TOP TEN TIPS
Rats are highly social animals and should always be kept in single sex pairs or groups. It may cause increased aggression and frustration if entire males are housed in close proximity to females.
Adult rats will usually accept new additions to their group. Introducing young rats to a group is generally easier, but careful introductions with adults can be successful.
House them in a large area with plenty of hidey-holes and levels that they can climb up onto. Cages are preferable to tanks which limit ventilation and climbing opportunities.
Rats enjoy having things to offer physical and mental stimulation so enrich their cage with tubes, hammocks, paper towels, terracotta plant pots, small branches, rope ladders etc.
Rats are omnivores and their preparatory diet can be supplemented with fresh vegetables, fruit, meat and bones. They love food and can be prone to obesity so limit sugary or starchy foods such as pasta. Hide food in different areas around the cage so they have to hunt for it.
Rats thrive on regular interaction and love to play – gently handle your rats on a daily basis and make it a pleasant experience for them.
These intelligent animals can be taught lots of tricks such as come, spin, jump up, even basketball or agility! They will work incredibly hard for treats and this is a great way to keep them active and bond with them.
Keep the cage out of direct sunlight, draughts and heat. Allow them to experience the natural change of light from day to night and from night to day. Rats are more active during the evenings and early mornings.
When cleaning the cage avoid strong smelling detergents and mix some of the old (but clean) bedding in with the new to maintain a familiar scent. Rats will often use corner litter trays which should be changed every few days. As rats have sensitive respiratory systems, avoid strong smelling wood-based products such as pine, and use dust extracted bedding.
If you experience a high rate of aggression within your group, consider whether your rats have enough space and resources e.g. comfy sleeping places. Although rats will usually snuggle together, tension in the group can escalate if resources are limited. If aggression continues, seek help from a behaviourist.