House a happy rat

* Rats can be housed in a wire cage with a plastic base, a plastic rat home or a large vivarium with a well-ventilated cover. Wooden cages should not be used as rats will chew their way out. The important thing to remember is that a rat home can never be too big as they love to explore and exercise.

* Multi - level cages are a good idea as they add interest for your intelligent rat. They love to hide and climb and will enjoy playing with a sisal rope or large rat wheel. A hammock is the perfect place for them to play and rest above the ground.

* Rats are best kept indoors and careful thought should be given to where your rat's home is situated. The temperature in the room should be constant, away from direct sunlight and draughts and out of the reach of any other pets. A rat's hearing is extremely sensitive so he should be situated away from loud noises such as a stereo.

* You need to provide a large, secure run for daily exercise. This can be free-standing or attached to the cage. An idea is to use a large cardboard box and put bedding on the bottom. Put in some toilet roll tubes and, as rats also love to climb, you can hang up a piece of sisal rope.
Hide a piece of apple wood for him to gnaw and you will see how much fun he can have in his own exercise yard. However, you should always keep an eye on him whilst he is in his play area.

* Although rats often sleep during the day, they are really energetic and will exercise for 3-4 hours a night, and will enjoy spending the evenings with you.

Pet rat advice at Lomond Hills Veterinary Clinic


Rats are agile, sensitive little animals that deserve commitment when being looked after as a pet.

Feeding your Rat

In their natural habitat rats will scavenge for their food and will eat almost anything. Rats are omnivores and need protein to keep them in good condition. This can be in the form of cheese, but good quality rat pellets will provide them with the balance they need.

Rats need a quality rat mix that does not contain nuts or seeds as these can cause skin problems and spots. Too much green food will cause diarrhoea. If you feed your rat human food, remember to avoid foods that are high in calories, sugary or contain too much fat - rats can get obese very quickly.

Rats need feeding once a day, everyday. A good quality heavy earthenware food bowl is essential to keep the food dry and clean and prevent your rat from tipping the food onto the floor of the cage. Their bowls must be cleaned after every use. Ensure that there is fresh drinking water available at all times.

Feeding time for a domestic animal is often over in minutes whereas, in the wild, feeding takes most of the day as they forage for their favourite foods. By hiding food and the occasional treat your rat will be forced to hunt for his food - this will keep him occupied for many happy hours and prevent boredom.

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