The 3 biggest mistakes when adopting a rat

When deciding to adopt a rat, most people go to pet stores to look for the lucky one. However, we do not always receive the best advice in stores. In this article, we will discuss the 3 most common bad pieces of advice and illusions when it comes to adopting a rat.


1. The rat starter kit: small cage, woodchip litter, a few treats and off you go!

First of all, you must be particularly vigilant with the starter kits offered in stores. Indeed, they are often not enough to meet the needs of rats. So watch out for starter kits!


On the one hand, rats need a lot of space to live. Even if the cage is large, do not forget to take out your little companions every day. On the other hand, for the cage to be suitable for their well-being, it must have:

  • Several floors (2 minimum) to keep the rats active (there has to be enough space between length and height). You can create floors that don’t exist (You can create platforms) with hammocks, bridges, tunnels etc.
  • Several hiding places (prefer plastic or washable fabric hiding places, since the wood will absorb urine and any other secretion – hello smells!)
  • Check the spacing of the bars to prevent runaways
  • Add platforms, pipes, ropes so anything that could be used to stimulate the rats and keep them active

In addition, the type of cage below is not a suitable cage for a rat, unless of course it has a special condition or a handicap for example.








Rather, here is the recommended cage style! Indeed, the purchase of a good cage is important but do not hesitate to look for used cages and be creative with the accessories! We invite you to read the article “Which cage for my rats?” to learn more about how to choose and arrange it.






















Photo from: Mischief Managed – karasratworld



When you adopt, someone could recommend wood chip litter. It is definitely to be avoided! Rats are extremely sensitive and prone to respiratory problems (especially when coming from a pet store). Do not worry, there are several alternatives such as recycled newspaper litter, recycled wood pulp litter or even paper pellets. Dust must therefore be avoided as much as possible. Be careful, however, to avoid baking soda in litter mixes, because it is dangerous for the respiratory system of rats.







Oxbow kibbles are perfect as a food base for your rats. However, the other seed mix packets, or candy packets are small extras but should not constitute your base. In addition, rats are very fond of fresh food. See “Foods that are safe for rats (or that can be given under certain conditions)” for more information.


2. Rats are usually offered individually for adoption in pet stores.

Be careful, the rat, unlike other animals such as cats, is a sociable animal that lives in community. It is therefore important and essential that a rat does not live alone for its health, but with one or more other companions. So get ready to adopt at least two for their mental health.







3. I will be able to adopt a small companion inexpensively and without major maintenance for my children!

Think again! Indeed, it is true that the cost of adopting a rat is ridiculous (around $ 10 in Quebec). However, before adopting, it is important that you know that :

  • A rat in Quebec is considered an exotic animal. Not all veterinarians take care of these animals and the cost of consultations is higher than for a domestic animal, such as a dog or a cat.
  • The rat is not necessarily a fragile animal, but when it has respiratory problems, for example, the lungs, the size of beans, will weaken. It is important to have a budget for consultations when your rat’s health is at risk.
  • The purchase of the cage, accessories, food represent a significant expense.

Finally, besides the monetary cost, an animal also needs time. Among other things, you need:

  • To be able to get your rats out of their cage every day to play with them.
  • To clean the litter and wash fabrics daily.

In conclusion, be responsible when you adopt. Rats are extremely intelligent little animals that you can try to teach tricks to, that will give you a lot of love, and that are just amazing!


Author: The FantasyShelter team in collaboration with Natasha Thibouthot (Founder of the “Heart Rat Quebec” Facebook group)

Cover picture from Claudia Brisson (Canada)