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Rats as Pets

Yes, I said Rats. They make awesome pets and are clean.  Most Rats do not bite, compared to a hamster or gerbil, in the past I have had pet rats and mostly just one rat at a time. I used to keep the rat in a 10 Gal aquarium which I find out is wrong. The rat would just lie in the Aquarium all day and looked depressed. Times have changed for the better for the rat. I started reading and doing research. Rats are sociable. Always have at least two Rats together, same sex of course or you will have many more unless they are neutered. Rats like to run and play with each other and their toys. Homemade toys are the best and are cheap.

Housing:  First let me talk about housing for the Rats. Please don’t keep them in an aquarium. The air does not circulate in them to well and the ammonia builds up quickly from their urine and will cause the rats to have upper respiratory infections. Rats are clean; they clean themselves daily like a cat. They also can be litter box trained. Homemade cages can be built; there are so many ways to build them a cage so they will be happy and healthy. I decided on purchasing a 5 foot tall multi-level metal cage (used usually for a ferret of Chinchilla) as rats cannot chew through the metal.  The spacing of the bars on the cages can be ½ inch – ¾ inch wide. Female rats cannot get their head through them and escape. Remember if they can get their head through the rest of their body will fit through also.  If the bar spacing is too wide you can buy coated hardware cloth and it can be zipped tied to the existing bars on the outside of the cage and your pet rats cannot escape. The multi-level cage that I purchased, I set it up, put the levels and ramps in. I left room for a fabric hammock and other toys to put in their Rat Condo, as I now call it. J The rats love it! I bought two Sterilite containers to put on the bottom of the cage for their litter boxes. It is amazing to see them sleep on the top of the Rat Condo and when they wake up they go running down the ramps to the bottom of the Rat Condo to go do their business in the litter boxes. It was so easy litter box training them. On the Internet research in You Tube, type in “How to litter train a rat”.


Diet:  Make a homemade diet mixture or better yet, feed your Rats most of the Natural healthy diet that you eat. Rats can eat Fruits, vegetables and even cooked meat along with seeds, grains, nuts, berries, mealworms, insects, fish and eggs. Rats are Omnivores. They need a wide variety diet to stay healthy and not the commercial bird seed looking food sold in the pet stores. There is some food that they should not have also like onion, make sure you do research. Stay away from processed foods. If it has Soy or chemicals in the food that you eat do not feed it to your rats. It may cause cancer.  I feed my rats, mealworms, superworms (feed one at a time presented to the rats with tweezers, as they love them and may accidently bite your finger) cooked chicken, steak, beef, nuts, strawberries, banana, blueberries, all kinds of fruit and vegetables. For a treat as they should not get too much sugar in their diet, a piece of cookie every once in a while. They eat cooked oatmeal even.

Toys:  Buy a yard of fleece and make braided walking ropes, a hammock for them to sleep on. I put a paper bag in their Condo with a hole in it and they use that for a nest box. Buy a $1.00 box of tissues and they will have start pulling out the tissues for nesting material. Old socks can be used. If you knit or crochet you can make a hammock out of yarn. Empty milk carton with an opening cut out of it. Rocks, they like to climb and using a rock(s) will also keep their nails trim.


Do Rats bite? Any animal can bite. Rats hardly ever bite compared to a Hamster or Gerbil. If you have a food smell or leftovers on your fingers that they may accidently bite your finger looking for the food. Friendly pet rats usually will be used to being petted and held that they won’t bite as they trust you.


To get you started on your research for your Rats for a happy healthy life here are some links:


Adopt a rescued rat from a local rescue Organization:







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