Pet Rat Care
By Michael Russell
Even though it might not seem like it, rats actually make great pets and companions. They are very smart animals and extremely clean. Rats absolutely love attention and form strong bonds with their owners. They are not for everyone though.
Before you get a pet rat, make sure you will have time to interact with it every day and clean out the cage at least once a week. You will also need to find a vet that treats rats.
You will need to find a good place in your home to keep your rat cage. Make sure the area is draft free, climate controlled and in a room that does not have stressful noises. Try to get a relatively large cage. Rats should not be kept in small aquariums or cramped cages.
When you get a rat, it is recommended that you actually get two rats of the same sex. Rats are very sociable animals and will be much happier with a friend. Two rats will groom each other, play together, and sleep together. Rats can be kept alone but it is much better to have more than one.
There are several sources for obtaining a rat. Pet stores often have rats, but they often do not have the best temperaments. If you get a rat from a pet store, make sure that the males and females are kept in separate cages. Rats mature at a very young age, so if you get a female from a store that keeps the males and females together, you may be getting a pregnant rat. Try to choose a healthy looking, friendly rat. Getting a rat from a breeder is probably the best place to get them from. Rats from breeders are usually very healthy and tame. Animal shelters also sometimes have rats. Just be aware that these rats were abandoned and may have behavioral problems.
Your rat will be spending a lot of time in its cage so make sure you get accessories to keep you rat happy. First, you will need a bed or sleeping spot for your rat. You can use a nest box or anything similar that lets your rat have privacy. You will also need bedding, which can be shredded paper, paper towels, or Carefresh bedding.
Rats need things to do in their cage so they don’t get bored. You can get many different types of toys for them. An exercise wheel is a wonderful cage accessory if your rat will run in one. Just do not get a wire wheel because they can be injured on these. Other great toys include ladders, bird branches, ropes, and climbing tubes. Rats love to get up high so you can also get a hammock that hangs in the cage. There are many different types sold at pet stores.
Rats will need food and water in their cage at all times. You should use water bottles instead of water bowls so they don’t get knocked over or dirty. There are many packaged mixed grain diets available at pet stores but these are actually not recommended. They usually have too much corn or seed in them and don’t have the nutrients your rat needs. Lab blocks are the best base diet to feed your rat, but you should also feed vegetables, fruits and some nuts. Harlan Teklad is an excellent brand of lab blocks.
Rats love attention and will look forward to being with you. They are much smarter than other rodents, which makes them a lot more fun to play with. Before your rat will play with you though, it has to learn to trust you. When your rat starts to trust you, you can let them ride on your shoulder and play with them. When you let the rat out, just is sure the area is rat-proofed so they don’t get hurt.
Rats make great pets. They don’t require the care that most pets do, like bathing, clipping and walking. They can even be litter trained! Once your rat learns to trust you, it will start to form a very strong bond with you. Rats are extremely playful and cuddly. They do require time and care though. Learn as much as you can about rats before you get one.
Your Independent guide to Pet Care
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