Rat care

Can rats be neutered? 

Male rats can be castrated to enable them to live with other female rats. When choosing rats, it is usually best to keep same sex groups in order to avoid any unwanted litters. 

Do rats need annual vaccinations? 

While rats do not need any annual vaccinations, they should receive regular veterinary check-ups, ideally every six months.

Where can I buy a rat? 

When choosing any pet, it's always best to visit your local rescue centre first of all. Charities such as Wood Green have many pets in their care waiting new for homes, all of which will have been thoroughly health checked before rehoming. 

Different rat colours 

Rats are available in many different coat colours, with various markings and coat types. The most common colours of rat are black, mink, champagne and albino. 

Do pet rats carry disease? 

Many people believe that rats are dirty and carry disease, that they can bite and that they are aggressive. While this is true of wild rats, domestic (pet) rats are not like this at all. Domestic rats are really sociable and become very attached to their owners. They don't carry disease and are very clean, spending hours keeping their coat clean and in a good condition. They will also try to keep their environment clean too. 

How should I handle my rat?

Rats are extremely sociable and will enjoy plenty of interaction with their owners, who they can become very closely bonded too. Rats don't like to be held, but prefer to use you as a climbing frame. Let your rat move around, using you as support — you'll probably find that he will settle on your shoulder to take in the view.

When your rat first arrives home, handle him for short periods of time only to begin with to allow him time to get used to you.

How to pick up a rat:

  • Never pick a rat up by his tail
  • Always make sure your rat is fully awake and aware of your presence, a startled rat may bite out of fear
  • Stroke your rat gently along his back before picking him so he is fully aware of what is about to happen. Once you have picked him up, bring him straight into your body so that he feels secure and he can use you as a human climbing frame!

Pet care advice