Rats are an extremely popular choice among many first time pet owners for a variety of reasons. These reasons can be anything from how easy it is reputed to take care of rats, to how cute some of them are, to even as simple of a reason as they are fairly inexpensive. Whatever the reason, before you go out and purchase a new pet rat, you need to understand the basics. Understanding the basic care of rats isn't all that difficult, and can help prepare you for larger pets.
- Know the breed. It's always a good idea to learn as much as you can about the specific breed of animal that you plan on having as a pet. Just as different types of cats, dogs, birds, and fish all have different needs, so to do rats. Most of this information can be found at your local pet store, or even at your local library without too much trouble.
- Get the equipment. There are a couple pieces of equipment that you really need to have as the owner of a pet rat. The first is a good, sturdy cage that has plenty of room in it. Generally speaking, rats love to climb jump and explore, so this should be something that is around three square feet in size, with a couple of floors. Make sure that the bars of the cage are nice and tight, that you use paper or cloth bedding (don't use wood chips since it can hurt your rats), and that you have plenty of toys for your rats to play with.
- Get the food. Rats will generally need more than just seeds or nuts. Make sure that whatever brand of food that you purchase has corn as one of the primary ingredients. This will help ensure that the diet is really balanced and not to heavily burdened with protein.
- One is never enough. Rats are communal creatures and as such require companionship. In fact, rats are such communal creatures that many stores and breeders will not even allow you to purchase only one. The simple reason for this is that if a rat is alone, it can very easily become sick or depressed, and end up dying.
- Play time is good. Spend lots and lots of time playing with your rats. This will help them to bond with you, while also keeping them entertained. Not only will this allow your rats to get to know you better, but it will also help keep them in a better mood, and get them used to being handled.
- Regular cleaning is a must. Despite what many people like to think, or is even portrayed in popular media, rats are very clean creatures. This means that you will need to keep your rats' cage as clean as possible, so much so that you would not be out of line to do a daily spot check. At the very least you should be cleaning the cages on a weekly basis. Do not forget to do this, or you will very easily see some good rats go bad.