American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2014 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Kids Q & A

10 Rat Questions

By Geri Hauser & Karen Robbins

Amanda Searson, IA
QMy name is Amanda Searson. I have been wanting to get a rat for 2 years going on 3 years this month. I got your address from a book by Debbie The Rat Lady Ducommun. I have a few questions that I would like answered about rats.

  1. What is the best brand food for rats? (Reggie Rat food, Kaytee, etc.) How much do you feed daily? (¼ cup, ½ cup, etc.)
  2. What are the best fruits and veggies for rats? How much and how often?
  3. What kind of toys do rats like?
  4. What kind of mineral chew does a rat need?
  5. What gender is more laid back, easy going, and loves to snuggle?
  6. Is it okay to have 1 rat or do they need at least another rat living with them?
  7. Would an anti-bacterial hand soap that is scented harm the pet rat or would it be safe?
  8. Do rats need certain vitamin supplements?
  9. Do rats eat any kind of hay?
  10. If a woman is pregnant, can she still handle and care for her pet rat(s)?

These are the only questions I have. Thanks for your time.

AYou can find several toys to make for rats in our Pet Projects section on the web site. Also, many people will use old kids toys/houses as houses for their rats or use in a playpen. You can also use parrot or ferret items such as wood chew toys or tunnels.

Rats don’t need mineral chews or vitamin supplements as long as they are fed a balanced healthy diet. Feeding a high quality lab block/pellet such as Teklad, Mazuri, or Purina (AFRMA sells the Teklad) will give them all the vitamins and minerals they need in the appropriate amount required for rats. They are fed these lab blocks free-choice meaning they have them in their cage at all times. You can read more about what rats need and in what amount in the article Nutritional Requirements in Rats. Rats also do not require a salt lick like rabbits.

Rats enjoy a variety of veggies and fruits such as carrots, raw broccoli, kale, bananas, apples, etc. They have small stomachs so the treat should be appropriately sized for them such as 1 baby carrot, a chunk of broccoli stem (they love the inside part), 1 inch piece of banana, one-sixteenth piece of apple, etc. You can give a couple items a day as treats. Treats are what they can eat in 5–10 minutes and should be no more than 10% of the diet. You can also give them healthy cereals, leftovers, dog biscuits, etc., but no junk food as it is not good for them even though they will eat it.

Males are generally the laid back, calmer of the sexes, although occasionally you will find a female that is like this. You always want to get at least two of the same sex as rats are very social animals and need a same-sex, same-species buddy to live with. One advantage with three is when they get old and one dies, you aren’t left with a single, lonely old rat.

Depends on what you are referring to on using the antibacterial soap? Are you asking if it is alright to use it for washing your hands before you handle the rats, use it on the rats if giving them a bath, or use it to clean the cages? If rats need a bath, then mild baby shampoo or cat shampoo would be best. Using soap and hot water (some people also bleach the cages) that is thoroughly rinsed off and dried or a disinfectant such as Nolovasan or Roccal-D are what is recommended to clean the cages. You can use plain soap and water to wash your hands before and after handling the rats. Scented soaps and other items can irritate a rat’s sensitive nose.

Rats won’t eat hay like rabbits but will chew on it and they like to use it for making a nest.

A pregnant woman should be able to handle rats and take care of them (it’s not the same as with cats), just remember to wash hands after handling the rats and cleaning the cage.

Our website has a lot of information that would also help you in learning more about rats. The Information Pages have lots of informative articles. *

July 15, 2017