Owning a pet rat
Rats are easy to keep and derive lots of companionship from other rats when kept as pairs (either neutered or same sex) or in groups. Here’s why rats make great pets.
- You don’t even have to worry about bathing your pet rat. They are very clean animals and although they can be bathed using dog shampoo (as long as it is not designed to treat fleas or ticks) in most cases a simple wipe over with a damp cloth is all that is needed from time to time. Mostly they keep themselves clean through self-grooming.
- Rats love to explore so give them plenty of time outside their cage but ensure the area is rat proofed to prevent damage to your home or injury to your pet. Cables in particular must be covered or removed from the area.
- All rats tend to be active at night or early evening. Try to ensure that they are not kept in an area where artificial light disturbs their natural behaviour patterns. It might also mean they make better pets for young adults or teenagers who also tend to sleep later in the evening! You might also want to avoid keeping them in bedrooms as the noise may prevent the occupant from sleeping – making for a happy rat but an unhappy owner.
- Rats like to spend a lot of their time underground. To keep your pet rat happy, provide tunnels or substrate they can build tunnels through. Some people use sand, sawdust or soil for tunnelling but a very safe option is to bury cardboard tubes under their standard bedding, as this won’t risk collapse.
- Rats tend to use one area of their cage as a toilet so you can place a litter tray here, making it easy to keep everything clean and odour free.
- Rats also like to chew so give them wooden blocks or toys designed for other animals that love to nibble (such as ferrets or parrots).
- Rats can scent mark and may even scent mark on you so be prepared to cover up soft furnishings and keep an odour neutralising spray in stock. It isn’t too offensive – honest!