Is it easy to take care of a pet rat?

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Rats get bad press when it comes to being a pet. Often thought of as vermin and feared by many, pet rats actually have lovely personalities and are surprisingly low maintenance to keep.

As with all pets, you need to look after them properly, so here’s our pet care advice on how to take care of your rat.

Get a pair (of the same sex)

Rats are social creatures and it would be cruel to keep one on its own. However, don’t fall into the trap of buying a male and a female. Rats can breed from five weeks old, their litters can be as big as eight babies, and the female can get pregnant again in 24 hours. That’s a LOT of rats to deal with.

Buying a pair of the same sex will solve this problem and provided they are socialised well together when they are young they should get on well.

Get a decent-sized cage

Rats need a large wire cage because they love to climb (and they can gnaw through anything less substantial). The bigger cage you can get the better because rats are really active creatures. Get one with a solid bottom, away from draughts and direct sunlight.

Believe it or not, you can train rats to use a litter tray just like a cat so that the rest of their cage is dropping free.

They will need a nest box, something like cardboard or wooden box with shredded paper or straw in.

Feed them a healthy diet

You can buy food specifically for rats at pet food stores, but rats also like grains and vegetables. They love eating scraps, but give these sparingly as they can easily put on weight which will reduce their lifespan.

Make sure they always have a supply of clean, freshwater.

Keep them entertained

Rats need time out of their cage – at least an hour a day. Make sure the room is rat proof and even tiny holes are sealed up to avoid escape. Rats are sociable creatures, so make sure you spend time handling them, as well as playing with them.

It’s important to keep them entertained – so make or buy toys to put in their cage that will give them something to do.

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