Being a dedicated rat owner can be very rewarding. All it takes is a little research and a lot of preparation.
If you’re getting ready to adopt a rat as a cherished pet, there are some pitfalls that you should be aware of beforehand. Here are 10 of the most common pet rat care mistakes that first-time rattie owners make:
1. Getting only one rat.
A person might think that getting two rats is too much extra work… or that a pet rat will bond with a human owner more readily if there is no other rat around to become friends with. The truth is that rats are highly social creatures. They need to have other rat-friends to play with and to “talk” to. Furthermore, taking care of two rats is not much more work than caring for one.
2. Getting the wrong kind of bedding.
Sometimes a rat owner will want to cut corners and use newspaper or cheap bedding. Rats are very sensitive to the chemicals in the ink and cheap bedding can often have dusty particles that will irritate their lungs. If you see a red discharge coming from their noses, chances are, there is an irritant present in the air. Pine wood chips are not safe!
3. Feeding the rats an imbalanced diet.
No, it’s not cute how your furry friends can eat almost as much pizza as you. Caring for pet rats means feeding them healthy food. Look, there’s no excuse. Fruits and veggies are not expensive items to buy; also, be sure they get their share of lab blocks, seeds, and a daily dab of a vitamin supplement.
4. Not cleaning the cage often or thoroughly enough.
Their urine will decompose and produce ammonia. This, along with the decomposing bedding can irritate their lungs. Yes, it’s a pain to do. But putting up with the unpleasant aspects will only help you to appreciate them more. Clean and disinfect with bleach-water once a week, or up to two weeks, maximum.
5. Not taking them out to play often enough.
Rats will eventually get depressed if they remain cooped up inside their limited cage environment. If you make play time fun and challenging, you will be looking forward to the bonding time as well!
6. Deciding to breed for the wrong reasons.