*This is by no means a complete list on how to care for your rat. This is merely what I have found to work best for me and the ratties over the years of having them.*
Caging- A chew proof cage is needed! Wire cages or aquariums will work. When choosing a wire cage look at the cage as a whole. Will it fit in the area you made for it at home? Is it an actual animal cage? For rats, the bar spacing is important. Half inch spacing between bars is best. This is because a rat can fit through whatever its head can go through, and most normal size rats can get out of cages that have one-inch openings. Also, grated verses solid levels? While the grated is the easiest to clean and the most open, if the spacing is too large and the rat can get its foot caught, health issues such as Bumble foot can occur. Solid levels help alleviate this problem, but can also accumulate fecal matter as well as urine if not cleaned daily. A large hamster cage with multiple levels would be the smallest cage for a rat. You want to make sure that the rat can fully stand up on its hind legs somewhere in the cage. A cage with 2 or more square feet is best. Most commercial rat and some ferret/chinchilla cages work best. If you want to spoil your rattie a custom build cage is ideal. You can get it to fit where you want it and give them what they need. Custom cages are available through Ember of Passion Rattery. When choosing an aquarium for a cage, make sure to get one that has ample room for the rat to crawl around in. A 10-gallon aquarium is only good for 1 or 2 very young rats. When they are full-grown a 20-gallon long or larger is going to be best. This gives the rat plenty of room to move around and live in. However, beware that aquariums do not have enough air circulation for the rat. A cage topper is a good solution for this, it give the rat a solid base but also allows them to get out of the aquarium for good air circulation.
Cage Accessories- Rats love stimulation. This is one reason it is suggested that rats live in groups, or at least pairs. Rats will play with and chew on almost anything. Please keep this in mind when you put things into their cages.
Hides and Nest Boxes- Store bought hides and igloos work well, however rats do chew so if they are plastic they could be destroyed fairly easily. Cardboard boxes, cardboard tubes (such as carpet tubes or shipping tubes) also work well as hides.
Food and Water Bottles- There are many different kinds to pick from out there, but keep a few simple tips in mind when choosing and everything will work out. Rats like to sit and hang out the side of the food dishes when they are eating, so try to find a heavy ceramic food dish or one that attaches to the side of the cage. 1 water bottle is plenty for one rat; but if you have more that one rat, a few smaller water bottles will do the trick. This helps stop the fighting over who gets to drink out of it.
Toys and Enrichment Items- Rats need a lot of stimulation. So every time you clean their cage change it up a little bit, give them new toys to play with. Store bought toys made for rats, hamsters, ferrets, and some bird toys all work well. Hammocks, tubes, and other hanging levels work well to add an extra dimension to their cage. Ropes also work well to connect levels and to add something to chew on.
Bedding- We recommend using Carefresh or a generic paper pulp bedding. Carefresh Ultra holds the wetness and odor the best. But please... NO CEDAR or pine!!! They contain toxins that can harm the rats’ respiratory tract. Be sure to clean the cage at least once a week to keep odors and ammonia levels down for the health of you and your rat.
Food- Rats are omnivores, meaning they can eat almost anything. However this does not mean everything is good for them. When choosing a food for them, pick one that is well rounded and has a little bit of everything in it. It more closely simulates their diet in the wild. EPR sells a rat mix food that is well balanced and healthy for the rattie.
Good Foods- Berries, peas, corn, carrots, whole grain cereals, low fat yogurt, whole grain pasta, etc. If you would not eat it (not just because you don't like it) do not give it to your rat.
Treats- Treats should be given in moderation. Some good treats include small rawhide bones, natural dog treats, yogurt drops, frozen peas in the summer, etc.
What NOT to feed...
DO NOT Feed your rat the following items. They are harmful to your babies so make sure to stay away!
Green Bananas, Oranges and Orange Juice, Raw Artichokes, Bleu Cheese, Green Potatoes or Raw Sweet Potatoes, Chocolate, Licorice, Rhubarb, Raw Red Cabbage, Brussel Sprouts, Bulk Tofu - Packaged Tofu is safe, Carbonated Beverages, Uncooked Rice, Insects (wild or farm raised)
What to feed...
Good items to think of offering to your rats along with their grain diet are...
Carrots, Zucchini, Broccoli, Yellow Squash, Pumpkin, Bean Sprouts, Celery, Apples, Pears, Mango, Kiwi, Peaches, Nectarines, Grapes, Raisins, Raspberries, Strawberries, Blueberries, Yogurt, Cooked beans, Cooked Eggs, Cooked Whole Grain Pastas, Cooked unseasoned Chicken, Cooked unseasoned Turkey, Cooked unseasoned Beef, Cooked unseasoned Fish, Cooked Rice
*Do not be limited to this list, this is just a small list of Items my guys get from time to time. Just keep in mind the list of items that are bad to your rat and stay away from those!
Items to feed with care. These items are good your babies in smaller portions. Overfeeding these items can lead to an overweight or unhealthy animal.
Coconut (fresh), Peanut Butter Celery, Roasted and unsalted seeds and nuts..., Peanuts in the Shell, Almonds, Pumpkin Seeds, Pecans, Walnuts, Cashews, Brazil Nuts, Macadamia Nuts, A good Quality Dog food, Dog biscuits, Bread, Rolls and Biscuits, Preserved or dried fruits (fresh is ALWAYS better)