Rats are very sociable, friendly animals and make great pets for both children and adults. They are easy to tame and I’ll describe how to tame them in this article.
Company is important to rats, and they should be housed in pairs (same sex unless you want to breed them). If you had a single rat it would easily become bored and require a lot more attention from you to keep it interested. A pair can play together and still enjoy human interaction. Males tend to be more sociable so you may prefer them, although they do grow larger than females.
A good sized cage is essential as rats are very active and playful. They love climbing ladders and snoozing in hammocks so be sure to add some of these to your cage, as well as balls and toys for them. The cage should have a plastic base as this needs to be covered with litter. We used wood litter for the base of their cage and paper litter for their litter tray (so they can tell them apart). You should not use sawdust as this can affect rats’ breathing. Remember that rats need a house to retreat to for quiet time, preferably a sturdy wooden one as they will quickly chew thin plastic ones, and this can be filled with hay or soft bedding.
Food and Water
Rats should have access to fresh water at all times, and this should be via a bottle attached to their cage, as a bowl of water would get messy. For food, rat nuggets or muesli are inexpensive and a bowl should be filled every 2-3 days and left for the rats to eat or store away in their own time. You can give rats treats such as pieces of toast or biscuit, or you can buy special small animal treats such as yoghurt and chocolate drops (never feed human chocolate to a rat though) and seed or nut bars. Our rats always enjoyed millet spray as a healthy treat (which can normally be found with aviary supplies in a pet shop).
Litter training is easy: when your rats poo outside of the litter tray, just put the poos in there and within a few days they will get the idea. Rats are very clean animals by nature.
With regards to handling rats, when you first bring them home leave them to get used to their new surroundings for the first day, without trying to handle them. When you are ready to hold them, try talking to them with their door open and feeding them from your hand. Rats love food, so most rats will come when offered a treat. Let the rats get used to you and let them smell your hands; rats are unlikely to bite so don’t be afraid of them, and they might just walk onto your hand and climb on you. To get them to trust you, ensure you always let them smell your hand before picking them up and never pick a rat up while it’s sleeping. Always reward rats after playing outside the cage with some treats and they’ll be eager to play again next time.