Choosing a Rat as a Pet

Rats are sociable animals and it is recommended that they are kept in the same sex pairs or groups.

They do not tend to be aggressive, and with regular handling they are very easy to tame.

Company for Rats

Rats are sociable animals, and should be kept in the same sex (female) pairs or groups. It is recommended that you buy your rats at the same time as it is easier to introduce them to each other. A rat that is kept alone will need lots of attention from you.

We recommend keeping rats in groups to avoid any unwanted baby rats but this is entirely up to the owner. It is also possible for two male rats to fight so bear this in mind when pairing.


The average lifespan for a Rat is between two and four years.

Where Rats Like to Live

Rats are indoor pets; their cage should be kept away from any radiators or any draughts and away from direct sunlight.
Rats are animals that love to explore so choose a cage that allows lots of space to do so. A multilevel wire cage is recommended.
The base of your rats cage should be covered with shredded paper, avoid using sawdust/ wood shavings as this will annoy the rats eyes and nose. A separate space should be provided to sleep in with nesting material to keep them warm.

Exercise & Play for Rats

Rats love to play, so make sure you have lots of toys to keep them occupied. Tunnels, ropes and a wheel are great toys to help ensure your Rats get enough exercise.

Choose an exercise wheel that will not catch your Rats tail, or hurt her feet.

A large rat ball is good for burning off energy, but should only be done under supervision for about fifteen or twenty minutes. It can also be useful if you are cleaning out your Rats cage.

Diet & Nutrition

Rats are omnivores (animal that feeds on both meat and vegetables). A specialist rat food will contain a blend of wheat, maize, peas, soya and chicken and should form the basis of your rat’s diet.
As a treat fresh fruit and dried vegetables such as carrots and apples can be fed, but they should only be given in small amounts.
Like many small animals, your Rat’s teeth will grow continuously so a mineral block and gnaw sticks should be provided to prevent them from becoming overgrown and painful.
Fresh food and water should be made available every day, removing uneaten food from your Rat’s cage.

Health & Hygiene

A healthy, happy Rat will be:
• Active and playful
• Moving freely around her cage
• Have a clean nose
• Have clear and bright eyes
If you are concerned about your Rat’s health please speak to your Petmania Pet Care advisors or consult your vet.


Your Rat’s cage should be cleaned at least once a week using a pet safe disinfectant. If you find your rat uses one area of the cage to go toilet, it is recommended that you clean this area daily to ensure maximum hygiene. Using a litter tray will make it easier to clean.

Dental Health

Your Rat’s teeth will continue to grow throughout its life, so it is important to prevent them from overgrowing by providing gnaw sticks and mineral sticks to help keep her teeth health and trim.


Rats are always cleaning themselves and very rarely do they need to be groomed.

Fleas and Mites

Fleas and mites can come into contact with your Rat, so keep an eye on her skin and coat for signs of fleas or mites and be aware of any bald patches that may occur and cause discomfort. Fleas and mites can be easily treated.

Breathing Problems

Rats are prone to breathing difficulties which can be identified through wheezing or sneezing. Wood shavings or saw dust are a common source of irritation, so choose a paper based bedding instead.

Take Me Home Checklist

When you take your Rat home, you will need make sure you have some things in order to help keep him healthy and happy. We’ve put together a simple ‘Take Me Home’ checklist for new Rat keepers. If you have any questions, or need any further advice, please drop in to your local Petmania and talk to our Petcare Advisors.

  • Rat cage (wire cage with many levels)
  • Bedding (shredded paper + nesting wool)
  • Rat food
  • Rat house
  • Water bottle (large) + ceramic bowl
  • Toys (gnaw sticks, tunnels, ropes)
  • Pet safe disinfectant
  • Rat treats
  • Rat book
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