Pet Rats/Wood Rat


Hello, my sister in law found a baby wood rat (at least we think it's a wood rat) about a month ago. He's been with humans ever since. I have him now and have about three weeks. I'm wanting some information on this type of rats behavior. He's still not very social, he is a picky eater, and he's barely grown. He gets a rat mix of seeds and dried veggies, I also offer a high protein dry dog food and he won't eat that. I'm worried.

I assume this is a Norway rat as they are most common in the US.  Is his coloring agouti?  Meaning a grayish fur coat where each fur strand is tri, gray and white?  If so, he is a Norway rat.  Otherwise he's a black rat.  Those are the only two types.   The reason he's skittish is because he is a wild rat...its in their genes, although if found as a baby, you may be able to work with him to tame him.  Does he bite?  If not, pick him up often and play hand games with him....where you use your hand to play and gently wrestle with him and make him play and jump and run.  If he runs and then keeps running back to your hand then he is liking it and having fun.  

Here is a great website explaining behavior of wild rats.  It also has a lot of other good info you may be interested in.

The mix and dog food you're giving him are not a good diet for rats.  Seeds are very high in fat and the dog food is too much protein for his health.   A block food is a perfectly formulated diet for rats. A good inexpensive one you can buy at most pet stores or online at Amazon is Oxbow Regal Rat.  These dry blocks need to be kept in his cage 24x7 so he can graze as needed.  Rats won't starve themselves.   Don't offer any other food for a day or so and you will see he will eat this.

 To supplement this, you need to offer a variety of fruits and veggies daily.  Wait til he's eating the blocks for a couple of days and then start.  A couple of times a day, offer Frits and veggies.   Here is a list of good and bad choices.  Also, give fresh kale daily.

He also needs some protein.  Three times a week offer scrambled eggs, cooked beef liver, oysters, salmon, and white meat chicken.   These are the best sources of protein.  About the size of his head is what you should give 3 times a week.

I hope this helps.  Good luck and please ask if you have any more questions.

Pet Rats

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


Irene Murphy


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.


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.

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.

©2017 All rights reserved.