Pet Rats Form Lifelong Bonds with Their Owners

Did you know that rats are super clean? They immediately clean something off their fur if it gets dirty! Here are other fun facts if you're on the fence about owning and caring for a pet rat:

  • Rats are smart
  • This small pet is known to be empathetic
  • They make lifelong bonds with their owners!

These points clearly sold us and while some people think of rats as pests others consider them wonderful small pets. So now that you're on CraigsList looking for pet rats, we thought it would be helpful to include some tips on caring for them.

What should the pet rat habitat look like?

Pair rats of the same gender! These guys are pretty social! Hiding houses should be in their enclosures as well. PetSmart provides specific housing guidelines for those looking for specs.

  • House your rat in a habitat that's at least 24 x 12 x 12 inches (61 x 30 x 30 cm), with multiple levels.
  • Place the habitat out of direct sunlight in a low-humidity area that's between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 Celsius).

Use wood shavings but stay away from cedar.

What should a pet rat eat? 

Rats are omnivores, so they will eat almost anything. There are pellets made specifically for rats that should make up the bulk of their diet. Small amounts of fresh fruits and vegetables make ideal rat treats. Freshwater should be available at all times. Bottles with sipper tubes work best since rats will make a mess if the water is available to them in bowls.

Keep your rat healthy... don't handle them right away! 

Many experts say to try not to handle your rats for 3 to 4 days, so they can adjust to their new home. Even after they are settled in, rats can get sick. Be vigilant and watch for any obvious behavior changes. 

Where do you buy a pet rat? 

A pet store is a great option but make sure the staff is super knowledgeable. When you visit the store look to see how the pet rats are cared for and if they look happy and healthy. How's their housing look?

You can find rats at rescues and of course breeders will be a fabulous resource for first-time pet rat owners.

The one sad piece is they only live until they're 3-years-old.

Guinea pigs are other small pets you should consider if you like pet rats and your roomie prefers another type of pet.

You should also consider hamsters, or even ferrets as a small pet if you think managing care for a pet rat is challenging.

Refer to this advice as far as housing materials like water bottles over water bowls. That water just spills everywhere! A hammock could also be a fun addition to their housing. Remember they're social animals so two male rats or two female rats will provide your rats some enrichment (cage mates!). When you talk to a breeder ask them what makes the most sense based on your set and always defer to them about possible health problems. Exotic animals can carry a variety of diseases so you want to ensure your small animals are healthy and droppings are always removed safely from the shavings.

It would be best if another family member shares the responsibility so keeping rats is fun and doesn't become a burden. Pet care can be difficult without someone helping out! You'll also want to have a DVM available for any signs like sneezing after they're brought home.

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