Caring for Your Rat

Caring for Your Rat


Caring for your Rat is an educational guide from Oxbow Animal Health will teach you everything you need to know about keeping your pet rat happy and healthy.


Your rat is an omnivore, which means he eats both plant and animal material.

Your rat requires a simple diet composed of a complete fortified food, freshwater served in both a sipper bottle and tip-proof dish, and veggies, greens, and fruits in appropriate daily amounts. Like humans, rats are prone to eating when bored, so it’s important to provide healthy foods in proper amounts.

Fortified FoodD

Fortified food like Oxbow Essentials Adult Rat Food or Essentials Mouse & Young Rat Food is the best option for your rat. These specially designed foods are formed into the ideal shape for nibbling, which promotes healthy teeth.

Food Selection

Always choose an age-appropriate food formulated specifically for rats. Our Essentials Mouse & Young Rat Food is ideal for rats under six months of age, and our Essentials Adult Rat Food is recommended for adult rats.

Avoid: Mixes with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit because rats have a tendency to select those tempting morsels over healthy food pieces.

Did you know
Small amounts of high-quality seeds, such as oats, sunflower seeds, barley and cooked brown rice make great treats for rats.



Veggies, greens, and fruits are an important part of your rat’s daily diet. These items offer important vitamins and nutrients, contribute to hydration, and provide enrichment to your pet’s daily routine. Check with your qualified exotics veterinarian for a full list of appropriate veggies, greens, and fruit choices. A good starter list of varieties to offer and avoid includes:

Offer: Romaine, kale, parsley, apples (without seeds), strawberries, bananas, peas, and squash
Avoid: Leeks, chives and onions



Supply grass hay to stimulate natural foraging and nesting, which helps in the prevention of obesity. Many rats especially enjoy Oat Hay, which often contains tasty, immature seed heads.

Hay Selection

Use our Taste & Texture Guide located on every hay package to determine your pet’s preferences. We have many all-natural farm-fresh hays to choose from including Western Timothy, Orchard Grass, Oat Hay, Botanical Hay, and Organic Meadow Hay. Also, check out our Harvest Stacks line of compressed hays for extra enrichment.



A part of caring for your rat includes treats.  Treats are great for encouraging interaction between you and your pet, but they should only be given after basic daily foods have been eaten. Offering too many treats can cause your rat to refuse his healthy, essential foods. It’s important to remember that not all treats are created equal! All Oxbow treat varieties are designed to be as wholesome as they are delicious.


Caring for your Rat

Rats are intelligent and social by nature


Domesticated rats are clean, docile pets that rarely bite.

They enjoy socialization with both other rats as well as humans. In addition, rats are very smart and can be trained to respond to their names and clicker training, to “fetch” objects, use a litter box, and climb ropes.

Want to keep your pet rat busy for hours? Fill a box with one of Oxbow’s grass hays and hide your rat’s favourite treat inside. He’ll enjoy both the excitement and challenge of the treasure hunt!



When caring for your rat, you should visit a qualified exotics veterinarian at least once a year for check-ups on your rat’s diet, behaviour, and health.

Be prepared for your pet’s visits by making a list of any questions or concerns you may have ahead of time. Many rat health problems are preventable with proper diet and care. To locate a qualified exotics veterinarian near you, visit



  • Wet or soiled tail
  • Blood in the urine
  • Sneezing or trouble breathing
  • Hunching in a corner or lack of activity (lethargy)
  • Overgrown front teeth
  • Bald patches in the fur
  • Lumps or sores on the body
  • Sores on the feet
  • Abnormal eating or drinking


Rats cannot burp, because of this, avoid feeing gas-causing vegetables such as cabbage



Rats require lots of space to foster creative living, playing, and burrowing.

Rats love to climb and explore, so choose a multi-level habitat for these athletic adventurers. Choose a wire cage with a solid bottom to accommodate bedding such as Oxbow’s Pure Comfort Bedding, places to hide such as Timothy CLUB Bungalow or Tunnel, cardboard tubes, ropes, an exercise wheel, grass hay for burrowing and nesting, a food bowl, and two sources of fresh, clean water.

Set your rat’s cage up near household activities, but away from drafts. Newspaper, paper towels, facial tissue, and old mittens or socks also make excellent nesting materials for rats.


Avoid: Aromatic cedar and pine shavings that may contain resin and could irritate your pet’s lungs and skin.



  • Fortified age-specific food: Oxbow Essentials Mouse &Young Rat Food for rats under six months of age or Oxbow Essentials Adult Rat Food for rats over six months of age
  • Variety of Oxbow’s grass hays for nesting
  • Oxbow treats for healthy bonding and enrichment
  • A mix of healthy veggies, greens, fruits, and seeds
  • Heavy food bowl
  • Water bottle and heavy water dish
  • Cage designed specifically for rats
  • Wheel, tube, and hay habitat such as Oxbow’s Timothy CLUB Bungalow or Tunnel for hiding and playing
  • Oxbow’s Pure Comfort Bedding

For more information about your rat’s nutrition and behaviours, visit