St Martins Veterinary Clinic
St Martins Veterinary Clinic

Caring for Rats



For some people the very thought of rats makes them shiver. In fact rats are generally friendly, clean and intelligent animals that make excellent pets. Rats can be kept in groups if they are brought up together but strangers may fight.

Like all rodents, rats have continually growing teeth that need to be worn down and wooden gnawing blocks should be provided. Rats should be housed in a strong wire cage with a wire floor or they will quickly gnaw their way out. Once habituated to their surroundings and their owner however, they can usually be allowed to roam freely in a secure room and will make themsleves at home. They often like nothing better than snoozing in a hammock slung on a warm radiator! Rats are inquisitive and very active and need lots of toys and obstacles to keep them occupied.

A commercially available rat food is ideal but it can be supplemented with a large number of other foods - rats are omnivorous and can eat almost anything. Care should be taken though to make sure that their diet doesn't become unbalanced or that that they don't overeat. Fresh water should be available at all times. It is traditional to line cages with sawdust and woodshavings but in reality, newspaper is cleaner and more convenient and your rat will be kept occupied for a long time busily shredding paper for bedding. Rats are naturally very clean creatures and will often use one place for their toilet area, and do not smell so long as they are cleaned out regularly.

Rats may need worming when first bought but like most other small pets, if they are healthy to start with, are unlikely to catch infectious diseases if they don't come into contact with other rats. They do occasionally suffer from mites which can usually be treated with a special product available from us. Teeth and claws should be regularly checked for signs of overgrowth. Tumours are very common in rats as they are in most small pets but rats tolerate surgery very well so dealt with early this can be curative.


Rat Quick Stats: lifespan 3 - 4 years; weaning at 3 - 4 weeks; sexual maturity 8 - 10 weeks; gestation 20 - 22 days; average litter size 10 (6 - 16).


St Martins Veterinary Clinic

126 Station Road  

West Drayton


Tel.: 01895 444400

        01895 445144


Fax: 01895 431520




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