Are you ready for a Rat?

Looking after your rat

Contrary to popular belief, rats make very good family pets. They are very curious and intelligent animals and thrive on human interaction and become tame with regular handling. 

Rats are actually extremely clean animals, spending approximately 40% of their time cleaning themselves. They can live from 2-4 years old, however the oldest living rat and lived to 7 years old. 

Your rat will need to be handled and fed daily. Don’t be fooled by their size they are still a big commitment and you must ensure you can take on the responsibilty of providing a home to your new family member. 

Selecting your Rat

Looking after your rat

Which Rat?

Rats come in many different colours and varieties, however the most important factor to consider is their personality and health.

How old should my Rat be?

At least 4-6 weeks old. 

What to look out for

A healthy rat should have open eyes, be alert and active and have a dry nose. Their coat should be clean with no bald patches or skin stores. Look out for signs of breathing problems, such as wheezing noises as this is a sign of respiratory problems. 

Settling in Time

Allow your rat 24 hours to settle into their new surroundings without handling them. 


Rats are sociable animals and thrive whilst living in pairs. A single rat living on its own will crave company so it is best to buy two rats or more. They should be kept in single sex pairs to avoid breeding. 

At Home with Your Rat

Which Rat Cage?

Rats like to have separate areas for feeding, sleeping and exercise so the cage must be at least 60cm x 35cm x25cm. Rats love to climb, and suitable cages should have multiple layers. A cage that is specifically designed for rats would be a good option although vivariums make good alternatives. You must ensure that these cages are escape proof. Females and males can be neutered.


Line the cage floor with a dust free bedding/litter. Paper based bedding is recommended, as woodshavings have been associated with causing respiratory problems in rats. Provide a nest box with soft shredded paper. Tunnels, ropes, branches and levels will provide your rat with hours of fun for their inquisitive natures. 


Place the cage in a quiet area away from direct sunlight and protected from draughts. Keep it away from radiators, as rats are prone to heat stroke.


Looking after your rat

Rats are omnivores and like a varied diet. Provide them with a complete rat mix and small pieces of fruit and meat. 

Rats need fresh water everyday so ensure to check the water bottle on a daily basis and refill it regularly. 


Rats can suffer from overgrown teeth, which can be clipped by your local vets. Provide gnawing material to help reduce the length of teeth. 

Rats can get mites and lice in their coats, mite sprays can treat this, ask your local Jollyes for advice. 

Rats can suffer with respiratory problems. It can be brought on by stress and a change in environment. If your rats’ breathing sounds wheezy contact your local vets. This can usually be treated with antibiotics. 

Breathing problems, increased thirst, hair loss or bald patches, lumps, excess scratching, weight loss. Please consult your local vet for advice if you are concerned about your rat’s health.