Rats are intelligent and sociable animals and with the correct handling will become very tame. They make good pets for slightly older children, as they tend to be slower and easier to handle than other small animals.

Their average life span in good conditions is approximately 3-4 years.

Handling your Pet

Your new rat might be very nervous when you first get him home. This is due to the change of environment. The best way to deal with this is to talk to him and at first handle him as little as possible, as over handling at this stage causes stress, which can be fatal. When your rat is used to his new home, you should begin to handle him for short periods of time each day. Talk gently to your rat as you pick him up. Let him be aware of your hand and do not rush to pick him up as this will frighten him. Restrain him by holding the base of the tail with one hand and holding his body with the other hand. They will soon adapt to being handled.

Housing your Pet

The housing should be large and give your rat plenty of room to explore. An ideal cage for your rat would either be a large cage with horizontal bars or a large glass aquarium with a secure lid. Whichever cage is picked, it should be easy to clean, well ventilated and escape proof. Cages, which have more than one level, are ideal as they provide your rat with more room. The base of the cage should be covered with a layer of wood shavings to absorb all waste. The cage should then be placed out of draughts and direct sunlight. Shredded paper bedding should be placed in the sleeping quarters for a warm bed. A variety of toys and gnawing blocks should be provided for your rat to prevent boredom.

Wheels are not recommended for rats as they could cause damage to either the tail or the feet. Rats are best kept in groups of two or three, as they are extremely sociable animals; they will entertain each other and provide comfort. The cage should be cleaned daily to prevent odours, and should be disinfected at least once a week with a suitable animal disinfectant.

Feeding your Pet

A rat food should be given fresh each day in a feed bowl. Fresh fruit and vegetables may also be given in moderation. Fresh water should be available at all times. Dog biscuits and rawhide chews may be given as a treat. Dried dog food (pellets) can be added to food as a source of animal protein.


All our animals at Just for Pets are given a health check before being put on sale. Providing that your animal is properly fed and his cage and accessories are kept clean, your pet should remain healthy for many years to come.

Common Illness

Murine Pneumonia: A fairly common disease in rats, thought to be caused by a virus. Symptoms include breathing difficulties and a chattering sound on exertion. Vets advice should be sought, as some cases will respond to treatment.

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