You are here:

Pet Rats/country rats


QUESTION: hope you can add some information or direct me to anyone else who may be able to help me.

i love rats, my daughter babysat some for a friend years ago and they are so cool, we ended up with a white one, we called picasso and he was precious!
anyway,  i have some out side under the sidewalk area and i have the tiny hav a heart traps, i did find an article telling me how to trap them…….
i want to get the family, have a hard wire square chicken wire pen to house them in , while trapping them…….
can they or will they bite through this ?  is there something else i should use?
music, cover, little boxes for them to go into. what can i do to keep them calm while getting this done?

i have a great place to release them, water /stream nearby etc.  and not near people.
the weather temp. is above 45 degrees which is the recommended time/temp to trap and release.  
how many can i expect to trap for a family? ha ha.   and common sense question, will the next member come out to get food in a short amount of time, after the 1st one does not return?
i am ready to go.  just need some fine tuning……..i have feed them through the winter and am prepared to help them get adjusted to a new life and foraging for foods etc.
many thanks, and if i can donate to anything etc. do let me know.  

i do have an apple computer and it does do some pulling of messages, but i also receive a lot of stuff from africa and other crap about buying things and winning things etc.

What I think of as chicken wire has octagon-shaped holes, so I'm wondering if your cage is made of hardware cloth?  Does the cage have wire on all sides? They definitely need boxes to hide in.  The average litter size for wild rats is 6, so you can maybe expect 6-8.  How quickly more family members come out to look for food might depend on what other food is available, how old they are, who you catch first, and what food you use as bait.

What do you mean by a "tiny" Havaheart trap?  Rat traps are not tiny. The ones I have are about 18 inches long.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: deb.  thanks for the timely reply…….yes, the real original chicken wire is very thin and a soft edged  octagon  shape…….the material used is also called, as you mention, hardware cloth, but is constructed of a much thicker metal and the squares are a little over 1 inch in size.      
it is custom made for this trapping of rats, so, yes, it is totally enclosed, with a 1'2 size door that opens on one end to be able to let the rat fall or jump into the bottom end. it's not quite 3 feet in length.

well, i was unable to locate this size trap, i had to get them shipped from louisana.  small compared to the regular/popular size used for cat trapping.  there is a smaller one, but i was concerned about getting their tails caught…..

i think there are probably babies, about a month or so, more or less, haven't seen them out yet, their intake of the food i put out has substantially increased in the past two weeks.  ate part of a hyacinth plant !    i feed them everything, baked potatoes, carrots, cheese, always peanuts, choco. ( small pcs.) no studies on how this is tolerated. fruit, they like watermelon and can't elope.  

i just found a book by robert sullivan, from new york, in 2004, he apparently did a consult job on the city populations, they  were concerned they might have plague or other issues that people could get, but no real help in what i am doing…………..they were trapping them and pulling blood for testing and re leasing them.    the babies were considerably  higher in numbers, that is what made me ask if you knew or had a rough estimate.   realize it could be more…..

is it okay for the mom/dad and the babies to all be in one pen?  i don't have another pen,b ut it i may need one, want to be ready.  anything pre made that you are aware of that i could buy. like at tractor supply store etc. ?

do you know or acquainted with any individual who has done this or has written on it for others?

okay, will close here, thank you much for your input, if you have any input or ideas etc. do let me know………..
have a good monday.  sincerely, ann de marco

I was asking about the pen to keep them in not the trap. To me a pen has an open floor, which is why I asked. Rats would tunnel out if it's not totally enclosed. Mesh a little larger than 1-inch square would let small babies slip through. Yes, the whole family can be in the same cage, as long as there are enough hiding places. I've heard of a few other people who did this, but don't remember any details. The hardest part is moving newly trapped rats into another cage. The risk of someone getting loose is really high. You might consider just releasing them all in the same place as you catch them.

Chocolate is perfectly fine for rats, but a bit expensive!  

Pet Rats

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Debbie Ducommun


I can answer any questions about pet rats, but you will probably be able find answers to simple questions more quickly on my website at If you have a life-threatening emergency you can try calling me at 530-899-0605. I am not usually on the computer on the weekend.


I have been "The Rat Lady" since 1985 and am recognized as one of the world's experts on pet rats. I have 3 published books and already answer lots of questions about rats daily.

President of Rat Assistance & Teaching Society

I am a monthly columnist for Pet Business magazine, and my writing has appeared in other magazines. I have 3 published books.

BA in Animal Behavior

©2017 All rights reserved.