We know your rat or mouse is the center of your world. These smart, personable creatures make amazing companions, and we know you want to provide them with everything they need to be happy and healthy every day. That’s why we’ve put together this collection of essential rat and mouse care tips to help you along your journey together.
In this article, we’ll cover the following important topics:
- Feeding your rat or mouse
- Rat and mouse behaviors
- Enriching your rat or mouse’s world
- Housing your rat or mouse
- Essential rat and mouse supplies
- Your rat or mouse’s health
Feeding Your Rat or Mouse
- As an omnivore, your rat or mouse eats both plant and animal material.
- A daily recommended amount of uniform, fortified food provides the foundation for your rat or mouse’s daily nutrition and should make up approximately 75% of the diet.
- A mix of fresh veggies, greens, and fruits provides your rat or mouse with valuable nutrients, water, and enrichment. When it comes to the types and amounts of these items, it’s best to speak with your veterinarian to determine what’s best for your specific animals. As a general rule, veggies, greens, and fruits should make up approximately 20% of the daily diet of rats and mice.
- Healthy treats help make the bond between you and your pet more fun and meaningful. Again, moderation is key! Limit treats to approximately 5% of the daily diet.
Your Rat or Mouse’s Food
A complete, age-specific fortified food is the best option for your rat or mouse.
- It’s important to choose a uniform food to prevent your rat or mouse from engaging in unhealthy selective feeding behaviors.
- For mice and young rats, choose between Essentials Mouse & Young Rat and Garden Select Mouse & Young Rat.
- For adult rats, choose between Essentials Adult Rat, Garden Select Adult Rat, and Simple Harvest Adult Rat.
- All Oxbow foods lines are formulated to meet the specific daily nutrition requirements of the species for which they’re intended. Not sure which line to choose? Don’t worry! We’ve outlined the unique characteristics of each of our food lines to make the decision easier!
Veggies, Greens, and Fruits for your Rat or Mouse
Veggies, greens, and fruits are an important part of your rat or mouse’s daily diet. These fresh foods offer important vitamins and nutrients, contribute to hydration, and provide enrichment to your little loved one’s daily routine. Check with your qualified veterinarian for a full list of appropriate veggies, greens, and fruit choices. A good starter list of varieties to offer and avoid includes:
Romaine, kale, parsley, apples (without seeds), strawberries, bananas, peas, and squash
Leeks, chives, and onions
Nesting Material for Rats and Mice
Rats and mice are expert nesters, so it’s important to provide plenty of safe, comfortable nesting material for your pet to build with. Good nesting options include:
Treats For Rats and Mice
Treats are great for encouraging interaction between you and your pet, but they should never take the place of essential daily foods. Eating too many treats can lead your rat or mouse to refuse his healthy, essential foods.
Good great options for rats and mice include small amounts of oats, sunflower seeds, barley, and cooked brown rice. For convenient, wholesome options, choose from Oxbow’s full line of Simple Rewards treats.
Enriching Your Rat or Mouse’s World
Rats and mice are wired to engage in a set of healthy instinctual behaviors each day. These behaviors include chewing, playing, hiding, and exploring. Intentionally encouraging these behaviors in healthy ways is called enrichment. Support all four behaviors in a variety of ways each day to support your rat or mouse’s mental and physical health.
Looking for some enrichment inspiration for your rat or mouse? Check out our top 10 toys and accessories for rats and mice!
Rat and Mouse Behaviors
- In addition to being adorable, domesticated rats and mice are intelligent and social by nature. Both are clean and docile pets that rarely bite.
- Rats and mice enjoy socialization with both other same-species companions, as well as humans.
- As a testament to their intelligence, rats can be trained to respond to their names and clicker training, to “fetch” objects, use a litter box, and climb ropes.
Your Rat or Mouse’s Health
- You should visit a qualified exotics veterinarian at least once a year for check-ups on your rat or mouse’s diet, behavior, and health.
- Be prepared for your pet’s visits by making a list of any questions you may have ahead of time.
- Many rat and mouse health problems are preventable with proper diet and care. To locate a qualified exotics veterinarian near you, visit aemv.org.
Housing Your Rat or Mouse
- Rats require lots of space to foster enrichment and exercise in the form of playing and burrowing.
- Rats love to climb and explore, so choose a multi-level habitat for these athletic adventurers.
- For mice, choose a species-appropriate habitat with bars spaced no more than 1/4 inch apart
- Choose a habitat with a solid bottom to accommodate bedding such as Oxbow’s Pure Comfort, dedicated hideouts for rest and relaxation, cardboard tubes, ropes, an exercise wheel, burrowing and nesting material, a food bowl, and two sources of fresh, clean water.
- Set your pet’s habitat up near household activities, but away from drafts.
Learn more about how to make your rat happy with a clean and enriching environment.
Essential Supplies for Your Rat or Mouse
Every rat or mouse should have daily access to some basic supplies for health and happiness. Make sure you’re stocked up on the following:
- Age-specific fortified food
- Plenty of appropriate nesting material
- A variety of natural chews and miscellaneous enrichment items to support your pet’s chewing, exploring, and playing instincts
- Oxbow treats for healthy bonding and enrichment
- Two sources of water (both a bottle and dish)
- Heavy food bowl
- A species-appropriate enclosure
- For rats: A spacious, multi-level habitat with solid, non-slip flooring
- For mice: An appropriately sized habitat with bars no wider than 1/4 inch apart
- Multiple hiding spaces for rest and relaxation
- Litter and bedding material
- Natural Science supplements, as needed
Still have questions about how to provide the best care for your rat or mouse? Our experts are here for you!