Food & Treats

I feed our rats a steady diet of Mazuri rat food (Oxbow if it's donated). I also give various types of treats on occassion, including live mealworms, yogurt drops, black oil sunflower seeds, Gerber Puffs, and cereal (Cheerios, Shredded Wheat, Rice Krispies). They enjoy pancakes made from the crumbs of their Mazuri and fresh fruits and veggies from our garden. I encourage you to research additional food items that have various health benefits for your rats. It's important to note your rats' current age, sex, and health. For example, younger rats need more protein in their diets, while aging rats need less. Males should not have lots of citrus. Tumors feed off fat. There are also lots of awesome ideas out there for homemade dry food mix, treats, and cookies. Good and Bad Food List

Cage Setup and Housing

My favorite cage is the Double Critter Nation as it provides plenty of room and has large doors so you can reach every corner of the cage easily. You can check Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, local buy/sell/trade groups, and various other websites and apps to find one. Rat Cage Size Calculator - just plug in your cage dimensions and see how many rats can be housed there comfortably! It's important to give your rats plenty of enrichment items. Places like Dollar Tree and thrift stores provide lots of cheap options for baskets, toys, and hides. Rats love comfy places to sleep, like hammocks, that can be found on Amazon or Etsy. Make sure any toys or treats do not have timothy or alfalfa hay. Rats cannot digest these, although they do love some grass hay or oat hay to nest in! Another important thing to note about housing is bedding. There are several different types of bedding, and it may take some trial and error to figure out what works best for you. I prefer Aspen! *Fleece liners should always have a layer of absorbent fabric (such as Uhaul furniture moving pads) to absorb urine and be thoroughly washed with hot water before use. *Wood bedding should be aspen or kiln-dried pine. *Shredded paper bedding should be low-dust and baking soda free. Here's a great article about bedding options.

Introducing New Rats

This is more of an issue with males than it is females, but is still important to talk about. There are many great tips and tricks on introducing a new rat to your mischief. Please check out these links for great insight: Basic Introduction Procedures Introducing Rats Successfully

Common Medical Issues & Local Vets

Here is a list of known rat vets in the area. If you have one that you use and trust, please e-mail us at dfwratrescue@gmail.com and let us know so we can add it! Rats have a variety of medical issues that an owner should look out for. PLEASE reach out to me if you are needing help with a rat you've adopted from me. Exotic rat vets can be expensive and I *may* be able to help. I encourage you to research and bookmark some reference sites so you can access them if/when a problem comes up. Here is a great resource for common illnesses. And another link to signs of illness to look out for. Respiratory & Heart Issues

Dealing with Aggression

First, take a look at this article to determine how your rat is using their teeth. Rats can show aggression when they are scared, injured, or just unsocialized. Here's a great video on how to handle rat aggression when it is rat-on-rat. Here is another article. When the aggression is rat-on-human, please check out this video. You can try making a high-pitched "eep" sound when they start to nibble, to show them it hurts (like with puppies). Here is a great resource on identifying the cause of your rat's aggression. Please email me if you are having aggression issues with your rat and I may be able to help!

Bonding with Your Rat

Bonding with your new rat can be a process. As with dogs and cats, rescue rats come from a variety of backgrounds where they may have received tons or very little attention and socialization. Please don't give up on them! Here is a great resource with tips and ideas for bonding with your new pet. Here is another site with some additional tips and tricks. Rats should be handled confidently and securely. Do not handle a timid rat in their cage - take them out and hold them for awhile or put them on the bed and let them come to you. Reaching into a cage to a scared rat will frequently result in a bite.