Domestic Rats

Domestic rats can make great pets.  They are very social and intelligent.  Rats usually do well housed with other rats, especially if introduced at a young age.  However, to avoid having an entire rat family, males and females should not be kept together.  They can learn many simple tricks such as targeting to a location.

Rats are rodents and have front teeth built for chewing.  They can easily chew through paper, wood, plastic, and even brick!  They also can fit through a hole the size of a quarter.  Make sure you have a secured enclosure for your rats to live.


Rats are omnivores and will eat almost anything.  They should be fed a rat food mix (made up of seeds and grains), as well as small amounts of fresh vegetables and fruits.  They also need things to gnaw on such as rodent blocks or sticks.


Rats usually live only two to three years.

Did you know?

  • The domestic rat is descended from the wild brown rat.  Rats were first domesticated in the early 1800s for use in ratting contests where small dogs competed to kill the most rats.  In the late 1800s to early 1900s, scientists began using rats for laboratory experiments.  Soon rats began to be kept as pets.  Now there are many different breeds, or varieties, of domestic rat.
  • Domestic rats are the same species as the wild brown rat but differ in several ways:
    1. Domestic rats are less aggressive.
    2. If properly and consistently handled, domestic rats will almost never bite.
    3. They are very clean, grooming themselves several times a day.
  • Male rats are called bucks, females are called does, and babies are called pups.  Male rats are larger than females and tend to be less active.