the most important parts of taking care of your rat.

Rats love to play, both with each other and their human. Some of the games rats like to play with their humans are very physical, so make sure that he feels safe and secure in his new home so you don't scare him. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional.

Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

Tips on caring for your pet rat

Why does my younger rat bite and pull on my older rat? I've had to separate them, but I got the younger rat for company for my older rat. If they're both the same gender and you've had the older rat longer, they may be establishing a hierarchy. The younger rat, especially if he is a male, is probably trying to assert dominance. It is best to get rats of the same age at the same time to avoid this problem.

How To Take Care Of Pet Rats For Beginners

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A good rule of thumb is two cubic feet for every rat. While they are very small creatures, they have active minds and bodies and will begin to feel isolated if kept in too small of a cage. In order to prevent bumblefoot and make your rat feel more secure, choose solid flooring for your cage.

This can be thin wooden boards, plastic, or even cardboard—the important thing is that there is something between your rat's delicate feet and their wire cage. Even if your cage has a solid floor, it is still important to line it with bedding. Cloth is a common and inexpensive option but can require frequent maintenance to wash and keep clean.

Newspaper is another viable option. Avoid pine and cedar chips for your rat's bedding, as these have been known to cause respiratory issues. There are many bedding options for the cage or habitat of your pet rat.


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I would consider this the best option, both for the health of your rat and your wallet. A soft, absorbent towel folded neatly in the bottom of the cage can suffice. You rarely have to buy new towels in your rat's cage, but you should change and wash their bedding at least once a week, and two to three times a week if your rat is not toilet-trained. It is also important to make sure there are no loose threads to make sure they don't get tangled up in their feet. If you choose to use towel or cloth bedding, be sure to use a gentle, unscented detergent to prevent respiratory issues.

Shredded paper. This is also a relatively inexpensive option. Shredded paper creates little dust, which keeps their delicate respiratory systems safe.

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How to Take Care of a Pet Rat: FAQs, Tips and Tricks | PetHelpful

It's also easy to make. Phonebook pages, newspaper, and discarded office documents can all be shredded to make for disposable rat litter or bedding. Glossy paper isn't as absorbent as matte and is much more expensive, so it's okay to stick to lower quality paper. Just be careful if you have white or lightly colored rats, as newspaper ink has a tendency to stain fur.

One of the least expensive options is hay.