Rats make good pets for children as they are friendly, easy to handle, are highly intelligent and can be trained. They are very social animals and love to have a companion.
They pose no more of a health risk than other common pets. There is a great variation in colouring, markings, body types and coat types.

Physiological data

    • Heart rate 130-190 beats/minuteRat
  • Body temperature 38.0 °Celsius
  • Life expectancy 2-5 years
  • Sexual maturity:
    1. Male 6 weeks
    2. Females 6weeks
  • Pregnancy 24-26 days
  • Litter size 3-6 kittens
  • Weaning 4-5 weeks of age

Housing
As they spend a lot of time in their cage buy a cage as large as possible. The cage should have a surface area of at least 40 cm x 80 cm. Rats love to play and to climb so a cage with different levels is a must. As rats are very clean animals they will use a small litter tray (filled with cat litter) as their toilet. A variety of toys are available to put in the cage, most of them are also suitable for ferrets. Tunnels, hammocks and ropes are the favourite ones. Make sure that there is a dark area as sleeping place; rats like to sleep in a dark place.
As bedding use wood based cat litter or special unperfumed rat bedding.

Feeding
The best time to feed your rat is in the evening. They should have daily:

  • Rat mix - good quality food is Reggie Rat or Burgess Supa Rat.
  • Fresh Water - daily changed
  • Treats: raisins, plain popcorn, yoghurt drops for hamsters.
  • Fresh Vegetables/ Fruit - small portions of: carrots, apple, grapes, strawberry, cucumber, broccoli, cauliflower, tomatoes.

Buying a rat
As they are very sociable animals. You must choose at least 2 rats (same sex to prevent babies!) preferable from the same litter.
The rats should be friendly, have a nice shiny coat without bald patches or crusts. Red staining around the eyes/ nose is a sign of an underlying illness so do not buy them. They should not sneeze or wheeze.
In general males are less active then females

Common problems
Mange
Mange is a tiny parasite which lives in the skin. It is characterized by dry, scaly skin, open wounds and scratching. It is treated with a spot on preparation.
Sneezing, wheezing
Rats are very prone to develop respiratory problem. Sometimes it is caused by the bedding but most of the time it is infection related. An antibiotic course will commonly keep it under control.
Tumours
From 1 year old rats can develop tumours. They can be benign or malignant. Early surgical intervention can be beneficial.

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