Rats are intelligent and interactive animals that make good family pets. They can become very tame when handled regularly and typically live for around two and a half years.
Fancy rats are descendants of the brown rats, which originate from Asia. THey are social animals s it is strongly recommeneded they are kept in single sex pairs or groups. Young rats are often easier to introduce than adults, although adults of the same sex can sometimes be introduced.
the mst common ailments seen in rats are sneezing and breathing problems. Be syre to use appropriate dust-free bedding in your rat cage to prevent these problems occuring. If sneezing and breathing problmes persist, seek the attention of a vet.
Rats can get mites and lice, which willbe very uncomfortable for your pet. A recommended topical small animal spray will usually deal with these and your pet shop or vet can advise.
Occasionally a rat's teeth will overgrow, requiring clipping by a vet.
Female rats in particular can develop mammary tumours. The risk of this can be lowered by not overfeeding your rats or allowing them to become too overweight.
Rats are good at hiding signs of illness and can become poorly quickly. If you are at all concerned about your pets' health speak to your vet.It s recommended to find a vet that has experience with rats.
CHOOSING YOUR RATS
There are many colours and varieties of fancy rat available, whichever variety you decide on your rats should be a minimum of six weeks old before you take them home. Ensure they are friendly and healthy before purchasing them.
A healthy rat should be :
Bright and alert
Have no signs of discharge from eye, ears, mouth and nose
Have a clean anal and genital area
Have a glossy coat with no bald patches and no sores on the skin
Should have no signs of breathing problems
Should move around the cage easily
Should feel well covered and not bony, and also not overweight
A cage of atleast 80cm x 60cm x 50cm will gove your rats adequate space. Rats love to climb and will appreciate seperate areas for feeding, sleeping and exercise. Cages specifically designed for rats will usually be plastic and wire or may be on two or more levels. Most importantly they must be escape proof.
Rats will enjoy a varied environment with branches, tunnels and ropes. A dust-free cardboard based product makes an ideal floor covering. Your rat will also appreciate a choice of sleeping places, such as hammocks, baskets and nest boxes.
Rats are clean in their habits but will need their bedding changed and their cage cleaned with a pet-safe disinfectant at least once a fortnight. You can als train your rats to use a litter tray. Litter should be paper-based.
As rate are indoor pats they dhoulf be kept at an even temperature ideally between 16oC and 22oC. YOu should avoid putting the cage in draughts, direct sunlight or in damp or humid conditions.
Rats are inquisitive and active therefore they shoulde be provede with as much stiulation as possible. A solid exercise wheel and a selection of toys to avoid boredom should be provided.
FOOD AND WATER
Rats are omnivores and so will enjoy a varied diet. A complete rat mix, available from most pet shops, should be the basis of their diet. Scattering your rats' food around the cage, as well as using a bowl is a good form of enrichmnet. Dry mix should be supplemeted with small amounts of vegetables, such as kale and brccoli, and the occasional boiled egg. Uneaten foor should be removed regularly.
Food bowls should be sturdy, gnaw-proof and easily disinfected.
Fresh drinking water should always be available for you rats. It should be provided by a gravity-fed water bottle designed to fot your rats' cage.
Handling your rats often willhelp them build up a relationship with you. When you first take your pet rats home, allow them 24 hours to get used to the new environment, then allow them to sniff your hands before handling them. This will get them used to your smell. Stroke your rat and be sure he is facing you, then cup both hands around him and pick him up. Never pick your rats up by their tails.
Rats will also enjoy a 'free range' time in a designated safe area, such as a sofa of hallway, with no electrical wires or narrow spaces. Always supervise your rat during free range time.
Dust-free floor covering, such as shredded cardboard