This article will address both aspects of pet rat safety. Safety for your pet rat and safety for you as the handler.

Safety for Your Rat

  1. Rats  like to chew. Make sure that if you let them out to explore they don’t get chew on power cords, that make their way to a cleaning products covered in chew on some poison. Power cords can be encased in plastic tubing that you can obtain from most hardware stores. Poison cupboards should always be locked. We talk about poison we don’t just mean rat poison the mean cleaning agents, gasoline, oils antifreeze, dishwashing detergent, fabric softener – all of these are likely to be fatal to your rat
  2. Rats are social creatures and should not be kept alone – don’t get one get two. Two females is ideal, a male and female quickly become many males and many females.
  3. Keeping male rats can be problematic and you really should only consider a male rat if you are intending to breed them. Male rats can have problems with the need to dominate especially if they have excessive levels of testosterone. This need to dominate will be seen in displays of aggression and biting – of other rats as well is you. You can use a male rat to remove this behaviour if you’re going to go to the trouble and expense of doing this one a diskette females in the first place?
  4. Rats are social animals of they are also prey animals to you should not socialise your rat with your cat, your dog your large parrot and certainly not your ferret.
  5. Young children can be a danger to pet rats because they are very much the same size as a fluffy toy, and young children’s experience with small fluffy toys is that it’s quite okay to throw them from a height, to carry them from any limb, even to put them in the bath with some shampoo. Small children need to be supervised the pet rats.
  6. Be aware that some of your pot plants are likely to contain chemicals that are poisonous to your rat to be aware allowing them to chew on your plants might be a good idea.
  7. Unlike rats in cartoons pet rats cannot live on cheese. They need a balanced diet of pelleted feed, seeds and vegetables. Dairy products correction not very good for them and should be avoided.
  8. Rats have a tendency to over eat without a wheel to run on an area that they can explore and play in you will quickly find yourself suspecting that one of your two female rats is a male has somehow impregnated the female partner as well is himself.
  9. The phrase ”dirty rat”is a misnomer and they are not actually dirty creatures and certainly do not like to live in filth. The cage should be kept clean faeces, urine, and rotting vegetable matter or otherwise the chances of your rats getting ill from the bacteria, fungus and viruses that thrives in this material is very high.
  10. Don’t try medicate your rat. If you think your rat is in pain should get veterinary advice as opposed to giving it a small matter Panadol which is likely to kill it.
  11. Don’t use cat and dog products rat for example dog or cat shampoo or dog or cat flea powder, spot on drops etc. Rats ability to deal with the toxicity of these products is not is different because of their size is different because of the different way to the body is able to cope with certain poisons. Only ever use rat specific products on your rat

Safety for the owner.

The biggest risk rat owner faces is being bitten, some tips to avoid this are:-

  1. Don’t buy an adult rat from a pet store, undoubtedly it has not been handled enough to be tame and it is only through handling rats and a very young that they become tame enough to tolerate or even enjoy constant handling.
  2. If possible you handle the parents of your potential rat pet. Is it like to be handled? Is it tame and friendly? Traits such as aggression and biting are often passed on from generation to generation so it is certainly a good idea to see if the parents of your potential pet rat have these traits.
  3. Male rats have higher levels of aggression because of testosterone. Many rat owners will tell you will to the males which have been hand raised from very young are exceptionally friendly and never aggressive. Whilst this may well be true it certainly better to avoid all the problems that testosterone brings with it and keep only Neutured males or better yet – females.
  4. If two of your pet rats are engaged in a fight don’t try and separate them with your hands. Likely one of the more bite you thinking you are a third combatant. Squirt them with a water bottle and they will quickly be more concerned with escaping the water the continuing fight.
  5. In hand feeding your rats make sure it is easy for your rat to will get to the food in such a way that they will not bite you. Holding a small treat between fingers as you press it through the cage bars is not a good idea.
  6. Don’t try and keep and domesticated wildrat. For starters domesticating it to the point where it will allow itself to be handled is extremely unlikely that secondly they are very likely to be carriers of diseases which are serious health threats to human beings
Veterinary Surgeon, London at Blue Cross UK | + posts

A London based Veterinary surgeon, Sanja is also an avid writer and pet advocate.