Rats… they’re not just like big mice! While rats and mice are similar in terms of supplies, their care is totally different. They are more expensive to take care of, and they offer more in terms of an interactive relationship. Rats are easily trainable, they’re extremely playful and intelligent, and they’re just downright cute. Here are the things you will need to take care of them. The list is small, but it can be very expensive:
- metal cage
- aspen shavings
- food dish
- a rodent water bottle
- proper food
- a house
Rats are not to be kept in 10 gallon tanks. When they’re little is one thing, as it provides a more enclosed, safe environment, but once they hit adulthood, they’re pretty big, and they require much more space to move around and exercise! The metal cage can by multi-tiered, or it can simply be long, but it should never be crowded. The bottom of the cage should be covered in aspen shavings, not other wood-based substrates like cedar, as they can cause respiratory infections and irritate the skin on their feet. Rats can be pretty messy, so their cages should be cleaned often. Scoop the shavings out multiple times per week, and clean the cage and supplies at least once or twice per month. Do not clean it with harsh chemicals! Instead, use dawn dish soap, and make sure that you rinse the supplies thoroughly.
The food dish should be attached to the side of the cage– rats like to play, and I promise you they will knock it over otherwise. The water bottle will be attached on the outside of the cage, and the water needs to be filtered.
Food is a different story entirely, and this is often what makes rats as expensive as they are. Do not buy rat food from stores! They often contain GMOs, which are extremely harmful to your pets. Instead, make your own healthy food blend! This site contains a complete list of what to and what not to feed your rat, as well as recipes and links to other useful sites.
Rats, like any other pet, need a place to hide. You can get creative in giving them places to hide; you can give them an ordinary shelter, or you can give them play structures, such as tunnels. Play tunnels are also good tools for fun– like I said, rats love to play. They like hammocks, blocks and bricks, and balls. Here is a list of things your rat might enjoy!
On a final note, if you’re planning on having a pet rat, I would recommend getting a second companion. They are extremely communal and social creatures. The most important thing to remember is that these are not creatures you can put into a cage and forget about– you need to spend time with them! They love you, and I promise you will love them!
Tickle them! Cuddle with them! Read to them! Train them! They’re like small dogs!