Guide to Caring for Rats
Keeping your rat healthy and happy requires the correct choice of rat bedding, cage and food, and an awareness of their specific needs. Rats are very intelligent animals and great fun to have as pets, but they cannot be toilet trained and so do require use of a suitable rat litter to help suppress odours in your home. Here we consider how to go about choosing the right rat bedding, selecting a suitable cage and how best to feed your rat.
Rat Bedding - click here to buy SmartBedz from our online shop
Selecting the Right Rat Bedding/Litter
Choosing the right rat bedding / litter will benefit both you and your pet. Rats depend greatly on their sense of smell for detecting food and humans. They dislike overpowering odours, such as ammonia, which is unpleasant for the rat and will disrupt their sense of smell. That is why they need highly absorbent litter with excellent odour suppression qualities such as SmartBedz.
SmartBedz is an entirely natural form of bedding/litter that works by drawing wetness away from the surface, preventing oxidisation, which is the main cause of odour. It does not contain any scent or other materials to mask smells, which is also disliked by rats. It is a non-toxic, organic product made from pulverised straw pellets, so is completely safe and pleasant to use.
Rat Litter to Avoid
Types of rat litter to avoid include some types of wood based litters, such as those based on pine or cedar – as these are dusty and have natural oils which can cause respiratory problems.
Clay based litters which are used for cats are also too dusty for rodents who use their nose to forage for food. Clumping clay litters should not be used as they are hazardous to animals with small lungs and tiny nasal passages.
Sawdust, which is traditionally used for bedding and litter, can cause irritation, so is also a bad choice of rat bedding for your new pet.
SmartBedz is an ideal solution as the dust has been extracted and the resulting product compressed into pellets.
Keeping Your Cage Clean and Dry
Keeping your rat’s cage dry is vital for the health of your pet. SmartBedz pellets can absorb up to four times their volume of liquid, so it can keep your pet dry and comfortable for a long time.
SmartBedz rat litter can be spot-cleaned daily by scooping out the saturated areas which are easily identifiable by the swollen pellets. Depending on your rat, it may go to the toilet in the same place, or in different places around the cage.
When the cage begins to smell you will need to carry out a more thorough clean which also means removing toys and nesting boxes.
SmartBedz is a cost effective choice of rat litter, as the ability to spot clean soiled areas means that less litter is used overall.
Disposing of Your Rat Litter
SmartBedz is very easy to dispose of. Just put it in the garden and use as compost or flush it in small quantities down the toilet.
Rat Litter - click here to buy SmartBedz from our online shop.
Finding a suitable cage for a rat
Rats are intelligent animals and the bigger the cage the better. It is best to avoid aquariums as rats like to climb. Aquariums also have solid sides which does not allow the air to circulate properly in the cage. This can mean a build-up of ammonia from rat urine which should be avoided for the reasons mentioned above.
A cage with bars is most suitable as rats love to use the bars to climb up. You can also fix toys to the bars to provide your pet with an environment that is stimulating and entertaining. Place the toys high up in the cage and when it comes to giving the cage a thorough clean, change the order around to provide your rats with something new to explore. Rats are very inquisitive creatures and will love to discover what you have done.
When it comes to choosing your wire cage, make sure the wires are not spaced too far apart so your rat can escape. Ideally choose one with a solid floor, so it is more comfortable for your rat to run around on. This will mean that the rat will be in regular contact with your chosen bedding so select a rat bedding that is non-toxic and dust free, such as SmartBedz.
Your rat’s cage should be kept in a draught free area away from the light and should have plenty of nesting material. They are nocturnal creatures so is a good idea to avoid disruptive cleaning during the daytime. This can be a problem for frequent cleaning, which is why SmartBedz is a great product for your pet. Just replace the enlarged pellets with dry ones, until a more meticulous clean is needed.
Rats are very sociable creatures; they can get used to being handled and playing with you and can even be trained to do certain tricks. They also enjoy each other’s company and will chase each other and bed down together, so it is best to have a cage big enough for more than one.
What should I feed my pet rat?
Like humans, rats are omnivores which means they eat many different types of food. They can eat wholemeal bread, grains, vegetables (such as peas and carrots), fruits (including apple or banana), lean meat and dog food.
If you feed your rats a grain mixture, they will pick out the best bits to eat first. As this will not help your rats achieve a balanced diet, it is best to give them only a small quantity each time and leave the bowl in the cage until all or most of it has gone.
Pellets can be a healthy part of your pet’s diet but can become monotonous if it is the only thing you feed them. It is best to provide a mix of extruded pellets and grains and give them fruit, vegetables and meat as treat. Avoid giving your rats too much fruit and vegetables as this can upset their stomachs.
Some owners like to give their mice commercially available treats on occasion. The quantities should be very small - just a few a week is plenty.
Finally, always make sure there is plenty of clean, fresh water for your rat to drink. Hydration is vital so give your rats fresh water daily and scrub out the bottle at least once a week.
Looking After Your Pet Rats
Rats have a life-span of about two to three years. Make sure you give your pet plenty of attention to ensure it is healthy and happy.
These rodents can experience different ailments. If your rat does have symptoms that cause you concern, it is best to seek advice and guidance from your local vet who will advise you on how to treat your pet.
Consult your vet if your rat has laboured breathing, a dishevelled coat, discharge from the eyes, loses interest in food, does not want attention, or has any other symptoms that cause you concern.
Rat Litter - click here to buy SmartBedz from our online shop.