CARING FOR YOUR RAT

Housing

   Rats like to gnaw, so a cage made of wire with a plastic bottom, or an aquarium with a mesh roof is recommended.

   Ventilation is very important as the build-up of ammonia from the rat's urine can lead to the development of respiratory disease.

   Cages should be cleaned frequently and all uneaten food and faeces removed daily.

    A form of absorbent bedding and nesting material such as shredded newspaper should be provided.

    A shelter for hiding and sleeping is necessary this can be achieved by the use of a plastic house from a pet store or a piece of plastic drain pipe (both are easy to clean).

    Rats are intelligent animals and will enjoy supervised out of cage play as well as a variety of toys such as tunnels, boxes and ladders.

Feeding

    A balanced diet is important for your rat. A commercial rodent diet should be made available occasionally. Seed diets are commonly offered to rats but these contain high fat and low calcium and should only be offered as a treat.

    Ideally, each day your rat should be supplied with a balanced selection of fresh vegetables and fruit such as peas, beans, corn, carrots, broccoli, apple, grapes, etc.

    Other foods you can serve in small amounts 1-2 times a week include pasta, rice, toast, eggs, chicken and other meats.

    To prevent diarrhoea a gradual introduction of new foods is recommended rather than a sudden change.

    Fresh water should be available at all times.

 

Health Care

    Book a 6 monthly check-up to detect general health problems.

     Respiratory disease, generally caused by bacterial or viral infection, is one of the most common problems in rats.

    "Red tears" are produced as a non-specific response to stress such as pain and/or illness and these dry around the eyes and nose. The underlying cause should be investigated by your veterinarian as they often indicate a chronic underlying disease.

    Mammary tumours are common in rats.

     Many rats enjoy a bath but supervise them at all times and ensure they are dryed thoroughly afterwards. Frequent bathing may strip the skin of essential oils and cause skin problems.

    Other skin problems such as mite infestation may also occur.

 

 

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