General care

To stay happy and healthy, rats need:

Food & water

Rats need access to fresh food and clean, cool water at all times. See the food page for more details.


Rats need room to climb, run and play. Litter areas should be kept separate from sleeping and eating areas. The cage should have adequate ventilation, and no sharp edges or places where a foot or head could get caught. Some litters are toxic and should not be used - see the cages page.

Always supervise playtime!

Play time

Rats need time out of their cages to play and socialise with their owners. This ensures that they aren't bored, and keeps them healthy and happy. Rats love exploring, hiding and climbing. As long as they are supervised, rats should have at least an hour every day of "out time". It is important to move any electrical cords out of reach, and make sure that valuables are out of reach of ratty teeth.


One of the most important things about keeping rats is that you MUST have at least two (of the same sex). Rats are social animals, most active at night, when you are sleeping. If you only have one rat, then at nighttime they will have nobody to play with. Even if you play with your rat all day, and give her lots of toys, she still needs a friend. Make sure you keep same-sex pairs though, keeping a male and a female together is an irresponsible breeding practice.

Two rats will not take up any more room that one rat, and the difference in food is minimal. Some people worry that if you have two rats, they will not bother with their owners as much, but this is not true. In fact, the opposite is true - rats that live in groups are happier and friendlier.

Remember too that it is a myth that male rats cannot live in colonies. Males are actually very lazy, easygoing, and quiet rats. They rarely fight, and if there is any squabbling going on, you can guarantee that it is the girls and not the boys.

The three bucks in this photo are inseparable buddies!