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How to look after
a domestic rat

Learn all about the worlds smartest rodent!

A little about agnes

Agnes is our very own store pet rat. Agnes enjoys spending her days sleeping, eating, playing and hanging out with her friends in the puppies and small animals department.
Agnes is extremely social and loves everyone, however we don't recommend trying to give her a pat, as being an albino rat, she has poor eyesight and sometimes accidentally mistakes a finger for food and tries to take a little nibble.

Like other domestic rats, Agnes is very responsive to training and much like dogs, can be trained with treats. Although rats often get a bad reputation, they are more alike us humans than we think. In fact, some of the organs of the domestic rat are extremely similar to that of a human including, the liver, heart and nervous system.  

fast facts

about the domestic rat

Lifespan2 - 4 years
SizeApproximately 400 - 600g
EnclosureA multi-level small gauge wire enclosure
DietRat mix, fruit and vegetables 

setting up your domestic rat

Housing

When housing your pet rats, it is important to realise how agile they are and that they can be great escape artists.
The best way to house your rats is in a spacious wire cage that has multiple levels and that is designed specifically for keeping rats. These offer good ventilation and allow your rats to be part of their surroundings.

Handling

The best way to pick up your rat is to simply scoop it up into your hand. If your rat is a little jumpy, as some youngsters can be, they can be picked up quickly by their tail close to their body. Never leave your rat dangling by their tail as it can scare them and cause them harm.
Calm, confident, and regular handling will have your rat settled in no time. Until both you and your rat are confident with each other, handling is best done within the enclosure, in case the mouse gets a fright and jumps down it will prevent injury or escape.

Play

While each rat has a different personality, they are all very intelligent, playful, extremely sociable animals that love to be held, talked to and played with.
A variety of toys should be available for your rat to increase environmental stimulation. Toys such as ropes, ladders, and plastic piping or used toilet rolls are perfect to keep them occupied. A rat wheel is a great addition to any enclosure as mice love them and they are a great source of exercise and boredom relief.

care

Your rats cage should be cleaned out once or twice a week, depending on how many rats are being housed. All litter should be removed, the enclosure scrubbed with a small animal cage cleaner and fresh bedding put in. All toys should be removed and cleaned with a small animal disinfectant as well. Remember NEVER use wood shavings, as they can cause respiratory disease in rats when inhaled. A dust free litter, such as recycled paper pellets is generally best. 

As rats can be quite susceptible to heat stress, frozen water bottles should be placed in the enclosure throughout the summer months. It is also a good idea to ensure cool water is available from their drinker and frozen fruit and veggies can be offered.

Rats should be wormed every three months with a small animal wormer, which can be added to their water. Parasites such as lice and mites are easily treated with a small animals parasite spray.

FOOD

 Rats require a mixed diet consisting predominantly of grains and seeds, with some source of protein also present in the mix. This should be served in a small ceramic bowl that is not easily tipped over, and as rats are grazing animals, food should be available at all times. A few small pieces of fruit and vegetables such as corn, broccoli, peas, beans, carrot, apple (no seeds), orange etc. can be added daily. Throw away any uneaten food daily and never feed any spoiled or rotten food. Special treats can be given in moderation, such as nuts, mealworms and sunflower seeds. Wood chews need to be provided as rats teeth never stop growing and chewing on wood keeps their teeth trimmed and healthy.

 Fresh, clean water should be available at all times and is best offered in a water bottle as it is easy to refill and much more hygienic as your rats can’t dirty it.

Health

Common health issues in Red Tailed Black Cockatoos
Respiratory Infections: As rats have such small respiratory systems small dust particles can easily become lodged in their respiratory tract and cause an infection which can be fatal. It is best to use dust free litters for bedding.

 Heat Stress: Being such small animals, rats can easily become overwhelmed by excessive temperatures. It is best to house them in a cool room out of direct sunlight.

 Mites: With an increase in stress or decrease in immunity, rats can experience a mite infestation, which can lead to excessive itching and irritation.

Red flags
Is your Rat showing any of the signs of disease or illness? If yes, please contact your vet.

Wheezing
Sneezing
Hunched posture
Dull coat or eyes
Lowered activity
Laboured breathing

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