Rat Care Sheet



Rat, photo by Dawn Huczek
Rat, photo by Dawn Huczek
  • Scientific Name: Rattus
  • Lifespan: Approximately 2-3 years
  • Handling: Any time after he/she gets use to you. He/She may bite if frightened. Do not pick up or pull a rat by its tail.
  • Size: Up to 6-8 inches (not including tail). The tail adds another 6-7 inches.
  • Care: Easy
  • Community: Rats are very sociable and it is recommended that you buy a ‘friend’ for each pet rat. They love to play around and will love the company of another rat. It is recommended to house same gender rats in a single enclosure to avoid aggression and breeding.
  • Lifestyle: Diurnal, active during the day.


A wire cage is the best cage for a rat because they love to climb. This type of cage gives them all four sides to climb and move around on. A tall cage with multiple levels, platforms, and ramps is ideal for a rat cage to allow maximum movement and mobility. This is also a great type of enclosure for multiple rats to use and play around in.


The more, the better, but also give him/her room to roam around the enclosure. Add 1-2 hides per rat for sleeping in and hiding, a wheel for exercising, and a few toys to play with like chew toys, balls, and even toys designed for ferrets and parrots make wonderful toys for rats. If you see one rat using one object, not allowing the other(s) to use it, go ahead and buy an extra one to keep the enclosure fair to all the rats. This will also avoid any territorial aggression that may arise.


Temperatures must stay between 65-78 °F. If you cannot maintain these temperatures naturally because it is too cold, try using a ceramic heat emitter or red heat bulb for night time, and a regular daily house bulb for the day time. Up the wattage if the temps are still not getting reached. However, most houses reach these temperatures naturally, not having you to buy any lighting or heating.


Most rat food can be bought online or at a pet store. Rat food consists of:


  • Pellets

Which are ingredients grounded up, crushed, and mixed together to make a special pellet diet for your rat.

  • Fresh Foods

Fresh foods are a good addition to your regular rat food diet. This may include: bananas, oranges, peas, spinach, kale, broccoli, apples, green beans, and carrots. Remove any leftover food you see the next day to avoid bacteria or mold build up.

  • Treats

A good way to reward you rat for good behavior (not biting you), on holidays, or even birthdays is to offer him/her treats. Treats should only be fed once in a while. Too much treats can lead to bad health. Treats include: seeds, nuts, dried fruit, whole wheat bread, uncooked pasta pieces, and your regular pet store rat treats that you may buy. And for you live food handlers an occasional mealworm or two will be good to feed as well.


Water must always be available to your rat 24/7. You can either place a water dish in the enclosure which should be cleaned and replaced every other day or have a water bottle specifically made for rats placed on the side of the enclosure which should be re-filled weekly. If you do not see your rat drinking, try offering fresh fruit to help with hydration.


Rats usually like to burrow, so the bedding should be a few inches deep. The substrate should be changed out weekly to avoid bacteria build up from the rat using the restroom daily.


Bedding can be:

Aspen Fresh, Aspen Shavings, Aspen Supreme Pelleted Pet Bedding, Carefresh, Cell-Sorb Plus

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