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Cages must be equipped with a water bottle, food dish, and place to hide. However, rats are incredibly intelligent, thus much happier when given a variety of toys. Hammocks, igloos, small cardboard boxes (think 12-pack of soda boxes), tissue boxes, plastic pipes and tubes, clean flower pots, old cloth purses without embellishments, etc. Female rats may enjoy having a wheel to run on. Males are less likely to use a wheel (unless it was introduced at an early age) due to their tendency of being lazy couch potatoes. Never use the wheels with bare bars as these can cause broken limbs. Make sure you purchase a wheel size big enough to prevent back problems; 12 inches in diameter is best. Give them several days to decide if they want to use it or not. If 5 to 7 days pass without clear interest they probably don’t want or need it.
Your rat’s cage should allow at least 2 cubic feet per rat. To see if your cage is suitable, please check out the cage calculator. The wiring on your rat cage should have a space no bigger than a quarter of an inch. Baby rats can squeeze through anything bigger.
Commercial Products: CareFresh, Aspen shavings, Alpha-Dri, Yesterday’s News, Cel-Sorb, Alfalfa Pellets, Diamond Soft, Critter Country – Do not use clay based cat litters as they contain a ‘clogging agent’ which can be lethal to rats. Never use Pine or Cedar shavings, which contain phenol compounds that have been found to cause liver changes and respiratory problems.
Non-Commercial Products: Non-looped thread towels, clean old towels and sheets, t-shirts, disposable white paper towels, shredded paper, and newspaper printed with soy ink.
Rattie Ratz recommends Harlan Teklad (HT) lab blocks, Mazuri, or Oxbow Regal Rat. We recommend feeding 80% blocks and 20% fresh fruits and vegetables. Here’s a list of safe foods that you can give your rats sparingly.
Here are some things to keep an eye out for when buying rat food:
- Protein levels should be between 12-14%. Higher protein levels causes negative effects on the rats’ kidneys and heart. The only exception to this rule are babies under 6 weeks old and pregnant females who can have 18% protein.
- Corn should not be the primary filler in rat food.
- Never feed a seed mix. Seeds are too high in fats and proteins.
Don’t Overlook Water
Make sure your rats have a fresh supply of water daily. A bottle system is preferred over bowls to ensure water stays clean and available. It’s a good idea to clean the water bottle out with a bottle brush every so often. Use a tiny brush or cotton swab to clean the sipper tube.
You should also keep track of the level in the bottle so you can make sure your rats are getting water. Sometimes, the ball bearing in the sipper tube gets stuck and blocks the flow of water so it’s important to check to make sure the bottle is working properly after changing the water, re-filling, or if you notice the water level not lowering.
Rattie Ratz is very strict about adopting out single rats. Most of the time, we require rats to be adopted in pairs unless there are behavioral issues.
Alternative to Clipping Nails
Use a brick under their water bottle. This way, when they step on the brick, it will file down their sharp nails. This method reduces the risk of your rat getting hurt due to a nervous owner and even more nervous, stubborn rat.
For more information on rat care, please download our rat care packet!