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Caring for Pet Rats

Rats aren’t the dirty scavengers you might think they are—in fact, they’re generally thought of as wonderful domesticated pets! Learn more about caring for a rat below from a Livonia vet.

Housing

A rat will need a decent-sized wire cage outfitted with plenty of hiding spots and fun toys. Make sure the floor of the cage isn’t made of wire, though, as it can lead to foot problems. Since rats may be happiest when paired with another rat, a cage may need to be big enough for two! You’ll need the proper bedding material to line the cage—most rat owners choose aspen or other hardwood shavings, while some use alternative products that can also work well. Ask your vet for further advice.

Diet

Rats will be fed a commercial pellet diet, available at pet stores, veterinarian’s offices, and certain retail outlets. Their diet should be supplemented regularly with fresh fruits and veggies, so ask your vet what types will work best. Rats can also enjoy certain pastas, rice, small amounts of dairy, and bits of cooked meat. Rats need a lot of fiber and not a lot of fat, so keep this in mind. Consult your veterinarian on any foods you’re unsure about.

Rat Personality

Rats are smart, lively, and curious animals who, as mentioned, will be happiest when living with another rat. This is because of their highly social nature. They’re largely nocturnal, so it may be necessary to keep your rats’ cage in a separate room where they won’t wake you up.

Remember that you’ll need to exercise your rat outside of their cage for at least an hour each day. This is also important for good socialization—your rat will become most friendly with people if he spends time with them daily.

Choosing a Rat

When picking a rat to bring home, look for one in optimal health. Your choice shouldn’t look too fat or too skinny, and should act alert, not sluggish. Make sure the coat is clean and clear, and see if the eyes, nose, and mouth are free of debris or discharge.

Want to know more about the ownership and care of rats? Wondering if they’ll make a good choice for your family pet? Call your Livonia veterinarian today to find out even more.

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