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Rat Introduction and Origin

While our domestic rats were bred from the wild rat “Rattus Norvegicus ”, after a hundred or so years of breeding down the line to establish rats for use in research facilities, we are now presented with the domestic rat we see today. There are many different types of domestic rat and they come in a huge variety of colours, coats and markings. They make a great low maintenance, low cost pet and their popularity is growing every day.

Rat Housing and Cleaning

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. Situate their cage in a draught free area. Always provide an igloo or hidey hole for your rats to comfortably sleep in. Make sure your rat has plenty of toys on all levels of their cage and try to include rope swings and ladders. Your rats cage should be cleaned out once or twice a week. 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.

Rat Diet & Water

Rats need a staple diet of grains and seeds. Kellyville Pets stock a pre packed rat mix which is designed specifically for rats. This should be served in a ceramic bowl that is not easily tipped over and should be available to your rats at all times. A few small pieces of fruit and vegetables such as corn, carrot, broccoli, apple, orange etc. can be given each day. Be sure that all leftovers are removed at the end of the day and not left to spoil. Water should be provided fresh daily in a water bottle as it is easy to refill and cannot be fouled. Special treats like nuts, mealworms, sunflower seeds, dog/cat biscuits, small animal choc or milk drops, can be given but in moderation as a reward.

Rat Health

When choosing your new rat you should pick one that has bright eyes and a clean, tidy, well groomed coat, there should be no dry skin or bald patches. They should be active, inquisitive and quick on their feet. Get to know your rat’s individual characteristics so that if these change, you are aware there may be a problem. Look out for wheezing, sneezing, hunched posture, dull coat, lowered activity, and laboured breathing. These are all signs of an unhappy and probably unhealthy rat that may need vet attention. Rats usually live 2 – 4 years, but most succumb to respiratory diseases or cancerous tumours in their old age. Heat is another problem for rats, in the summer, always have fresh, cool water available and offer frozen vegetables. A frozen water bottle in the cage is also a great idea. While rats don’t need any vaccinations, they do need to be wormed every three months by adding small animal wormer to their water. External parasites like lice, mites, and fleas can be treated with a small animal parasite spray.

Rat Temperament and Handling

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. Whenever you walk past their cage they will jump onto the bars for attention and love nothing better than to ride around on your shoulder. A friendly rat will come forward and investigate anything new or unfamiliar in their territory.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. Being sociable animals, rats do like the company of other rats. Two males who have been brought up together can be kept together as long as no female is introduced. Introducing a female will cause fights, as will the introduction of two mature males. Females can be kept together very easily and can be introduced as adults if necessary. Be aware, however, that personality clashes can occur. One male and several females can be housed together but be warned – you will soon hear the pitter patter of lots of tiny paws as they have litter after litter.

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At Kellyville Pets, we encourage responsible pet ownership.

CARE GUIDE © Copyright 2016 Kellyville Pets - All information found in this care guide is based upon our own experience. The information provided is not the only information available. In any medical situations,  you should always consult your vet, including questions regarding your pet's diet.