Caring For Your Pet Rat When You Can’t Be There

Reality often pulls us away from our furry friends. Being an adult is ironic since you have to spend the majority of your day working away from home, just so that you can give your pets the best home possible. If you work nine to five, you’ve probably had your mind on your pets and are eager to spend time with them. What many non-pet owners just don’t get is how special our pets are to us.  We think about our animal children and worry about them endlessly, just like you do over your human children. Pluto the rat’s has a health condition and he needs to stay hydrated, how can I be at two places at once to make sure he’s fine?  What am I going to do when that 2-week vacation comes and I can’t bring him along?

Who do I trust to take care of him the way I would?

There are many solutions to these problems, fortunately. For starters there are a number of associations that offer pet sitting services like, (if you’re US-based). They have the required passion and know-how for animal care, so you can have that peace of mind. Realistically, however, a worrying parent can never be fully assured. So the best way to combat your worries, specifically in the case of rat parents, is to ensure that you have a pet rat cage and accessories that totally accommodate the needs of your pet rats. In that way, if you can’t be there- at least you can relax at the thought of having equipped your rat’s cage to the extent of seeing through some of your parental duties. Let’s begin by taking a look at the basic needs of rats:


 Your rat needs enough room to roam around freely. It is recommended to allow 2 cubic feet of spacing per rat. The more rats you have, the more this measurement increases and you’ll have to add an extra cubic foot per rat (so that it amounts to 3 cu ft per/rat) because they’ll need space to avoid over interacting and potentially fighting in frustration. The golden rule for cage sizing for two rats is 72 cm x 36 cm x 44 cm and you’ll want to have more than one lonesome rat because they are social creatures and require company, especially if you aren’t there to provide that as often as they need. Moreover, the bar spacing needs to be taken into consideration. In general terms, 1 cm spacing is fine for any rat over the age of 3 weeks. The bar meshing should also be predominantly horizontal as it is easier for your rats to climb to keep them stimulated and you can easily hang toys and accessories that offer them more practicality and comfort. The bottom line is if you are absent for an extended amount of time- you’ll want that cage to be as big as possible so that it feels like a home and not a prison where your presence is like daily ‘outside time’ allowance.


 Rats actually have pretty similar dietary requirements to humans, considering that they, too, are omnivores. For more specific information on dietary requirements you should consult online sources. For the sake of this article, we’re focusing on how to facilitate the feeding and drinking process so as to avoid contamination and keep the food as long as possible. You will need a specific water bottle for your pets because water bowls can be tipped over or easily contaminated by dirty paws or other cage infiltrants. You will need to change the water every 48 hours and make sure that you buy a high-quality bottle and check that the ball is loose and allows water to flow. With feeding, bowls are a popular choice but not always the best. Again, they can easily be tipped or contaminated. You’ll want to get a bin feeder (some have automated dispensers to prolong the freshness of food) that can be attached to the sides of the cage to maximize the quality and preservation of the food.


 Rat owners know how intelligent these curious animals are and that they are always busy and need to keep stimulated. You’ll want to get climbing tubes, branches and ladder ropes to fulfill their climbing needs. Rats like to bury and dig, so getting a plastic container within the cage and filling it with low PH compost soil and shredding paper is not a bad idea. You can add treats in this treasure box to make it more exciting but avoid adding straw or hay (who would have thought?) as it can cause breathing issues. With regards to actual toys, when looking online- consider toys that provide puzzle work as rats are quick learners and it will keep them busy and entertained.



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