Ask Away...: Tips for Keeping Your Pet Rat Happy

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Tips for Keeping Your Pet Rat Happy

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Before you cringe and freak out, remember, don't believe the stuff you hear. Rats are amazing pets!   Ever since I was a teenager I've owned at least one rat at a time as a pet.  I love them so much because they remind me of dogs - they are smart, can be trained, and love interacting with humans.


It's so funny because people are quick to assume rats are dirty and icky but that's actually far from the truth. Domesticated rats are obsessively clean critters. In fact after a few minutes of handling Charlotte, she stops and cleans herself.  She has an organized cage where she stores food far away from where she uses the potty.


Rats are just so sweet and intelligent and for those of you that are planning to add a rat to your home, here are some great tips to help keep them happy!



 
Toys are Crucial
Toys help rats explore, embrace their instincts, and gives them something to do so they don't get bored. Rats can actually have failing health if they are bored, neglected, and lonely so the least you can do when you're not handling them is give them something fun. Charlotte loves her Lava Ledge from Chewy. It's basically a pumice rock and it's great for a variety of critters and attaches easily to the inside of their cage.  It has pet safe coloring, and  it allows rats to chew and keep their teeth filed down.   Charlotte uses hers daily! She also climbs all over it.

There are also wooden chews you can give rats, bells, crinkle toys, and when you let them out to play many a rat has become a fan of small stuffed animals and balls. I had a rat that used to roll a ball at me when I rolled it towards him. See, I told you they were smart!


Human Interaction is A Must
Rats LOVE interacting not only with other rats but with humans. They are naturally social creatures.  Start them young so they get used to handling.  I hold Charlotte at least once a day for 5-10 minutes and up to an hour on the days that I'm not super  busy.  She's perfectly content crawling up my arms and then sitting on my lap while I watch TV.


I always tell people that rats are great pets for kids because they don't get nippy.  Rabbits, hamsters, guinea pigs, gerbils, and mice are actually not big fans of being handled and they can get uncomfortable and bitey.  A regularly handled rat is ecstatic to get some human attention.

Proper Nutrition and Hydration = Happiness
Just like any animal, rats need proper nutrition.  A quality pellet food will suffice and use nuts/berries as treats.  A food that is nothing but seeds and berries is actually comparable to a person eating junk food.  Also, always have fresh water in a water bottle available to your ratty.


I use treats as a reward after Charlotte has good behavior like when I hold her and she doesn't bite me, I make sure she gets a yogurt drop when I put her back in the cage.

Clean their Cage Once A Month
Rats are very low maintenance and a once a month cage cleaning is all it usually takes for Charlotte. I just have James hold her while I dump her old bedding into a garbage bag and then fill her cage with new fresh bedding. 

So as you can see, it's really not that hard to make a pet rat happy.  That's just another reason they make such great pets!








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