American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

Kids’s Guide to Basic Pet Rat & Mouse Care

By Nichole Royer

Kid with rat

Give Your Pets a Happy Home

Rats and mice need homes of their own. Plastic and glass aquariums make great places for mice to live. Rats need a little more room since they are bigger. Large aquariums and wire cages are great for rats. Just make sure your cage doesn’t have a wire floor or shelves. Rats can get their legs caught and hurt themselves.

Rats and mice don’t like to be in a draft and they don’t like too much sunlight. Find a place for your furry friend’s home where it’s protected from cold air and the sun.

Toys are a great way to make your critter’s home much more interesting. You can buy toys at the pet store or make your own. Mice love to play and sleep in toilet paper tubes, and Kleenex boxes make perfect mouse houses. Rats need bigger toys. A shoe box makes a great ratty play house and a big piece of rope tied across their cage makes the perfect ratty bridge. You can come up with lots of other great toys for your critters, just use your imagination!


A Clean Cage With Fresh Food And Water

Rats and mice hate it when their house is dirty. Make sure to clean your pet’s cage at least once a week. Wash it out and put in fresh bedding. Never use cedar or pine shavings though . . . they’ll make your rat or mouse sick. Good things to use instead are aspen shavings, CareFRESH™, and Gentle Touch™.

It’s very important to always have clean water and fresh food for your pet. If they don’t have these things they can get sick. Check your rat or mouse’s food and water every day to make sure they have plenty.

The best way to give your pet water is with a water bottle. You can buy these bottles at the pet store. Don’t give your rat or mouse water in a dish. The water will get dirty, and your pet will get wet!

There are lots of different kinds of food for rats and mice. The best kind is called Lab Blocks. Make sure that your rat or mouse always has a bowl full of food that’s made just for them.


Special Treats

Rats and mice love special treats. Some of their favorites are things that I bet you like too! Just remember, rats and mice have little tiny tummies. Don’t give them too many treats, it’ll spoil their dinner.

Fruit is a great treat. Rats and mice love to eat apples, bananas, peaches, strawberries, and grapes. They also love vegetables like carrots, kale, cucumbers, beans, and broccoli. Which ones do your critters like best?

Rats and mice love to eat lots of other things too. Spaghetti noodles with sauce, pizza crust, wheat bread, and even healthy breakfast cereal. Anything that’s good for you to eat is probably good for your critter too.

Junk food is a no no! Rats and mice can get sick from eating junk food even though they love the taste. Never let your critter eat candy, cookies, chips, soda, gum, chocolate, or cheese. If it’s not good for you, it’s not good for your pet.


And Lots And Lots Of Love

Rats and mice are great pets. They quickly learn to recognize their owner and will come running out to visit when they see you.

Always be gentle when holding your rat or mouse. Our furry friends don’t like to be squeezed, poked, or dropped. They are very little and can get scared.

Mice are very friendly. Once they get used to you they will happily sit on your hand to be petted. They also love to ride around in big pockets (be careful — don’t squish them).

Rats are very smart. Some people have taught them tricks like coming to their name and walking on a tight rope. There are even rats that play basketball!

Rats love to snuggle and be petted. Some even give kisses! Lots of rats like to ride on their owner’s shoulders. Others prefer pockets or purses. *

Lots of love



NO cedar or pine as they contain toxins and cause organ damage and respiratory disease.

Hardwood Beddings:
  • Sani-Chips® [P.J. Murphy Forest Products Corp. 1-800-631-1936] (Aspen Chips)
  • Aspen Shavings [Northeastern Products Corp., Warrensburg, NY, also in Caspian, MI, Columbia, KY]
  • Shredded Aspen [Aspen Bedding, Harlan 1-800-4-TEKLAD] [Aspen Bed I, American Excelsior Company (817) 640-1555]
Paper Products:
  • CareFRESH™ [Absorption Corporation 1-800-242-2287]
  • ALPHA-dri [Shepherd Specialty Papers 1-800-382-5001]
Pelleted Beddings:

See the AFRMA Links page for more bedding options.

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Updated May 9, 2020