Caring for Pet Rats

Family & Friends:
Contrary to popular belief, rats are not disease ridden flea bags that go around biting people and digging through trash. In fact they are actually amazing pets. They are very intelligent, hygienic, and lovable animals to own. Although having pet rats isn’t really simple, it’s still very rewarding. Rats have many specific needs that have to be met or they may have health complications later on in life. They need to be kept in pairs to avoid depression, they need balanced diets, and you have to take them to the vet just as you would with any dog or cat. Owning rats is easily compared to owning puppies. They chew, sleep, eat, play and can really occupy your time quite easily.



 

 

 

 

Bathing/Coat Care:
Believe it or not but rats are actually really clean. They spend more time grooming themselves than cats do. This means you really don’t need to worry about bathing unless your little pets get themselves really dirty which can happen if you own more than two. Their teeth grow continuously so providing them with plenty to chew on and grind their teeth on is very important. They will find something to chew on like clothes, cords, blankets, and more if you’re not careful. Two of rat’s biggest health concerns are respiratory issues, and certain cancers. Keeping a close eye on your rats breathing, eyes and nose is important to make sure they don’t have a cold. Rats, especially hairless rats are susceptible to minor colds, all the way to pneumonia. These can have drastic effects on their life spans which are only two to three years long. Regular checkups at a vets office should help keep these concerns to a minimum and keep them healthy.  

  • Diet and Nutrition: Diets for these pets can be a little complicated. They should be eating a balanced diet of veggies and fruits about three to four times a week and a pellet food mix for the remaining days. You can feed them seeds and treats but rats have tendencies to become overweight from overeating so it’s important to watch how much they eat because they will take food even if they are just bored. There are a number of foods you should avoid giving rats such as apple seeds, celery, dried corn, raw beans, oranges, and chocolate. The list goes on but the list of food they can eat is even longer. Hairless rats need more protein and fats in their diets so giving them seeds more often is okay. Fresh water is should be supplied daily in a bowl but having another water bottle in your cage does not hurt either.
  • Exercise:
    These little guys can be packed with energy so they need at least an hour of playtime or handling. They love exploring so making a safe space for them to run around in is crucial. Rats are escape artists and they will find any hole or crack. You can find playpens for rodents but it’s important to know that they can jump, and they do climb so supervision is necessary. Running wheels work for pet rats, however they need to be big enough for them and wire wheels will hurt their feet or even rip off nails. Rats can be skittish sometimes so always be ready to grab them if they get frightened.  Overall rats can make a great pet. They can provide you with hours of laughter and entertainment as they wrestle with each other or jump around excitingly for food and treats. 
  • Breeds:
    As far as breeds go, rats come in a decent variety including Standard, Rex, Dumbo, and Hairless. Standard rats usually have glossy and smooth coats. Rex rats have curly or wavy hair and whiskers. Dumbo rats have large ears on the side of their heads, just like the disney character. And finally hairless rats have pink, thin school that is prone to scratches, dehydration, sunburns, and dry skin. There are numerous amounts of color variations and markings to choose from too.  
  • Potty Time:
    Rats are very impressionable animals and react well to training. You can train your rats to go to the bathroom in a litter box or even in a specific spot in their cages. They really don’t like to be around their own feces or urine so they tend to appreciate litter boxes or bedding that masks the odor. Their waste can cause health issues so it’s important to pay attention to how much your pets have used the bathroom so you can clean it appropriately. Using a diluted bleach and water spray bottle to clean urine and feces is the best way to clean up.



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