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Rats Care Sheets
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Mice and Rats or other Rodents Forums and Discussion DISCLAIMER - PLEASE READ More Mice and Rats or other Rodents Care Sheets

Care Sheet for Mice and Rats or other Rodents

Average Rating Given To This Care Sheet Is 2.75    (1=lowest, 5=highest)    Last Updated: 09/27/2005

Main Category:


Sub Category:

Mice and Rats or other Rodents

 Care Sheet Submitted By:


Years Experience:

5 to 10 Years



Other Species or Phases this Care Sheet May Cover:

Rats of all phases

Sexing and Characteristics:


Mostly Active During:


Substrate and Water Needs:

Wood shavings is a suitable substrate to use and has never caused any health problems for the rats at all in my experience.
A cheaper substrate would be newspaper, but I would advise that you use brown paper bags or butcher paper, because the ink on newspaper has been known to effect the health of some Rats. It can also get on their skin and fur, making them noticeably dirty.
(If you provide them with an ample supply of paper, you might also notice that they can weave interesting towers, tunnels, nests and dens)

Lighting and UVB:

Rats do not need any UVB. Lighting is only necessary if you keep yours in the basement or in deep bins or boxes where it can get dark and gloomy. In my experience, Rats become miserable if kept in these circumstances.
Avoid putting their tanks next to windows or in direct, this can over heat them if kept in tanks. If you have a wire cage this shouldnít be an issue as many people often keep their Rats outside anyways.

Temperatures and Humidity:

Rats are comfortable in the same temp and humidity levels as we humans are. Try to keep the temperature in the 70ís and 80ís. Hot rats can be given a bit of frozen fruits or veggies as a cool snack or you can use a tiny bit of ice in their water.

Heating and Equipment:

Unless you live in a very cold region, heating wont be needed until winter. If your house is warm in winter, you wont have to worry about heating at all. If this is not the case and your house does get cold, you can put them near warm air vents and/ use a heat lamp (I would only recommend using a lamp if it is really cold).
You can also try feeding them more raw nuts (almonds work great) right before winter sets in so that they will gain a bit more fat which will hold in more body heat.

Some other items youíll need:
Lots of toys (rat wheel, rat ball, a chew toy, things to climb on, tubes or hides, den, etc.)

A water bottle (Iíve had a couple Rats drink out of small bowls, but all have preferred a water bottle)

A small bowl for grains, nuts and seeds etc.

Caging Provided:

Iíve used them all. Tanks, Rubbermaid bins and Home made Wire cages.

Tanks are expensive and hold humidity due to low/no ventilation. If you use these, mold will appear faster in tanks than other cages, if the humidity is very high. However, tanks are much easier to clean than most wire like cages.

Rubbermaids are very inexpensive. If you use one of the taller ones, you might have no need for a lid (Rats can climb and jump very high!). However, Rats tend feel more crammed and stressed in dark bins, and will need to be closer to a light source. If you desire to use a bin, you might want to consider buying one that is bigger than the minimum size requirements.

Wire cages (especially home made) are very convenient to use. They arenít very expensive to build, they provide lots of ventilation and my Rats seemed to like them more. If you decide to make one of these, build it in a way so that your Rats do not come in contact with any sharp edges. I have found wire cages harder to clean than others, but they are worth the extra five minutes of cleaning.

What ever cage you choose, it needs to be at least a 30 gallon enclosure. I strongly recommend using/installing second and third levels. These provide your Rat/s with tons more room and more exercising.



Description of Diet:

I disagree with almost all care sheets and other people who would suggest that a Ratís main diet should be any pet store product. These consist mostly of Grains, Nuts and Seeds. In almost all situations these contain additives, are cooked, contain chemicals, and/or is just poor quality food for rats.

Rats need to eat more RAW vegetables and fruits. If you feed your Rat the three above all through out the year with little or no fruits and veggies, you risk your Rat having an early death. Grain especially can clog their intestines up and/or cause other sickness.

Try more food like this: Carrots, Beats, Cucumber, Peas, Raw Corn, Bell peppers, Grapes, Apples, Raw Almonds and other Raw Veggies(40%), Fruits(30%) and Nuts(30%). (If this is food you usually keep in your fridge, youíll save yourself lots of time and money!)

Supplements, Nutrition and Usage:

Iíve had seven Rats. Iíll give you a BRIEF history of their lives. (Compared to other Rats belonging to people I knew)

Rat 1. Lived healthily. Died of very old age. Over 3yrs
Rat 2. Killed in accident
Rat 3. Sick when bought. Died soon after.
Rat 4. Lived healthily. Died of old age. 2 1/2 yrs
Rat 5. Killed in accident
Rat 6. Lived healthily. Died at age 2
Rat 7. Lived healthily. Died of old age. 2 1/2 yrs

Friendís Rat. Fed ONLY grains, etc. Died at age 1 1/2 from cancer in the intestine.

Other friendís Rat. Fed Only grains, etc. Put to sleep at a little over age 1 due to severe pain and illness.

With the exception of Rat 3, NONE ever needed medication or a vet visit. NONE ever got sick.

The only supplement Iíve ever used was Echinacea, for Rat 3. Others have expressed that this is a good supplement for sick Rats.

If you decide to feed your Rat less grain, I believe you might become as lucky as me and have your rat live to be over 3yrs old with no medication, supplements or sickness. If you preffer to keep buying them food, supplements and taking them to the Vet, thatís your choice.


Clean cage weekly. Fill up bottle once empty. If you use a water bowl you might need to clean and refill it every other day. Feed daily.
You can also give them baths when you clean their cages. They donít really like it though, so donít do it all the time, and donít let the water level rise up more than a few inches

Some Words on this Species:

Rats are the most affectionate and loving animals it has been my pleasure to own. They are very talented little creatures and can be easily trained in many ways. Rats 1, 3, 4 and 5 were so clever, that they would sneak up on any occasional fly that they chanced upon and jump up and catch them in mid air! They were amazing!
Rats are very inexpensive, very clean, relatively easy to maintain, full of character and talent and chances are, youíll get very attached to them! Please take good care of your Rats!
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The information contain in these care sheets represents only the opinions and husbandry care of members and therefore is not guaranteed to be 100% accurate or reflects the advice or opinions of It is always advised to seek additional information or the advice of a qualified veterinarian or qualified reptile dealer. It is also advisable for you to a good amount of research before implementing any of the ideas and care described in these care sheets. We also recommend you ask many questions in their related forums before acting on any information.

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