What You Need To Know Before Keeping A Pet Rat

Now, don’t be too intimidated. Caring for a rat is a fairly simple task, though it does tend to be more difficult than taking care of other rodents like hamsters or guinea pigs.

Rats have an average lifespan of two to three years, so keep in mind that taking one in is going to require some dedication (like any other pet, of course). And some planning beforehand doesn’t hurt, either. In this article, I will explain how to take care of a pet rat properly.

What to consider before you buy/adopt a rat

pet rat take care

Before purchasing a rat, make sure that the place you’re buying from is a good one. Some breeders don’t care much about the rats’ health or genetics, so it’s good to check and see if the place you’re considering doing business with has breeders that take proper care of the rodents.

Buying a rat is only one option, though. If you are able to adopt one, that would be preferable.

What you’ll need to have ready for your new pet

Before getting your rat, it is best to have its basic needs already purchased and set up. That way you can bring it home and it can start living comfortably right away. The supplies you’ll want to invest in are:

  • A good cage with a good amount of space.
  • A little house for the rat to sleep in.
  • Bedding for the cage. Make sure you get the proper kind, as the wrong types of bedding could make a rat sick.
  • Plenty of healthy rat food.
  • A water bottle.
  • A few toys (this is not necessary right away, of course. It can wait a bit, since you’re already spending quite a bit of money on the necessities.)
  • A case to carry it in if you have to take it to the vet.

Also read: How Much is A Pet Rat?

How to properly take care of your rat

Now that you have the basic necessities, (and maybe a few toys,) you are ready to bring your rat home. And now you’re going to need to know just how to care for it once you have it.

Give the rat time to settle in

Most pets will feel a bit uneasy in a new environment at first. When you first bring your rat home, give it some time to adjust before you begin holding it or playing with it. It is getting used to its new cage and overall environment, so giving it some space to calm down is best.

If your rat is sneezing a bit at first, you shouldn’t worry. This is common. If it continues over a the next few days, though, the rat might be a little bit sick. It can be healed through antibiotics from the vet, though, so again, you shouldn’t worry too much.

carrots and beans

What to feed your rat

A rat’s diet is more complicated than the diet of other rodents. Making sure your rat has a good diet increases its lifespan and will also give it more energy and an overall happier, more comfortable life.

Block food is often recommended as one of the best things to feed a rat. You can also give it some treats here and there.

Here is a simpler guide on what you can and can’t feed your rat:

What you CAN feed a rat:

  • Carrots
  • Green beans
  • Blueberries
  • Bananas
  • Tomatoes
  • Grapes

In moderation:

  • Cheese
  • Garlic
  • Strawberries
  • Pears
  • Boiled egg
  • Kiwis

Not a good idea:

  • Oranges
  • Peppers
  • Ginger
  • Mushrooms
  • Tofu
  • Leek
  • Junk food/fast food

Never, ever feed a rat:

  • Lemons
  • Alcohol
  • Apple seeds
  • Raw potatoes
  • Mangos
  • Chili peppers

How to keep your rat clean

It would be best to set up a good cleaning routine early to make sure that your rat is not living in its own mess. Clean the cage regularly and change the bedding.

Another good tip is to litter train your rat early on. That way you don’t have to clean the cage as often, as there won’t be as much of a mess.

How to Care for a Pet Rat

A brief talk on trust training

Soon after getting your rat, you’re going to want to begin the trust training process. That way the rat will become comfortable around you and, of course, trust you. There are more detailed guides on the various forms of trust training, but this will go over some basics.

To begin the training you can start out slowly by offering it food and calling its name. Remember not to handle the rat too much before its comfortable, as that will cause it anxiety and make the training process much more difficult.

Once the rat starts approaching you more for food, start placing the food in the palm of your hand to lead it onto your hand. That way you can begin holding it and it will not be afraid of you doing so.

After the rat gets used to being held, you will then be able to carry it out of its cage to let it roam in a secure place, like a fenced in area in your yard.


The last thing we want to touch on is keeping an eye on the rat’s health.

If you suspect that your rat is sick, the safest option is to take it to the vet. Remember to regularly do some health checks on your rat to make sure it’s healthy, and make sure that you maintain a good diet for it, as well as a clean cage.

Taking care of a rat is a fairly simple process overall. If done properly, your rat will live a good, happy life.

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