While, I’m somewhat new to the rat world myself, I’ve picked up a few things that I thought I’d share. I created a Pet Rat Care page for others to reference. The following is based off of my own experiences as a new rat mom, as well as what I have learned via my own research and from others in the Facebook rat groups. I will be adding more to this page as I learn more as well.
How Many? Boys Or Girls?
You should know that rats do get lonely and depressed if they don’t have a friend. Even when you constantly play with them, they need their own rat companionship as well. Be sure to always have at least a pair of either male or females at a time. While every rat’s personality is different, girls seem to be more adventurous and boys are more laid back. I’ve also read that boys tend to be messier and will piddle more on your things. My goal is to find a super chill female.
Cage And Accessories
Since you are now looking at getting at least two pet rats, this means you will need a large enough cage for them. I’ve seen a lot of people love the Critter Nation cages. You can sometimes snag a good deal on Facebook Marketplace. Whatever kind you get, it should have multiple levels of activities with things like toys, hammocks, ropes, baskets, tissue boxes, and more. They love to explore and should stay active. If you decide to get a wheel, please make sure it’s the larger size. Otherwise, it can actually hurt their spines. Same thing with the exercise balls. They are not good for them at all.
*Please do not use an aquarium. Rats are very susceptible to respiratory issues. A tank doesn’t allow for enough air flow to get through properly. Bin cages are also not favorable, unless it’s fully ventilated and only for temporary use such as breeding.
Besides having a decent size cage with activities, I would suggest having the following:
- Water bottle & food bowls
- Preferably ones that attach to the cage
- Litter box & flat, smooth “pee” rocks
- Place in at least one corner of cage
- Thin shower curtain clips, binder clips, zip ties, etc.
- Great for attaching baskets & other things to the cage
- Aspen bedding & large storage bin to store it
- If left in plastic bag, it’s messy when dispensing
- A good food mix & large storage bin to mix in
- I use multiple types of food, paying attention to nutritional content
- Vinegar water mix & unscented baby wipes for cleaning the cage & items
- Safe & effective
- Unscented baby wipes to spot clean your ratties
- You don’t want to regularly bathe them
Shop around as much as you can to try to save some money.
When I first started, I purchased a starter rat setup from Petco for $110. The water bottle leaked, the food dish is a waste, and the spinning wheel seemed to just take up a lot of space. I also picked up a huge back of aspen bedding for $14, while I was there.
Once I realized the water bottle was leaking, I immediately replaced it with a perfect one from Amazon. It’s out of reach, and is really easy to refill. I later bought a slightly smaller cage for only $50, when we needed to separate the boys and girls. The doors stick a bit, but it’s not horrible.
You can also save a lot on accessories if you shop at a Dollar Tree. They have lots of baskets, plastic bins, dog ropes toys, rocks, and more. I also managed to find 230 L of aspen bedding on Amazon for only $20.
Now it’s time to adopt.
It’s better to adopt them from a rattery if possible, rather than getting them from a pet store. A rattery knows the history of the rats, and most likely has several generations invested in the line. They should also be temperament tested prior to adopting. There will usually be a rehoming fee of around $20 each on average from what I’ve seen.
Once you have chosen the right ones for you, and get them home, it’s time to start bonding. You are going to want to handle your new rats as much as possible. Be careful that they don’t wander off or jump away in the process. They are very curious. If you have other animals, gently introduce them. We have a large black lab/pit bull mix. He just sniffs at them and tries to lick them once in a while.
To see a few of our pet rat pics, go to the Ratties album.
**More info will be added soon. Please check back for updates at Pet Rat Care***