What you should pay attention to when getting a rat

For centuries, rats were considered scruffy backyard animals and disease carriers. So completely they will probably not get rid of this image, because of course there are also today still enough free-living rats.

But as a very adaptable animal, the rat has a parallel career as a pet. And rightly so: domestic rats are people-oriented and playful and are therefore suitable as pets for both children and adults. But you should know that rats are mainly active at dusk and dawn. Like most rodents, the rat does not want to lead a solitary existence. Should absolutely be allowed to live together with at least one conspecific.

Acquisition of a rat

As already written, rats should be kept absolutely at least in pairs. Two animals are not much more expensive to keep than one and it is a real pleasure to see the animals interacting with each other.

Rats live together in large groups in the wild. Therefore, keeping 4-6 animals is usually even better than keeping them as a pair.

From our product guide

There are also different sources of supply for rats, which I would like to introduce to you below:

From the pet shop

For the beginner this is probably the most obvious way to go. However, since there are many unwanted rat babies, which are obtained through animal welfare or private mediation, it is not the best way for me personally. But later on.

If you should find in the pet store a resp. two rats want to acquire, you should pay attention to the following:

– The animals should be kept in sufficiently large cages. Rats are playful, they need a lot of space. The cages themselves should be clean, so there should be no rotten food leftovers or a lot of feces lying around. Fresh water should be available.

– The rats themselves should make a healthy impression. So have clear eyes and clean noses and anuses. The best time to buy rats is in the early evening, when the small rodents are most awake. So they should not lie lethargically in a corner.

– The rats should be kept separately by sexes. Once, so that they really get the sex that they want, secondly, so that unwanted pregnancies are avoided. And finally, the staff of the pet shop should be patient and helpful. Be able to expertly answer questions about keeping rats.

From the grower

In the meantime, there are many different colors and types of rats. The classical breeders breed rats according to their color differences or fur markings.

A reputable rat breeder will make sure that the rats are accustomed to everyday noises and people from an early age. If the breeding is done professionally, the breeders know very well about rats, send pictures regularly if you are interested and are still available for questions after the delivery.

From animal welfare

This is the way I would really like to recommend to anyone interested in rats. Small animals of all kinds are sitting in animal shelters by the thousands. They are often quickly acquired, but also quickly given away again. In addition, there are still heaps of unwanted offspring.

You can get both older and young rats at the animal shelter. These are usually veterinary cared for, so you can be sure to get a healthy animal. In addition, the shelter staff often already knows the characteristics of each animal, so that the right animal will be recommended to you.

Nevertheless, rats from the animal protection are not completely free of charge. Usually a "protection fee" is demanded, which is to prevent that the animals are taken carelessly or for dubious purposes from the homes. If you are interested in an animal from the animal protection, look nevertheless simply times on my animal protection sides.

From private

As said, there are always unwanted rat offspring. Often these animals are given to the animal shelter. However, some baby rat owners place the animals themselves. Mostly they advertise in regional gazettes. This is quite a good way to get the animals. You should only pay attention to the external circumstances, which I have also listed at the pet store.

Since you should not expect any expert advice here, you should read up on rats beforehand. Just as far as the sex differences are concerned, so that they really get the sexes they want.

Rat – cage furnishing

Rats should always be kept at least in pairs. Therefore, the following specifications apply to two animals.


The cage should be placed neither in a very warm place (i.e. in front of heaters or in front of a window with strong sunlight) nor in drafts. Since rats like to participate in family life, you can put the cage quietly in the living room or nursery. The only condition is that in the room in question is not too loud music and also not smoking.


The bigger the better. Rats are very active, they like to climb, dig and run. For two animals I would recommend a minimum size of 1 m high, 1 m wide and approx. Specify 80 cm depth.

You should include several levels in the cage so that the rats can climb or rest on a raised platform. Special rat cages or cages for rodents usually already have several levels when purchased. Alternatively are suitable z. B. Bird aviaries, in which the levels themselves can be installed. In rabbit cages, especially for young rats, the bars are too far apart, the animals could escape.

The interior

Commercially available small animal litter is suitable as bedding. Somewhat better are hemp litter, corn litter, boxwood granules or untreated wood shavings. It should be ensured that the bedding is not too dusty. The respiratory tract of rats can be very sensitive to this. For nest building, you can put a few pieces of kitchen paper or toilet paper in the cage for the rats.

Then a water bottle, which is fastened outside at the cage, belongs naturally to it. And one or two food bowls. Preferably made of ceramic, which is easy to clean and cannot be knocked over so easily.

Then of course you need a sleeping house. If you have several rats, you should also have several sleeping houses. These can be bought in stores or easily built yourself from chipboard. It is important that they are spacious enough and that the entrance hole is large enough. It should be possible to remove the lid for cleaning.

For occupation you can still strong ropes, roots (from the terrarium supplies) or z. B. install large clay tubes in the cage. Rats quickly become tame. Are usually then very affectionate. They are happy about human contact. Should therefore not have to spend their whole day in the cage. One hour of supervised free running per day should be given to the little rodents. Very special attention should be paid to open power cables, which like to be gnawed on. rats are also quite happy to be carried around on the shoulder or arm.

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