How to Care for a Pet Rat

Rats are bright and friendly, and they like to cuddle. They make great companion animals, including for kids. They are playful animals that desire human company, arsenic well as socialization with other rats. Rats require a moderate amount of caution, but, once you get past the initial setup of the enclosure, it ‘s fairly straightforward. Their invent diet can be found in most pet stores. Plus, their caparison does n’t take up much quad and is pretty simple to maintain .

Species Overview

Common Name: Rat Scientific Name: Rattus rattus

Adult Size: 14 to 18 inches ( tail included ) Lifespan: 2 to 3 years

Rat Behavior and Temperament

Rats are social creatures, and most can learn to be comfortable with—and even enjoy—gentle wield by people. They recognize their owners and will flush get excited to see their front-runner humans. They tend to adhere with whoever cares for them and socializes with them the most. so besides spending some fourth dimension on their day by day enclosure sustenance, casual interaction is a must .

Rats are largely nocturnal, but they can be active for periods during the sidereal day. A estimable time to interact with them is much in the flush hours .

To hand-tame a rotter, start slowly by enticing it to explore your hands as you hold treats. Always make surely you ’ re supporting the denounce ’ s weight when picking it up, and never squeeze it. once a denounce is comfortable with this kind of handle, it will probable want to climb on you to explore. many rats like perching on their owners ’ shoulders or cuddling in their laps. And they don ’ metric ton typically sting unless they feel threatened .

Rats are overall quieten pets, though they do make some gentle vocalizations. It ’ s best to keep them away from early family pets to prevent excessive stress and electric potential injuries. But they do prefer to live in pairs or belittled groups. A female couple can much coexist peacefully. A pair of males will sometimes become territorial but can do well if they ’ re introduced at a young old age. A female and male besides can live together angstrom long as they are spayed and/or neutered. otherwise, you will promptly find yourself breeding lots of rats .


8 Things to Know Before Adopting a Pet Rat

Size information

Rats reach approximately 14 to 18 inches long on average, including the length of their chase. They weigh between roughly 0.5 and 1.5 pounds, with males broadly being larger than females .


A powder-coated cable cage with a solid-floor base is ideal for pet rats. It will allow good air out circulation but silent be comfortable on the rats ‘ feet. For two rats, the minimum cage size should be 2 feet by 2 feet by 2 feet, but bigger is constantly good. Because rats like to climb, a multilevel cage would be desirable to give them more exercise and enrichment .

Keep the enclosure in a relatively repose blemish. And make sure it is out of drafts and direct sunlight. stable temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit are best .

Within the enclosure, provide rat toys—especially chew toys. And add a nest box. You can opt for a boughten small animal nest, or use a little cardboard box or half of a clay pot turned in its side .

specific Substrate Needs

place a few inches of bedding materials, such as aspen or paper shot bed, on the buttocks of the enclosure. Avoid cedar and pine bed, as their oils can be harmful to rats. You besides can add some chopped newspaper towels or napkins for your rats to use to make a easy nest. Change the bed weekly when you scrub down all surfaces in the cage with a mild soap and water .

rat cage setup
The Spruce Pets / Lianne McLeod

What Do Rats Eat & Drink ?

Always have clean urine available for rats. A water bottle that attaches to the side of the enclosure is ideal, as it ’ randomness slowly to keep sanitary. But offer a water bowl equally well until you ’ rhenium sure the rats are using the bottle .

Use heavy ceramic food dishes, as they are difficult to gnaw and tip. Pelleted or block-type diets are typically fed as a rat ‘s primary food. They are formulated to be nutritionally complete. Follow the feed instructions on your choose diet, and be sure to run it by your vet. It ‘s park to offer a day ‘s worth of pellets in a dish, disposing of uneaten food after 24 hours before adding the next day ‘s share. Rats tend to graze during their wake up hours .

clean foods can be offered to supplement the diet and prevent boredom with the pellets. Try feeding your darling rats little amounts of fruits and vegetables, whole grain pasta and bread, brown rice, and homely yogurt. occasionally, you can offer low-fat cooked kernel, mealworms, cheese, seeds, and nuts. It is important to keep rats on a high-fiber and low-fat diet .

common Health Problems

Rats are typically hardy pets. But they are prone to some health problems, including :

  • Cancer: Rats are prone to both benign and malignant tumors.
  • Parasites: Rats can get intestinal parasites, such as worms, as well as skin parasites, such as lice.
  • Infections: Respiratory diseases and other infections can affect rats. 
  • Kidney disease: Older rats are prone to kidney disease, as well as kidney and bladder stones.

furthermore, rat teeth continuously grow. And if rats do n’t have enough materials in their environment to gnaw, their teeth can become overgrow and impact their ability to eat. A veterinarian can help identify and correct overgrow teeth .


not all veterinarians accept rats as patients. So earlier even acquiring one as a favored, make certain there is a veteran near you who will treat it.

Training Your scab

Litter trail

Because rats are very bright and naturally tend to pick one spot to use as their toilet, it is possible to litter box train them. Get a litter box made for small animals that your rotter can easily get in and out of, and fill it with a different kind of bedding material from the main cage bed. Place the box in the topographic point where your scab normally relieves itself .

It can help to put some dirty bed in the box to show your denounce that this is the spot to go. however, if the box becomes excessively soiled, the scab might not want to use it anymore. If your rat starts relieving itself in a different spot, move the box there or add a moment box if you have the quad. It should catch on reasonably cursorily, though not all rats will become fully litter trained. Make sure to change the litter in the box daily .


It is significant that rats exercise every day not only to keep them physically fit but besides to stimulate their minds. Rats love to climb and will make good use of ladders, ropes, hammocks, tunnels, and platforms in their enclosure. Some rats like to run on an exercise wheel. If you include one, make certain it has a solid surface, not wires, to prevent wound .

Besides scab toys, they besides enjoy toys made for ferrets and parrots. But look for r-2 and wood toys, as most fictile can ’ thyroxine stand up to the erode of a specify rat. furthermore, simpleton items like bombastic cardboard mail tubes, crumpled paper, newspaper bags, and cardboard boxes can besides make fantastic homemade scab toys. Because rats are very intelligent, it ‘s best to rotate the toys on a regular basis to avoid boredom .

Take your informer outside of its enclosure on a day by day basis american samoa well for exercise. But be indisputable to rat-proof the area because rats will chew on equitable about anything they can reach. Keep electrical wires out of reach, and ensure that your fink can not access anything that is toxic .

Rats besides tend to scent score as they roam, leaving little drops of urine. The olfactory property is not offensive, but you might want to cover furniture with a bewilder while they are out of the cage. They will besides scent score on their owners, so be prepared.


Rats are very houseclean animals that by and large self-groom. But they might require pinpoint trims if they don ’ t naturally wear down their nails. Your vet can either take care of this for you or show you how to do it at home plate. furthermore, rats don ’ t need urine for baths. But if they happen to get some scandal or debris stuck in their fur, you can help them get it out by lightly rubbing the area with a muffle fabric .

sustenance Costs

On a monthly basis, expect to spend around $ 20 to $ 40 on average for a favored rat. Your primary coil costs will be its food and bedclothes. And you ’ ll sporadically have to replace chew toys and early items in the enclosure. besides, make indisputable to budget for act veterinary manage, arsenic well as emergencies .

Pros & Cons of Keeping a Rat as a Pet

Pet rats are quiet and don ’ t take up much space. Plus, they are quite friendly with their owners. however, they don ’ t have a very long life. And you typically have to keep more than one to meet their social needs .

similar Exotic Pets to the Rat

If you ‘re concern in pet rats, check out :

otherwise, check out other exotic animals that can be your newfangled pet !

Purchasing or Adopting Your informer

Pet rats price around $ 20 on average, though this can vary widely. For case, if you ’ rhenium looking for a specific coat appearance, you might have to pay more. On the flick side, you might find rats up for adoption for less than what a breeder would charge .

Because they ’ re a fairly popular pet, small animal rescue groups and even general animal shelters often have rats available for borrowing. You can find them in darling shops besides, though a reputable breeder is better. good breeders and adoption organizations generally provide lake superior care for their animals and should be able to give you exhaustive information on their animals ’ history and health .


exotic animal veterinarians might be able to recommend a adept rotter breeder or rescue organization in your area. You ’ ll frequently have a wider survival of younger animals at a breeder, though rescues can have a good variety angstrom well. Regardless, the seller should show you where they keep their animals. Note whether the conditions appear clean and whether the animals all look to be in good health .

If you ‘ll be taking home multiple rats, avoid by chance becoming a breeder yourself by keeping them with members of the lapp sex or having them spayed and neutered .


  • Do rats make a good pet for kids?

    Rats can make excellent pets for older children who understand how to handle them gently and safely .

  • Are rats hard to take care of?

    Rat care is fairly aboveboard. Their habitat will require some cleanse every day, and they need day by day feedings as well .

  • Do rats like to be held?

    Rats are social and curious creatures. Most rats can be hand-tamed and will even enjoy sitting on and cuddling with their owners .

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