Diet: Your rats need to have fresh, clean water available all the time. Water bottles sold for rodents are perfect. Glass water bottles are best, to prevent possible gnawing. Rats have incisor teeth that grow continuously. These little guys need to have something to chew on, to wear the teeth down. Chew-toys are good for this. Readily available rat food that is high quality is good for their primary diet. Add pieces of fresh fruit, raw or cooked vegetables, bits of left-over meat from your own meals, breakfast cereal, spoonfuls of hummus and yogurt, bits of cheese, and so on. If it is a healthy snack for you, it’s probably a healthy snack for your rat.
Housing: Pet rats are pretty comfortable in most home situations. They are great pets for families with children, and they are relatively easy to take care of. Rats need to explore. Within the cage, give your little guys boxes and tubes to crawl. Some rats enjoy an exercise wheel and some don’t. If you decide to buy one for your pet, be sure it is a large one. Most of them are too small for rats. If he needs to bend his back at all, it is too small. If it is made of wire, it is unsafe because feet and tails will get caught in the gaps. There are a few solid-plastic wheels suitable for rats. They will also need a sleeping den to feel safe and secure within their habitat.
The bedding materials you choose for your rats can make the difference between a long, healthy life for your pets and a short, sickly one. It’s that important. Avoid any bedding made from softwood. Cedar shavings, spruce shavings, and pine shavings are all bad. Birch is bad, too. Never, ever use them in your pet’s enclosures. Instead, choose paper-based bedding or aspen shavings if you must use wood. Clumping litters should be avoided for the same reason they should not be used for kittens: sometimes litter gets swallowed, and clumping litter expands in the stomach. You will also need a heavy ceramic bow for food and a glass water bottle. Tunnels and tubes are great for your pet rat to explore. A sleeping/hiding den will help your pet feel safe and secure at night.