Pet Rats/Long lifes

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Question
What advice could you give me to help me insure that my rat has a long healthy life?

Answer
Hi Keyanna.  As you may already know, the typical lifespan of a pet rat is 2 to 2 1/2 years.  Anything beyond 2 1/2 is a very long life and not that common.

The health and longevity is partly determined by genetics and partly by providing a proper healthy diet and appropriate living environment.  Therefore, where you got your rat affects genetics.  

Getting a rat from a responsible breeder will ensure you have a rat bred for good health, but not necessarily longevity.  Even the best breeders cannot determine longevity.  Getting a rat from a pet store or a rescue is a shot in the dark.  Some of these rats can be riddled with health issues, while others can live very long healthy lives.

That said, the part you have control over is diet and proper environment.

Here are some tips for environment:

- Make sure your rat has at least one companion of the same sex (or a neutered boy with a girl).  Rats are very social creatures and thrive when they have their own kind to play with, snuggle and sleep with, etc.
- Make sure the cage is a good size, with two or more levels, ideally at least 18" wide by 24" long for 2 rats, but larger is always better.
- Make sure the cage is in a room that is well ventilated and temperature controlled and free of scents and odors such as smoke, candles, cleaning product smells, etc.  The ideal temperature for rats is between 70 and 75 degrees.
- Make sure the cage is cleaned regularly, or as soon as the urine odor begins to build up, but at minimum once a week.
- Make sure the rats get at least 8 hours of pitch black darkness, which is necessary for good health as they are nocturnal.
- Make sure the cage has several places to sleep and hide including hammocks, igloos and fleece for cooler days and nights.
- Make sure the cage has plenty of enrichment items such as various toys to keep your rats stimulated, as they are intelligent creatures and are easily bored.  Try to change up the setup of the cage at least once a week to keep them stimulated.

Here are recommendations for a healthy diet:

- Never feed pet store dry mixes.  They contain many ingredients that are unhealthy for rats.
- A highly recommended rat block as their staple dry diet is Oxbow Essentials Regal Rat.  It's avaialble at most pet stores and online.  Here's a link to it...
http://www.amazon.com/Oxbow-Regal-Rat-Food-3-Pound/dp/B000GABM1K/ref=sr_1_1/183-
This block food should be kept in a bowl in the cage 24x7 as rats digestive systems process food quickly, therefore requiring them to nibble around the clock.
- At least once a day, offer a bowl of fresh fruits and vegetables.  Rats can eat almost all fruits and veggies but some are prohibited.  Give a variety every day.  I recommend giving kale every day along with with several other fruits and veggies along with it.  Change the fruits and veggies up every day but ensure they get a wide variety.  Here is a link to the fruits and veggies recommended for rats...
https://pethelpful.com/rodents/Rat-Nutritional-Information-Can-my-Pet-Rat-Eat-This
- Make sure you have 2 bottles of water in the cage, just in case one of them becomes clogged.  Give purified water or bottled water and not tap water.

Please let me know if I can answer any other questions.  Good luck with your rats!

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Irene Murphy

Expertise

I can answer a variety of questions regarding adoption and care of pet rats throughout their lifetimes, including questions about their health and well being, temperment, diet, bedding, cages, toys, etc. I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability in a timely manner and I have an abundant amount of resources to help me to help you with your pet rats. I love rattie pictures, so include pics with your question if you can. You may ask me medical questions, but please be advised that I am not a vet. I may use my resources to answer some medical questions, however, I will need to refer you to your local vet with medical questions that I feel I am not qualified to address.

Experience

I have been a huge rat enthusiast for many years. Since becoming a rat owner, I have educated myself in all areas of pet rats from every resource I could find including the internet, books, conversations with local exotic vets, as well as several local rat breeders.

Education/Credentials
I have a college degree but not in the area of animals. I have obtained my extensive experience and knowlege of pet rats all on my own because in my eyes, pet rats are the most interesting and fascinating creatures you can ever imagine to have as pets. I also am saddened by how mislabeled and misunderstood these amazing and extremely smart animals are by the majority, and my mission in life has become to educate and change as many people's perceptions of rats as I possibly can.

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