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Considering Pet Rats?


Things to think about BEFORE you purchase


Although rats are relatively inexpensive to purchase,

they are not low maintenance pets.

So before making the final decision to get pet rats,

there are a few things that you should give serious thought to.


Do you have enough money to provide for your rats?

Rats need a fairly large cage (NOT a glass aquarium as they need maximum air ventilation). They also need accessories such as food bowls, drip water bottle, sleeping house, hammocks, toys etc. The minimum initial set up cost is about $200.


Rats also need good quality food, not the products that are sold in supermarkets as “rat mixes”. The ideal diet consists of a quality rat pellet, plus a variety of fresh foods. Please see the Diet Chapter in the AusRFS care book or contact us for advice.


Rats also need bedding material and a good quality litter, which is suitable for rats (we recommend Breeders Choice).


Are you willing to take good care of your rats?

Rats need to be kept inside the house, not in the backyard or shed. Rats are sensitive to heat, hot conditions can be fatal. So on hot days it’s very important they are kept cool. Their cage, food bowls etc will need to be cleaned and bedding and litter changed regularly.


Do you have time to spend with your rats?

Because rats are intelligent and form a close bond with their owners, they need time out of their cage and interaction with their human family every day. This should include the opportunity to stretch their legs, exercise and play or just explore around a room or large area, plus some quality time interacting with their owners, even if it’s just cuddling up on your lap while you read or watch TV. An hour of out of cage time per day would be the minimum.


If they get sick or injured will you to take them to a vet?

Most vets don’t know much about rats, so you may have to travel out of your local area to a vet who is experienced in treating them. If necessary you might also have to purchase medication. The AusRFS has a list of vets who are experienced in treating rats


Are you willing to keep more than one rat?

Rats require the company of at least one other rat (of the same sex or desexed). They are very social animals, and spend a lot of time grooming and interacting with each other. Keeping a pet rat in a cage on their own is like solitary confinement. Single rats are much more likely to be nervous and can suffer from depression. Two rats, will not be any more work or any less bonded to you, and will keep each other company when you can’t be with them. Watching rats, eat, sleep, groom and play together is one of the great joys of rat ownership.


Can you keep your rats safe from other pets?

In most cases other pets will need to be kept away from your rats.

Some people’s cats and dogs are friends with their rats, while others can’t even be trusted in the same room as the rats’ cage. So the level of interaction that can be allowed differs greatly between households. But please be aware that even a friendly dog can easily kill a rat accidentally while playing or even by stepping or sitting on it. As a general rule, other pets should be kept out of the room when your rats are out of their cage. It’s always best to err on the side of caution.


Can you handle some negative comments about your pets?

The word is slowly spreading and people are becoming more accepting of our unusual pets. But there will always be those who are negative, even rude and insulting when you tell them that you have pet rats. Some people are just plain scared of them and no matter how you try to tell them about your darling ratties, nothing will change their minds.


Joining the AusRFS can help there, you will find support and friendship of people that understand and care about rats as you do.


Can you handle the fact that rats have a short lifespan?

Although rats only live for 2-3 years, they pack those years with so much enthusiasm and love that it can be devastating to lose your beloved friend after such a short time. Rats can also grieve for the loss of their companion, especially if they’ve only been kept as a pair. So if you only have 2 rats, as they get older, it’s a good idea, to introduce a couple of young ones, so you are not left with a lonely single rat, when their friend dies. 


Are you willing to commit to 2-3 years of rat ownership?

Rats are extremely aware, social, loving animals, that bond very quickly with their new families. They are pack animals and once adopted they become part of your pack and you become their pack leader. They will look to you for all their needs - physical and emotional.



you can see the love, trust and even the hurt or grief in their eyes.

It isn't fair to lose interest after a while and abandon them.  

They still love you!  Can you promise not to let them down?


If you have answered NO to any of the above questions

then pet rats are probably not for you.

The AusRFS Rescue Service is constantly receiving

surrendered and abandoned rats from homes

where the owners have not thought through these issues.


If however you have answered YES to all the questions,

then perhaps you are one of those people

 who will be lucky enough to know the

love and joy that pet rats bring to our lives.


So read on . . .

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