Skip to main content

5 Tips for Giving Your Pet Rat a Great Life

Ricky Rodson has owned and operated a rabbit rescue for nearly 17 years. I have experience with all different types of rabbits and rodents.

Learning how to give your pet rat a good life is easier than you think.

Learning how to give your pet rat a good life is easier than you think.

Best Care for Rats

Most people who own rats would like to give them the best care possible and to have a good life. The problem is that most first-time rat owners have no idea how to actually do this in the right way. It is a good first step that you are looking for help online and not just "winging it."

To help you understand how to give your pet rat the best life possible, I have broken down the best way to do so into five easy-to-follow tips.

5 Tips for Giving Your Rat the Best Life

  • Toys and entertainment
  • Healthy diet
  • Companionship
  • Veterinary care
  • Love

Toys and Entertainment

Most doctors agree that entertainment can be just as important to life as eating or drinking. Without it, rats, just like us, can quickly lose the will to endure and sink into a state of depression.

So to prevent your pet rats from becoming sad and bored of life, you have to keep them as amused as possible. This can be easily done by providing them with all sorts of toys that can be easily made at home or purchased online.

Types of Rat Toys

  • Chew toys: Rats actually have to chew things to grind down their front teeth. Giving them plenty of wood toys to chew on will keep them entertained while also performing these necessary actions.
  • Climbable toys: As you might have assumed, rats love to climb. Keep your rats happy by providing them with all sorts of ladders and bridges to climb on.
  • Tunnels: Because of their sneaky nature, rats love to hide. Tunnels are great for rats because they provide them with both obstacles for running around their cage and a place to hide if something alarms them.

Healthy Diet

One of the most overlooked aspects of giving your rat the best life possible is feeding them the right foods. A proper diet will not only keep your little family of rodents in the best health, but also keep them happy with life in general.

A rat's diet should consist mainly of commercial food pellets but occasionally you can treat your furry friend with some fresh human food. For people that have never owned a rat before, learning which foods they can and cannot eat is a process, but once mastered, it's easily accomplished.

Foods Safe for Rats To Eat


  • Apples
  • Cherries
  • Grapes
  • Bananas
  • Berries
  • Melons


  • Broccoli
  • Potatoes
  • Carrot
  • Cooked sweet potato
  • Kale
  • Parsley
  • Squash

Other Foods

  • Breakfast cereals
  • Yogurt
  • Brown rice
  • Cooked liver
  • Wheat pasta
  • Leftovers


Just like people, rats need constant social interaction to remain happy and in high spirits. And while we all believe we'll be able to show our pets enough attention, the truth is, the responsibilities of our lives will always find a way to prevent it from happening.

Luckily, there is an easy fix for this. All you need to do is get multiple rats. Paired rats will eventually form a lifelong bond and become almost inseparable from one another. And while your pets will always love you, they will be able to provide comfort for one another that you simply cannot.

Another added benefit of companionship for rats is an increased feeling of safety. When amongst members of their own kind, rats tend to feel more at ease with their surroundings.

Veterinary Care

Just because rats have a short life span doesn't mean they should be taken to the veterinarian any less than other pets. Veterinarians are trained to look for issues that cannot be detected by the human eye and may be able to extend the life of your rat.

Unfortunately, rats are prone to all sorts of respiratory diseases and are more likely to develop tumors than other small pets. By taking your little friends for regular checkups, you can ensure they are not living in pain.


Rats are very emotional creatures and capable of sensing when you are angry with them. So one of the most important things you can do for your pet rat is to love it. Always be sure to show your rat as much love and affection as possible to ensure it has the best life. If you do this, everything else comes naturally.

Ways To Show Your Rat You Love It

  • Cuddling: The best way to show your pet rat you love them is cuddling with them. Rats love cozy spots and will love spending time with you as you watch TV or read a book.
  • Petting: Like most other animals, rats love being pet. A simple way to show your rat you care is by taking some time to scratch their heads whenever you notice them.
  • Kissing: Another way to show your rat you love it is by kissing them on the head. Rats are smart animals and will understand this to be your version of a lick. You'll be amazed at how happy they get after you kiss them.
  • Treats: Rats love to eat. Show your rats you love them by providing them with an array of delicious foods. Unlike other animals, rats have a much larger range of foods they can eat. So anytime you get something you like, consider saving them a bite.
Rats express their happiness in different ways than other animals.

Rats express their happiness in different ways than other animals.

How Do You Tell If Your Rat Is Happy?

Because pet rats are unable to speak it can be difficult to gauge whether or not they are truly happy. But just because rats can't speak doesn't mean they are unable to show us how they are feeling.

Ways Rats Show Happiness

  • Bruxing: When happy, rats will typically grind their teeth together. This grinding can cause soft but noticeable chattering noises like the ones you make when you are cold.
  • Boggling: Eye-popping is a sensation in rats that often comes hand-in-hand with chattering. When chattering hard enough, the rat's eyes will begin to gently bounce within the socket. This is just a side effect of grinding their teeth too hard.
  • Licking: Rats are extremely affectionate animals. And when they love you they will often let you know by licking you profusely anytime you pet or hold them.
  • Cuddling: A happy rat is a cuddly rat. Happy rats love to cuddle up in a cozy place and relax. If you and your rat share cuddle sessions often, you can assume you have a happy rat.
Rat owners need to be on the lookout for signs of sadness.

Rat owners need to be on the lookout for signs of sadness.

How Do You Tell If Your Rat Is Sad?

Another thing you should always keep your eyes open for when you own a pet rat is signs of depression. Like most animals, when they're sad, rats exhibit certain behaviors. These behaviors are useful for their owners to detect the animal's emotions even though it is unable to speak.

Ways Rats Show Sadness

  • Excessive biting: Sad rats will also begin to show signs of increased aggression with biting and chewing things. If your pet rat begins to bite you more often than normal, you should consider taking it to the veterinarian.
  • Lethargy: When depressed, rats often become unmotivated by life; because of this they will become lethargic and sleep most of the day.
  • Lack of appetite: Depressed or sad rats will often begin to have a decreased appetite due to their bodies releasing stress-induced hormones.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2022 Ricky Rodson