Rat care

Rat care

Marie Channer, head of small animal welfare at Wood Green says: “Rats make superb childrens' and family pets. They are really adaptable so tend to wake up when the family comes home from work or school and are ready to come out of the cage and play with you. Rats will even sit on your shoulder or follow you around the house. They really do adapt to you and your family's lifestyle.”

Rats have gained lots of bad press over the years but they really do make great pets. The are very intelligent, entertaining and are highly sociable, both with other rats and with humans. Domesticated rats form very close bonds with their owners, and thrive on companionship.

While it's true that wild rats can carry infection and are dirty, domesticated rats are incredibly clean, keeping themselves and their environment spotless. They are easy to socialise and with regular careful handling should never bite, unless frightened or handled badly.

Rats in captivity generally live for two to four years.

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Before buying a rat consider the following...

Commitment

Rats generally live for between two and four years — are you sure you are fully committed to caring for a rat for that amount of time? 

Space

Rats need a a large cage where they can live with another rat and enjoy plenty of regular enrichment. Rats should be kept in a minimum of pairs, but up to four can live together. They really should never be kept alone. 

Cost

Have you considered the costs involved in owning a rat? Setting up suitable accommodation for your rat can costs hundreds of pounds, then there's food, flea treatment, vet check-ups, pet insurance, money for purchasing new toys and the cost of microchipping too.

Time

Rats will bond closely with their owner and should be handled and socialised every day. They also need cleaning out regularly and health checking every day. Can you commit this amount of time to your rat? 

Pet care advice