Because of their small size, unique appearance and easy care schedule, rats make a popular pet among kids as well as adults. Amazingly intelligent and surprisingly clean, rats are an ideal indoor pet and can provide years of happy companionship.
We have put together a helpful beginners guide on how to care for your furry friend:
Get a Great Cage
Rats are social animals and, when left to their own devices, they choose to live in large groups. Because of this, rats in captivity will be much happier when they are purchased and allowed to live in pairs. When choosing a cage for your new friends, consider the fact that rats love to climb. For this reason, rats will be happier and healthier when kept in wire cages that allow them to climb and explore. Multi-level cages are best, although a single-floor cage will work.
Generally, the cage should be no smaller than two square feet; the larger the cage, the better. Rat parents should avoid purchasing cages with wire bottoms as they may injure their rat’s feet and create an unsanitary environment. Cages with solid bottoms are best and should be lined with recycled pellets or aspen-based bedding. Rats naturally love to make nests and will take great joy in burrowing into deep bedding.
Furnish the new Digs
Rats love furniture and will appreciate a cage filled with tubes, branches, exercise wheels and places to hide. Many rat parents choose to incorporate PVC pipes, sticks, twigs and untreated blocks of wood as well as store-bought rat toys into their pet’s cages. Rats are active creatures and bored rats can easily become depressed and unhappy. In order to avoid this, be sure to provide your rat with plenty of toys and change them out often to maintain a level of stimulation and interest in the cage.
Keep up on Housekeeping
Rats are generally clean animals but the cage will still need to be cleaned thoroughly on a daily basis. In order to ensure the best possible health and happiness for the rat, remove droppings, wet bedding and uneaten food from the cage and be sure to provide fresh food and water at least daily, if not more often. Once a week, the cage should be disassembled and all surfaces, including toys and furniture, should be scrubbed thoroughly with warm, soapy water.
Feeding Your Rat
Rats are voracious eaters and will enjoy foods like broccoli, carrots, bananas and leafy greens. For added dietary fiber, rats can also be fed cooked pasta, pieces of cooked chicken and egg or even a small amount of bread. To supplement these foods, rats should consume a daily diet of store-bought rat pellets that offer plenty of protein and soy meal. Rats should have free access to pelleted foods and be allowed to eat as much or as little as they deem necessary.
These basics can get you started, but we’d love to hear from readers what tips they could suggest for rookie rat parents!
Content reviewed by a veterinarian