Ask Away Blog: 5 Basics for A Pet Rat

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

5 Basics for A Pet Rat

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You've seen me post before about my own pet rat Charlotte and how awesome she is as a pet.  I love rats and they are an amazing option if you want a furry critter for your kids or yourself.  But for those of you thinking about getting one, you may be wondering what all is required for a pet rat.  They are actually fairly cheap.  The most expensive thing you'll get for them is a cage in the beginning but their monthly upkeep is so easy and so affordable.  Today, I'll break it all down for you.  


1. A Sturdy Secure Cage
So you want something that has metal bars because trust me, rats love to climb.  It strengthens their little bodies.  It's also good for ventilation.  The cage Charlotte has actually comes with 3 different platform levels and little ramps that take her up and down.  She has a level at the top where she meets me to get her food, a level below that where she goes for her water bottle, and then the 3rd level which is where she sits when she wants to just see what's going on around her. 


2. Safe Bedding
The bottom of your rats cage should always have some sort of soft bedding for them to make a nest with and to cushion their feet. It also absorbs their waste.  NEVER use any sort of pine bedding as it causes severe respiratory issues when they breathe it in. My go to bedding is CareFresh Complete Small Animal Bedding from Chewy. It's safe for Charlotte and it works so well to absorb stuff and keep odors at bay. It's also great for her little nest bed that she makes. Bedding should be changed once or twice a month depending on how much waste accumulates.  Keep in mind rats are very clean animals so they don't like when their cage gets too dirty.  











3. Hay for Nesting and Eating
Charlotte likes to make a bed for herself everytime I refresh  her cage.  She also loves using hay to help hold it together and keep it sturdy. 



CareFresh Timothy Hay from Chewy is a great addition to your rat's cage. It's also nutritious for them to munch on.  It's full of protein, fiber, and fat.  It's harder to wear down than other cuts of hay since it's from the first cuts of fresh Timothy hay.  This makes it ideal for helping clean and maintain a rat's teeth which grow very rapidly. Plus the fiber in this hay helps with digestive health.  










    4. Nutritious Food and Steady Water Supply
    You  may see a food brand that has lots of fruits and nuts and seeds in it.  That's technically like feeding junk food to your rat. That kind of stuff should only be given as treats.  I personally love Oxbow Regal Rat Food from Chewy for my rat. It's a low fat diet and it'll help prevent obesity which can be life-threatening for your rat.  Once a rat is older than 4 months old they require different nutrients and fat since they are less active.  They can't have the same amounts that baby rats get so a formula like this one is ideal.  It contains brown rice, oats, wheat, soy, fishmeal, and protein sources with healthy fats.   Rats should be fed once a day and should ALWAYS have fresh clean water.  A water bottle on the side of their cage will do just fine.








    5. Toys and Treats for Rewards
    Rats are so intelligent that they can get bored like we can.  Toys are a must.  Rats love things they can chew and things that make noise.  I have a wooden toy for Charlotte with a bell inside.  She loves playing with it in her cage when she's bored. We even have a little tunnel that she crawls through when I have her out in the evenings. 


    Treats are also a great way to reward your rat for behaving and listening to commands. Yes, that's right, you can train a rat.  There are plenty of online resources to teach you more about that.


    Most of all, your rat will thrive from attention that you give them because they love interacting with their owner. 


    Are you considering a pet rat in your house?





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