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Pet Rats/New Baby Rat(s)


Hi Shawna,
I’m new to rat ownership & was hoping you could answer a few questions for me. Last weekend I got a female baby dwarf rat (she’s 9 weeks old) that I named Reagan. I have a deposit on a female baby Harley rat that will come home next weekend (she’ll be 5 weeks old when I get her).
I bought a bag of Supreme’s Reggie Rat mix & Reagan seems to love it (she ate all of it which surprised me – I thought she’d pick her favorites & leave the “healthy stuff”), but from all of the reading that I’ve done a homemade diet is best. Do you have a recipe that you recommend for babies?
Secondly – I have a Critter Nation cage. On the first day I got Reagan I put her in the cage with fleece liners that I made. When I came home a few hours later I couldn’t find her in the cage, but knew she couldn’t have escaped. I ended up finding her on the bottom of the cage, smashed between the pan & the bottom grill! She was flat as a pancake & I thought she was dead. I got her out & she seemed fine. I’ve been scared to put her back in the Critter Nation since this happened & have her in a smaller travel cage. Have you ever seen a rat do this before? She’s so tiny (about mouse size) and I feel lucky that I found her when I did. Anyway, I’m waiting to put her back into the Critter Nation until I get the Harley.
Thanks so much!


Thank you for writing and congratulations on the new rats!

I am currently working on evaluating many popular rat foods to find which ends up being the best. I am using a grading scale to rate the quality of their ingredients. At this time, I can only advise you to feed what I have found to be the best (which just so happens to be what I feed my own rats!).
I would recommend feeding Solid Gold Holistique Blendz dog kibble alongside a blend of all natural grains such as whole oat groats, hulled barley, raw unsalted pumpkin seeds, rye berries, etc. Avoid feeding cereals intended for humans- they are heavily processed and often have added sugars and excess sodium. You may even like to give up to three mealworms per rat daily as a source of protein and healthy fat. This diet is as close to natural as you can get with the exception of the dog kibble which primarily adds the extra vitamins and minerals which are not naturally found in the grains and seeds I have suggested. And of course be sure to give fresh fruits and veggies for added nutrients and variety. This diet provided young rats with a 18% protein, 6% fat ration they need to thrive.

As far as your cage goes, I would perhaps move your baby to a smaller cage, just for the time being. Even a spacious hamster cage would work at this point, if your rat is as tiny as you say. Once the rat is a few months old, you should be able to move them back to the original cage.

Hope that helps! Good luck with your little ones!  

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Shawna Laufer


Nutrition has always been an interest of mine as well as creating stimulating environments for rats. I conduct product reviews on my blog so I can take questions regarding products marketed or intended for rats. Other questions regarding basic husbandry, feeding, grooming, and other pet rat care will be accepted. I have very little breeding experience so I would not be able to answer much in the ways of breeding or genetics questions. I can help with some basic health care questions but am not a vet and always suggest contacting your vet for serious inquires.


I have over 13 years of experience with pet rats, having worked in several pet stores, as a veterinary tech assistant, and with my own pet rats. I run a highly regarded blog on the subject of pet rat ownership ( with a corresponding YouTube channel and Facebook page. I have been and always will be open to questions and comments.

A photograph of my lady rat's cage is being published in Worth Publishers' college textbook "How Children Develop, 4e" by Robert Siegler, Judy DeLoache and Nancy Eisenberg on the subject of how complex, stimulating environments and how they relate to the brains of rats.

I have some college experience, but not in the field of animals. I completed the majority of an at-home Veterinary Technician course which I was unable to complete due to financial reason. The majority of my knowledge on rats have come from personal experience, conducting my own research with the help of published medical studies and journal, the internet and through other knowledgeable 'rat people'.

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