Popular Small Pets – Rats

Popular Small Pets – Rats

Choosing a Small Pet: What You Need to Know About Pet Rats

Rats can make fantastic pets, but there are many different things to consider when finding the newest member to your family, so how do you know that a Rat is right for yours? Like any pet, a Rat will require lots of love and care to help keep them healthy and well, so in this blog we are taking a look at Rats, and what you can expect if you were to have a one as a pet.

Rats are sociable animals and it is recommended that they are kept in the same sex pairs or groups. These rodents do not tend to be aggressive, and with regular handling they are very easy to tame.


The average lifespan for a Rat is between two and four years.

Company for Rats

Rats are sociable animals; therefore, should be kept in the same sex (female) pairs or groups. However, it is recommended that you buy your rats at the same time so it is easier to introduce them to each other. A rat that is kept alone will need lots of attention from you.

We recommend keeping rats in groups to avoid any unwanted baby rats but this is entirely up to the owner. It is also possible for two male rats to fight so bear this in mind when pairing.

Where Rats Like to Live

Rats are indoor pets; their cage should be kept away from radiators and draughts and away from direct sunlight.

They are animals that love to explore so choose a cage that allows lots of space to do so, therefore, multilevel wire cage is recommended.

The base of your rat;s cage should be covered with shredded paper; although, avoid using sawdust and wood shavings as this will annoy the rats eyes and nose. A separate space should be provided to sleep in with nesting material to keep them warm.

Exercise & Play for Rats

Rats love to play, so make sure you have lots of toys to keep them occupied. For example; tunnels, ropes and a wheel are great toys to help ensure your rats get enough exercise.

Choose an exercise wheel that will not catch your rat’s tail, or hurt their feet.

A large rat ball is good for burning off energy, but should only be done under supervision for about fifteen or twenty minutes. It can also be useful if you are cleaning out your rat’s cage.

Diet & Nutrition

Rats are omnivores (animal that feeds on both meat and vegetables). A specialist rat food will contain a blend of wheat, maize, peas, soya and chicken; and it should form the basis of your rat’s diet.
As a treat, fresh fruit and dried vegetables such as carrots and apples can be fed, but they should only be given in small amounts.
Like many small animals, your rat’s teeth will grow continuously so a mineral block and gnaw sticks should be provided to prevent them from becoming overgrown and painful.
Fresh food and water should be made available every day, removing uneaten food from your rat’s cage.

Health & Hygiene

A healthy, happy rat will be:
• Active and playful
• Moving freely around its cage
• Have a clean nose
• Have clear and bright eyes
If you are concerned about your rat’s health please speak to your Petmania Pet Care advisors or consult your vet.


Your rat’s cage should be cleaned at least once a week using a pet safe disinfectant. In short, if you find your rat uses one area of the cage to go toilet, it is therefore recommended that you clean this area daily to ensure maximum hygiene. Using a litter tray will make it easier to clean.

Dental Health

Your rat’s teeth will continue to grow throughout its life; so it is important to prevent them from overgrowing by providing gnaw sticks and mineral sticks to help keep their teeth health and trim.


Rats are always cleaning themselves and very rarely need to be groomed.

Fleas and Mites

Fleas and mites can come into contact with your rat, so keep an eye on her skin and coat for signs of fleas or mites; and be aware of any bald patches that may occur and cause discomfort. Fleas and mites can be easily treated.

Breathing Problems

Rats are prone to breathing difficulties which can be identified through wheezing or sneezing. Wood shavings or saw dust are a common source of irritation, so choose a paper based bedding instead.

Take Me Home Checklist

When you take your Rat home, you will need make sure you have some things in order to help keep them healthy and happy. We’ve put together a simple ‘Take Me Home’ checklist for new Rat keepers. If you have any questions, or need any further advice, please drop in to your local Petmania and talk to our Petcare Advisors.

  • Rat cage (wire cage with many levels)
  • Bedding (shredded paper + nesting wool)
  • Rat food
  • Rat house
  • Water bottle (large) + ceramic bowl
  • Toys (gnaw sticks, tunnels, ropes)
  • Pet safe disinfectant
  • Rat treats

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