Fancy Rats


A new pet can be a fantastic companion, but sometimes the novelty can wear off (some pets live for a very long time). You may find that regular cleaning, feeding and handling becomes a time consuming chore.

Please try to handle and play with your pet as often as possible, you will find that you will be rewarded with a much happier and friendlier pet.

If you are not 100% sure that you or your children will be able to give your pet the attention that it needs then please think twice.

Fancy rats can make excellent pets. They can be very active with great personalities. If raised and handled properly they’ll be your friends for life. Here are a few tips to get your pets started in their new home.

Rats are sociable animals and should live with other rats. Litter mates of the same sex are advisable, although rats can be mixed at any age it is best to introduce them before they are fully grown, which is 12 weeks of age.

Fancy rats are crepuscular which means they are awake on and off throughout the day and night, and they have a life expectancy of 2 to 3 years, but have been known to live much longer.


Check their food and water twice a day, making sure you clean any droppings and woodchips out of their food bowl.

Clean the cage thoroughly at least once a week with petsafe disinfectant. Make sure you clean everything your pet touches. A cage with two pets may need cleaning twice a week. Use a litter scoop to make this easier.

Allow your pets to settle in for 24 hours before handling them for the first time. Play with your fancy rats as often as possible, when handling them be gentle and stay close to the floor. A member of staff will show you how. Exercise is essential, let them have a supervised run around indoors as often as possible.

Keep them indoors out of direct sunlight, in a room with a steady temperature and no draughts. A bedroom or lounge is ideal.

We recommend: Johnsons Clean N Safe Small Animal.


Do not feed LETTUCE or AVOCADO SKIN or STONE as these can be harmful, but you can give your rats small amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables several times a week. It is recommended that you do not feed vegetables from the onion family, such as leaks/spring onions etc; as well as Citrus fruits, these are also not advised to be fed due to their toxicity.  

Do not pick fancy rats up by their tails as it hurts them.

Do not keep them near televisions or stereos as these can produce high frequency sounds that will irritate them.

Do not use aerosol cans near them as they can produce toxic fumes.

Toys are essential in the domestic rats environment – they need mental and physical enrichment provided by plenty of things for them to do. Items such as rope ladders, hammocks and tubes are perfect examples for providing environment enrichment for your rats.

Potential Health Problems

Overgrown teeth
Fancy rats can suffer with overgrown teeth that may have to be clipped by a veterinary surgeon. Always make sure there is plenty of gnawing material available.

We recommend: Rosewood Naturals – Wellness Gnaw Stone (1).

Fancy rats can get mites and lice in their fur, there are small animal mite sprays to treat this.

Respiratory problems
Fancy rats can contract respiratory problems. This may be caused by stress brought on by change of environment. If the breathing sounds crackly your animal may need to be checked by a veterinary surgeon. This can usually be treated with antibiotics.

We recommend: Johnsons Small Animal Insect Spray Extra.

Weekly Health Check

  • Is underneath the tail clean?

  • Do they have all their toes and nails? Are they clean and not overgrown?

  • Do the legs move freely with no staggering or stiffness?

  • Are the teeth present? Are they straight and not overgrown?

  • Is the nose clean with no discharge?

  • Are the eyes bright and clear?

  • Stroke the ears; are they smooth and clean?

  • Is the fur clean with no bald patches or parasites?

  • Blow in the fur; the skin should be healthy not red, dry or flaky.

  • Feel the body. Is it fat enough? It should not feel bloated or bony.

  • Listen to the chest. Is the breathing almost silent with no wheezing?

If you answered no to any of the above your pets may require veterinary attention.

What They'll Need

  • Cage: Fancy rats need a lot of room. The minimum suggested cage size for 2 rats is 72cm x 36cm x 44cm, however the bigger the better is always recommended to enable a good space for enrichment using toys/accessories, as well as plenty of room to exercise and climb.  The bars should be no more than 17mm apart or they may get their heads stuck or escape.

  • House: They need a house in their cage so that they can hide away and sleep in peace.

  • Substrate: Use plenty of substrate like Carefresh, hemp or non wood pellets in the bottom of the cage, this will soak up urine and protect their feet (if the cage has a wire floor, take it out).

  • Bedding: It is important that you only use an animal safe bedding, which should be placed in their house.

  • Water bottle: Make sure your pets can reach the spout, and refill it daily to monitor their drinking.

  • Food bowl: Stainless steel or ceramic are best, as they are hygienic and can’t be chewed.

  • Food: Fancy rats are omivores, so should be fed a complete rat mix. It is vital that animals are weaned gradually onto any new food.

  • Wood gnaws: Like all rodents your pets’ teeth grow continuously, gnaws are essential to keep their teeth trim.

  • Treats: Feed treats every now and then, but not too often.

  • Toys: Are vital to keep your pets active and stimulated.