top of page

New Pet Rat Guide

New to pet rats? 

This guide is just a very basic informational starting point for rats. Most of this info can be found in greater detail across my site.

Are rats for me?

The biggest consideration with any pet is if you have the money/resources, time, energy, commitment, and stability.  Things to consider are:

  • Expense

Rats can seem inexpensive, but it is a weekly/monthly commitment for supplies. And things can happen unexpectedly like illness or injury. Rats are considered an exotic pet for vets and so they need to be an exotic vet in order to see them and this comes with a higher fee in most cases. A simple vet visit may cost much more than you think for such a small animal, even as much as it would for a dog if not more.

  • Living Arrangements

Do you own or rent? Not all landlords will allow rats. If you plan to move or go to school within the next 3-4 years that is something to consider.

  • Time/Energy

Pets are a responsibility. If you are super busy with work/school/hobbies, etc... They not only need attention but every day they need to be fed and given fresh water, every week their cage needs to be cleaned. This also means being self-aware of any health issues you may have that may get in the way, mental or physical. Cleaning a cage can be quite a chore and even on our worst days the rats still need care.

  • Commitment/Stability

How stable is your life right now? Will you be moving, going to school? Are you prepared to take on the responsibility of a pet for 3/4 years?

What are pet rats like?

Really just like any pet. They require care, love, and attention. Rats are very intelligent animals and while they are a caged pet they are more like that of a cat or dog. They can be taught tricks. They enjoy attention. Babies can be a bit active and hyper and not really sit still too much but as they age they can be more snuggly, it depends on the individual. 

Rats are very inquisitive, they like to explore and check things out. They will often sit on your shoulder or in a hoodie but they generally want to be where the action is and see whats going on. They require a lot of mental stimulation. Having a really good fun packed cage can help with that. If you want to let them out to play you can as well, but for their safety, they should have a cage and only be allowed out supervised. The area needs to be rat-proofed, no spaces they can sneak under or in (their cage bar spacing needs to be no more than 1/2" so you can imagine they can get through some little holes), nothing for them to chew or destroy. 

  • They bathe themselves like a cat and do not require baths, and really shouldn't get one unless it is very important.
     

  • They do mark and may pee and poop where ever they like.  You can with time, somewhat litter train them and they may not potty on you but they still do mark. Rats do have a thing called "fear poops" this is when they are a bit uncomfortable, stressed or scared they go potty. This is a bit more gross and wetter than normal. When you first get a rat it may be an issue until they adjust to their new home and you, not all rats will do it at all though.
     

  • They tend to be more active in the evening and dawn. You can train them to be on a good schedule with routine - feeding them/playing them at the same time every day. I find they tend to be cat like and are up and hyper then nap off and on through the day. An issue is that they may keep you up at night. The water bottle at night is often an annoyance lol Keeping them in your bedroom may cause issues for light sleepers.
     

  • Rats do not really have an odor, the same as dog or a cat they are an animal but it isn't bad. Urine and feces though of course do not small good. Neither does my cats litter box if I do not clean it. Having the proper bedding, cage, and cleaning on a good schedule before it smells is the key.

Should I get males or females?

It is really personal preference. And it is important to remember that these are just generalities, every rat is unique and an individual.

I generally suggest males for homes with younger children. Males are larger and tend to be lazier which makes them easier for children to handle. 

Males:

  • Larger than females

  • You can definitely notice their boy parts (testicles), they are rather large & can be off-putting to some.

  • Are more likely to mark (pee) on you and everything else.

  • They are often more lazy and relaxed/chill than females. Males do tend to slow down quicker/younger than females.

  • Still, have to be kept in pairs or larger groups

  • Have an orange secretion on their behinds called buck grease. Not all males have this, diet & hormones plays a large role.

  • Some males once they reach maturity may end up with hormonal aggression. This usually happens around 6-8 months. It is caused by a shift in hormones. They will likely not outgrow it and it may even get worse over time. Many males will not have any change at all, but some will have a definite shift in personality. Your once sweet friendly boy may begin to bully or worse attack his cage mates, sometimes escalating to serious fights. In severe cases, he may even be aggressive towards you. Getting your male from a breeder who breeds for temperament significantly lowers the chance of hormonal aggression, as breeders make sure to breed away from it and monitor it in their lines. Neutering is also an option to prevent or end the issue (though comes with risk as well). Mating him will NOT help and may actually make it worse (as well as pass on his aggression to the babies)

     

Females:

  • Slightly smaller, you will need to be more careful of bar spacing to prevent escapes

  • Tend to be more active, energetic & playful. In my experience, they tend to be more exploitative, more likely to test boundaries & rat proofing and need far more mental stimulation. They do not always sit still & like to be on the move so may not be the sit & cuddle with you type, Though many females slow down with age. Females are still affectionate & loving and often enjoy sitting on your shoulders. They may be more prone to visit you for a moment, run off to do something else then come back to say hi. Many girls are still sweet & cuddly.

  • Females do mark but in my experience, it is not as common and way less than the boys.

  • Tend to be worse chewers (I believe it is because the ladies tend to require more mental stimulation & activity which they may not be getting)

  • Females can be prone to mammary tumors. A healthy environment and diet play a major role in the prevention of tumors

Want to learn about the different rat varieties? Click here

  • Where are you located and how far is it from me?
    I am in Dunkirk, NY 14048. It is about an hour drive from Buffalo, NY Two Hour drive from Rochester, NY An hour drive from Erie, PA 40 mins from Jamestown, NY Visit this link: https://goo.gl/maps/9AYRqoqwqKo Click the directions button on the left side of the page and put in your city/address to see how far away we are! Take a road trip, we are right on lake Erie and it is beautiful!
  • Do you deliver or ship?
    I currently do not deliver. I am just unable to do so at this time. I do hope in the near future this will change! Currently I am not shipping. Shipping is done through an airline. They are flown in cargo of a plane just like with cats/dogs. You will have to go and pick them up from the airline once the plane lands. This is very expensive just for pets, you are looking at $200+ not counting the cost of the rats. It would also be a huge inconvience for me to travel hours to an airline and it would be an entire day process for me! It is just not worth the effort. I will be happy to try and help you find a breeder closer.
  • What varieties do you breed?
    I have several different lines including: Seal Point Siamese & Russian Blue Point Siamese Coats: Standard, Velveteen, Double Velveteen, Satin Eyes: Ruby & Black Eyes Size: Standard & Dwarf Ears: Dumbo & Standard Standard Ear Tonkinese (Siamese Sable) Coat: Standard, Silvermane Eyes: Ruby Size: Standard Dumbo Marten Coat: Standard & Silvermane Eyes: Ruby & Black Eyes Size: Standard, Dwarf Markings: Berkshire, Patched, Blaze, Variegated Dumbo Agouti Silvermane You can read more about my lines HERE
  • What are your prices?
    $40 per rat so $80 per pair Read More Here
  • Do I need to fill out an application?
    Yes. I only sell to those who have been approved! I only open up applications when my waitlist has available spots, generally after a litter is sold or possibly every 6 months when I may clear or unresponsive spots.
  • When can we reserve babies?
    Those on the waitlist may reserve babies sometime between 6- 8 weeks old.
  • At what age do you sell babies?
    Babies are ready to go home sometime after 8 weeks old. Yes sadly some other breeders do sell babies that young or younger. Babies that age eat a lot of food and take up space and sadly some breeders just want to get rid of them to make room and save money. But it is not in the rats best interest. Babies need time to properly grow physically, mentally and emotionally. This is a really important time in the babies lives where they are still learning rat social behaviors that will set them up for life. This creates rats who are able to be introduced to new rats much easier. They will also have better immune systems & be more confident by staying with mom longer. I generally sell standard babies at 8 weeks old and dwarfs at over 10-12 weeks old. They are still babies at this age but more mature and able to transition to their new homes much better.
  • Will you sell me a single (1) rat?
    No. I only sell rats in same sex pairs. Why? Read here: http://www.onceuponamischief.com/single-post/2017/03/10/Single-Rats-Why-I-dont-sell-them Yes I will sell more than 2 rats at a time.
  • Can I visit you to meet/pick out my rats? How do I pick out the babies I want?
    No, sorry we are a closed rattery. This is for the health and safety of all of my rats and other adopters. You can read more about why HERE on my adoption terms page. Many pictures will be posted along with descriptions of each available rat. All of my babies are sweet and friendly as they are bred for ideal temperaments. Babies are still young and developing their unique personalities, they have a long road ahead of them for their true personality to fully develop. Once you take them home you will help to shape them & learn about their unique quirks, as with all pets! If for some reason you are having a hard time bonding with your baby or do not think it is a good fit, I will always take them back.
  • Can you let me know when certain babies/litters are available?
    You would not believe the amount of messages and emails I get! I talk to so many people it would be impossible for me to remember or individually let everyone know. If you have filled out an adoption form and been approved, you will get email updates. Liking/following my facebook page will also give you updates on when to expect babies being available. I post updates on every single litter. I do apologize that I can’t always give such a personal touch to people waiting. I do try my best to be prompt with answering questions and staying in touch. Always feel free to send me a message!
  • Can you send me pictures?
    I can not begin to express how appreciative of the support/love I am given on many of my photos and I know with the excitement of getting a new pick or wanting to decide which baby you want you may want to see a ton of pictures! But please don't ask me to send pics. I post A LOT of pictures, usually quite a bit more than most other breeders even. I like sharing pics a lot! If you look on my facebook page I am sure you will find the pic you are after of the babies! What I post is what I have. Taking pics of babies is not an easy task. It takes me hours of work. Setting up the area and the best lighting & getting curious active babies to cooperate. I usually take around 300-1000 pictures and have to look through every single one to find the best as babies don't just sit still politely! Then there is editing- cropping them & adding watermarks. It is alot of work that goes into it. I love taking pictures and sharing them, I try to take pictures at each major milestone of the babies lives. A note on Siamese babies- I get asked for pictures of the Siamese babies all the time! Siamese are little color changers! They start off life fully colored and then when they molt their color fades as they get points. So as babies they are not going to look the same as they will as adults. On top of that, all of the Siamese will likely look just about the exact same! I will share the pics I have of my Siamese babies, but there is really no point on asking for pics to choose from as they won’t look like that later on and they all probably look the same!
  • Do you breed hairless, Rex or Double Rex?"
    I get asked this so often! The answer is no, I do not. I like my rats floofy. They are just not varieties I am personally interested in.
  • Do you have Dumbos?
    Yes! Most of my lines are dumbo. I only have a handful of lines that are standard ear. Dumbo is just an ear type, there are a lot of myths out there about dumbos. They are still fancy rats. The way their ears look do not make them any larger, sweeter, or friendlier. The only difference is how their ears are placed. Also Dumbo rats are still fancy rats! Fancy just refers to them being pet rats vs wild.
  • Do you sell to other breeders?
    Sure! I love to but I want to get to know you and make sure we both share the same goals and ethics in breeding. Just message me and talk! All of my rats are sold under a pet only non-breeding contract unless you have my consent. If you are a breeder send me a message and I will send you my breeder form!
bottom of page