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Tips on How to Feed and House Your Pet Rat

Updated on October 9, 2012

Rat Husbandry: How to Care for Your Rat

If you are considering getting a pet rat, you should know the proper way to house and feed your rat. This will help optimize their health and ultimately their lifespan. Continue reading to learn some of my tips on how to feed and house your rat. I am also open to other suggestions from rat owners!

My rat, Nibblet.
My rat, Nibblet. | Source

How to Feed Your Rat

You should provide your rat with a high quality rat food. I recommend a pellet over a seed mix. My personal preference is Regal Rat by Oxbow. Pellets are nutritionally complete, meaning that they include everything that your rat needs to be healthy. Seed mixes claim to be nutritionally complete but you must consider that your rat may not eat certain parts of the mix.

Some may frown at the thought of feeding their rat only pellets. Seems too boring and bland and without variety. Don't fret, rats can enjoy treats also. One popular treat are yogurt drops. They also love fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. My rat so far enjoys peanuts in the shell, apple, banana, and rice. It certainly can be tempting to feed them table scraps as well, and I must admit that I am guilty of doing so. Just don't overdo it on the table scraps if you do decide to be so generous to your rat.

You can't forget about water! Of course rats need plenty of water, but how should you offer it? I feed my own rat with a water bottle, but some rats will drink out of bowls. If you chose a water bottle, make sure to get a high quality one that doesn't leak. If you chose a bowl, pick one that is heavy enough that they can't tip it over and spill it.

How to House Your Rat

Your rat will need a place to live that is large enough. Rats need plenty of room to explore and hide and do all of their business. So make sure you select a cage for your rat that is sufficient in size. Make sure you provide your rat with plenty of hiding places, shelves to climb, ladders, hammocks, tubes, toys, etc. I would recommend purchasing items made of plastic or non-porous materials. You can also use cardboard boxes, but dispose of them regularly as they will become soiled. I like to make my rat shelves and lofts out of cardboard.

The type of bedding or substrate you put in your rat's environment is very important. It is not recommended that you use wood shavings, as they can cause upper respiratory problems for your rat. Instead, select a recycled paper bedding. I recommend Carefresh.

Make sure your rats have plenty of fun in their new home with toys. Rats enjoy chewing so choose something that they can nibble on for a while. One good idea for a homemade toy is to stuff a toilet paper roll with treats and tissue paper and close off both ends. Your rat will have to work for their reward and be entertained for a little while anyways.

Have Fun With Your Rat!

Don't forget to play with your rat outside of their new cage regularly. Always supervise them closely when you take them out to play. And don't forget to have fun with your rat! They are very intelligent and gentle pets. Enjoy!


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    • annstaub profile image

      Ann 5 years ago from Round Rock, TX

      I own one rat and have cared for many as a veterinary technician in an animal hospital. 30 is quite an extreme number! For that many, you would probably need lots of very large cages or an entire room.

    • profile image

      RatLover 5 years ago

      Hi. Umm did you have any experience with rats? Did you ever keep any as pets? What size cage should I buy for 30 Rats?

    • annstaub profile image

      Ann 5 years ago from Round Rock, TX

      Teri - I also had hamsters as a kid. I know many people aren't so sure about them as pets, but compared to hamsters they are so much better! I currently own my first rat and have cared for many in a hospital setting. They are actually rather intelligent. When I allow mine to come out to play, she doesn't try to run away and stays nearby me. Thanks for reading!

    • TeriSilver profile image

      Teri Silver 5 years ago from The Buckeye State

      I had hamsters when I was a kid ... no tails, and that was OK. Rats ... not so sure, maybe it's the word "rat." We're in the country so we get an occasional field mouse in our house; they are small and rather cute (but not in my house, thank you). I try to "shoo" them outside if at all possible, but with 4 cats on patrol in our place, a mouse just becomes another play toy to them!