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Rats Aren't So Gross: A Quick Guide to Properly Care for Rats

Rats have long been considered to be dirty, disease-ridden pests. But in recent years, these furry little creatures have been gaining in popularity as pets. And it’s no wonder why – rats are intelligent, social animals that can make affectionate and unique pets.

If you’re thinking about getting a pet rat, then I offer this quick guide to properly care for rats to all new rat parents! This guide will teach you much of what you need to know about properly caring for your pet; from cages and bedding to food and toys, we’ve got you covered.

rat looking out from it's cage

Requirements for keeping pet rats

If you're intent on keeping pet rats, it's important to make sure you have the necessary supplies to give them the best life possible. Here's what you need:

  • A cage: Rats need plenty of space to roam and explore. It's best to get one with as much floor space as possible, we’ll talk more about this later. Don't forget to include toys, too!

  • Bedding: Bedding is essential in keeping the cage clean and cozy. Look for material with no chemicals or dyes, like wood shavings or shredded paper.

  • Water bottle: It's important to provide your rat with a steady supply of fresh water. A water bottle is the perfect solution.

  • Food dish: Rats need a proper food dish in which to eat. Try stainless steel, ceramic, I do not recommend plastic bowls because rats are chewers and plastic is fun to chew on! However, if your budget allows, you can also purchase edible bowls that are a great source of extra nutrition and provides the chewing that is important for your rate.

  • Toys: Rats need plenty of playtime to stay healthy. Choose toys specifically for rats like chew orbs or hanging boxes.

  • Exercise wheel: An exercise wheel is a great way for rats to stay active and get exercise. Make sure it's made for rats and that it's the right size.

Two pet rats snuggling in their cage

Housing your pet rats

Once you have all the essential supplies for your pet rats, you need to make sure that you have a proper housing solution. Rats are fairly easy to care for, but they do require some specialized housing depending on how many rats you have. Here's a quick guide to housing your rats:

- Single Rat: For a single rat, a large one- or two-story cage is ideal. This will give your rat plenty of room to explore and move around in.

- Multiple Rats: For two or more rats, a tri- or quad-level cage with lots of space will work well. Make sure the cage has ramps and tunnels for your rats to explore and play on all levels. You can also remove a ramp to block a level if you need to isolate one of your rats due to health issues if you do not have a second cage. The bottom section is usually best for this so there is no risk of feces or urine accidentally falling to the healthy level of rats.

- Interaction: Rats need plenty of interaction with their humans. Provide an area within the cage where you can interact with your rats. This will encourage them to come closer and interact with their new family.

- Temperature: Rats thrive in temperatures ranging from 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit, so make sure to keep their cages in a comfortable temperature range.

These are the basic guidelines for housing your pet rats. Make sure to provide them with a secure home so they can grow up healthy and happy!

Pet rat looking over the couch

Feeding your pet rats

Feeding your pet rats is one of the most important aspects of rat care. You will want to make sure that your rat's diet is well-balanced and contains the essential vitamins and minerals. Here are some tips for feeding your pet rats. You'll want to choose a commercially available rodent food, such as a rat diet, that is based on a combination of seeds, nuts, dried fruits, vegetables, minerals, and vitamins. In addition to their regular diet, you'll want to provide your rat with supplemental items, such as chewing treats to help keep teeth healthy, and items to help promote foraging behavior. Rats like variety in their food, so you'll want to provide them with fresh foods and treats as well as their regular rodent diet.

Rats require plenty of fresh water that is changed daily.

By following these tips, you can ensure that your pet rats stay healthy and active. Always consult your vet if you have any concerns about your rat's diet.

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