How To Care For Rats
How To Care For Rats
The pet rat, or fancy rat, makes a great pet, especially for young children. Like many rodents, rats need the right bedding, food, cage, and toys to be kept happy. Care for the rat properly, and he will be an enjoyable pet to look after and raise.
Step 1: Background information
The pet rat, or Fancy rat, originates from Asia, but now lives worldwide. They can grow up to 20-30cm (seven to twelve inches) in length, and usually live from 2-3 years.
Step 2: Buying
When buying a rat, especially for a child, it must be young so that it is easy to tame. Too young though and it may have nutritional and behavioural problems.
Perform a health check on the ears, teeth, feet and fur. You want to avoid bare patches, parasites, diarrhoea, arched backs, and swelling joints.
To sex the rat, note that the gap between the anus and sexual opening in the male is wider than in the female.
Always look for a clean sparkly eye and a zest for life!
Step 3: Behaviour
Rats are intelligent and active creatures. They are social and live well in groups, but make sure they are all introduced at a young age.
They need lots of attention or they will become bored. When handling, always lift at the base of the tail, and support the body underneath. They bond well with a handler, and with enough time and effort, can even learn to respond to their name.
Step 4: Housing
If the rat is allowed out often, the cage need be no bigger than 60 x 40cms (25 x 15 ins). You can use a wire cage, but glass with good ventilation contains mess and smell much better.
Rats can open doors, so make sure your's are secure.
Cover the cage's bottom in aspen, corn cob, or cat litter. If using paper avoid newspaper, as recent research suggests the ink may well be toxic to rodents. Remove this and disinfect the cage weekly.
For a house use a tube, or even a bird box, and fill this with hay, and provide toys to relieve boredom.
Step 5: Feeding
Rats are omnivorous and will leave nothing. Provide mixed rodent feed as a staple, and insects or cooked meat for protein. Also provide fruit and veg, and other healthy tid-bits.
For water, use a drinking bottle, and preferably use bottled water.