Pet Corner: Fancy Rats Make Great Pets

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Apr 25, 2014 in Rat Answers | Subscribe



Posted: Friday, April 25, 2014 8:00 am

Pet Corner: Fancy Rats Make Great Pets

by Sari Reis

Mission Publishing Group, LLC

(Mission Times Courier, San Diego, CA) – The National Fancy Rat Society, (yes there actually is one), says that rats are “the most intelligent, responsive and affectionate of small rodents and make ideal pets for children.” If handled from infancy, rats respond extremely well to humans and rarely bite. Because they are fastidious self-groomers, they do not smell and only require occasional bathing. They will need their nails clipped and possible worming, but other than that, they are quite easy to care for. Their average lifespan is about three years. The males are larger than the females and are less active and playful and may be more appropriate for young children. Being nocturnal, rats are extra lively at night so a bedroom may not be the ideal place to locate the cage.

Set up and maintenance are fairly easy. Rats need a wire cage about two feet square with horizontal bars for climbing. The cage must not be kept in direct sunlight or in a draughty area and should be set on a table or counter about hip height, for comfortable interaction. The bottom of the cage should be a plastic tray filled with paper-based litter or shredded paper.  It should be cleaned once or twice a week.

For sleeping comfort, a home -made hammock tied to the cage bars would be perfect for a rat to get his zzzz’s , and a house inside the cage made of an inverted ice cream container with a hole cut in the side, would make any rat very happy. Plenty of cardboard and cut up paper should be available in the cage for play and nest making.  Since rats need and love to chew, a block of untreated wood makes a perfect gnawing toy.

Rats eat a diet of rat pellets (lab blocks) with added dry dog biscuits and fresh fruit and veggies in moderation. They should have fresh water from a bottle at all times.

Rats are very social animals, so it is always a good idea to have at least two of them. Because they are prolific breeders, two males or two females are recommended. Fancy rats also like to interact with their “humans” and should be let out of their cages for about an hour every day. The time out must be supervised and the area rat-proofed before they are released. Make sure there are no wires they can chew through or any other hazards around. Always keep an eye on small children when they are handling the rats because the rodents are small and can easily be hurt or stepped on.

Some common ailments that rats can suffer from are spots and scabs on their skin, parasites, abscesses, tumors, malocclusion and respiratory problems. Make sure you find a veterinarian that can treat your rats should they become ill.

Lastly, be sure to purchase your rat from a reputable fancy rat breeder. It is the only way to ensure the rat is healthy and has been socialized to humans. For additional information, I recommend you get the book, “Simply Ratty” by Thomas Macfarlane. It is a terrific little guide every rat parent should have.  

Sari Reis is a Certified Humane Education Specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services. For more information you can contact her at 760-644-0289 or


Friday, April 25, 2014 8:00 am.

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Certified Humane Education Specialist And The Owner,

Mission Valley Pet Sitting Services

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