Petcare:Rats

Rat facts:

  • Rats belong to the Rodentia family and are omnivorous - omnivores eat seeds, grains, grasses and insects.
  • Rats are nocturnal spending most of the day asleep and are active at night.
  • Rats in a group are called ‘a mischief’.
  • Rats domesticated for pets are very clean and intelligent. 
  • Rats use their tail to control their body temperature because they cannot sweat.
  • Rats have very poor eyesight but they have excellent hearing and a strong sense of smell.
  • Rats have 1 pair of upper & lower front teeth called ‘incisors’ that continue to grow.
  • Rat babies are called pups or kittens.

Feeding your rat:

Feeding the correct food to your rat is essential for maintaining good health. Rats require animal and vegetable protein source in their diet. Their food should be firerous texture for help with dental wear.

Rat's, if overfed, can sometimes selectively feed and may leave their less favourite ingredient in the bowl until last. To help overcome selective feeding your rat should be fed twice a day, dividing their daily requirements into two meals and feeding morning and evening and only refilling the bowl once empty.
What to feed your rat?
Rats should be fed a food made up of vegetable and animal protein and a fiberous texture to help with essential dental wear.
There are various types of rat foods on the market:-
Coarse mixes are a blend of  cereals, extrusions, mealworms, vegetables &/or fruit that supply your rat with a mix that's balanced & nutritious and also encourages their natural foraging instinct with a variety of different textures in the mix like rat's would eat in the wild. Mr Johnson's Supreme rat & mouse  mix is the perfect food for your rat, contains dried mealworm a natural source of animal protein and replicating insects they would eat in the wild.
Extruded food - a single tasty nugget that's easy to digest, contains all the goodness in every mouthful.

Introducing your rat to new foods:

Your rat's diet should never be changed suddenly. Abrupt changes in your rat's diet could trigger digestive upsets, especially in baby rat's or rats that are stressed (for example if they have moved to a new home). If you want to change their diet, it is recommended that this change takes place gradually over a 10 day period. This can be done by mixing small quantities of the new food in with their existing food, while reducing their existing food proportionally until the food is fully changed over.

Fresh vegetable, fruit & water:

Rats need fresh fruit and vegetables daily in small quantities they like fresh greens like carrot, broccoli, peas, potatoes & kale along with fruit like apples, grapes, strawberries, melon and banana.

Remember your rat should be fed

these in moderation otherwise they may get an upset stomach.

All greens & fruit should be washed before feeding.

Your rat needs access to water at all times. Water should be dispensed from a drip free bottle, the water changed daily and the bottle cleaned regularly.

Housing, bedding & exercise:

Rats ideally need a cage made from wire that is big enough to allow them to explore and exercise freely. Your rats cage needs to be secure, have plenty of room, an area to climb & investigate, a sleeping area and toys to play with. Remember the bigger the better, a cage cannot be too big.
Rats need to live indoors in a constant temperature and should not be taken outdoors.

Their cage needs a separate sleeping area or a suitable sleeping box placed in a corner of the cage filled with soft bedding material or you could put a rat hammock in the cage as rats love to sleep in these. Your pet shop will sell a variety of different types of rat cages so ask them for their advice.
Ensure their house is kept in a dry, cool, draught free location and well ventilated. You should not keep their house next to a radiator or fire as they may overheat. Remember your rat likes company but may be most active at night, so think careful about the best place for them to live as keeping them in a bedroom may not be a good idea as they can be noisy while they play and exercise.


Rats also like to play in wheels, these should be solid walls to ensure your rat doesn't injure his legs or feet.

Bedding should be clean, dry, and absorbent and dust free  wood or paper based litter makes good bedding. This needs changing regularly to ensure your pet has a dry, clean environment to live and sleep in.

Handling:

Once you have settled your rat into their new home the more you handle them the sooner they will get to know your voice and interact with you.
Do not pick your pet rat up by their tails; it is best if you lift your rat by placing one or both hands under the chest & behind the front legs.
Rats thrive on human companionship so try and ensure you interact with them every day.