In the Wild: Rats are one of the most numerous and widespread animals on the planet, living everywhere from cities to forests, deserts, marshlands, and more. Rats in the wild come in all shapes and sizes, and are as intelligent and adaptable as their domesticated cousins. They reside in almost every location on earth now, having hitched rides across oceans and seas centuries ago on boats, and have come to thrive in all kinds of ecosystems. Domestic rats are often descended from brown or black rats, which still live in the wild.
Feeding: Due to their omnivorous diet, it is important to feed your rat protein in addition to veggies and grains. The easiest way to achieve this is by feeding them rat blocks, which can be supplemented with treats such as fresh fruits and veggies. In addition to this, it is vital to allow your rat to have unrestricted access to fresh, natural Timothy hay. Timothy hay helps to maintain your rat’s digestive system, and must be provided along with rat blocks and produce.
Housing: As highly active and energetic creatures, it is important to provide your rat with plenty of space in its cage. The best rat cages have multiple levels and ramps, allowing your rat to explore, climb, and exercise throughout the day. Cages must be wire, to enable climbing as well as provide sufficient ventilation. Rats love to nest, which you can help by providing them with various materials they can create a nest out of (ex. hay, empty boxes, cloth, etc). While cedar bedding and hamster wheels should be avoided, feel free to fill your rat cage with rat-appropriate toys and houses.
Cleaning: In order to ensure your rat’s happiness and health, be sure to keep their house and environment clean. Rats require a bit more frequent cleaning than other small rodents, and must have their cages cleaned daily. Although this maintenance shouldn’t take longer than a few minutes a day, it is vital to keep up with, as rats can easily contract infections for uncleanly living conditions.
Be sure to talk with your vet about further rat health advice, or to answer any questions you may have.