November 12th is Fancy Rat and Mouse Day! This occasion was started by the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association (AFRMA), using the anniversary of its founding, which happened back in 1983. While rats are definitely ranking pretty low on the pet popularity scale, they do have some devoted fans. A Tumwater, WA shines the spotlights on these little guys before.
Fancy rats are a domesticated form of brown rats. They are actually Norway rats, though they originated in China. Initially bred for sport in 18th and 19th century Europe, they are now sold by breeders. These little guys are actually very cute! They come in many different colors and patterns. Another great thing about them is the fact that they are easy to keep. They rarely grow longer than 10 inches, and only live about 2 years. They can’t see very well, but are smart enough to learn their names. They’re also quite loyal!
For a single-rat habitat, you’d want a cage that’s at least 24 x 12 x 12. You’ll need a suitable substrate, such as paper bedding or wood shavings. You can house fancy rats together, but you’ll need to take care to only keep them in same-sex pairs. You’ll need to add a hide for your furry pal to retreat to. (Tip: consider getting an edible house.)
Your fancy pal will need a somewhat fancy menu. This should consist of pellets, supplemented with veggies, such as dark, leafy greens. For treats, you can offer fruit about once a week. Ask your vet for specific advice.
Keep a close eye out for signs of sickness. These include bald patches; diarrhea; lethargy; weight loss; overgrown teeth; sneezing; loss of appetite; discharge from the eyes, nose, or mouth; and/or cloudy, sunken, or swollen eyes. Call your vet if you notice any of these.
Unlike wild rats, pet rats pose no health risks to people or pets. However, you’ll still need to wash your hands thoroughly before and after handling your rat. They also can bite if scared. Never lift the little guy by the tail, and don’t handle him if he seems agitated. If you’re getting a rat or mouse for a child, supervise your little one closely when they are handing their tiny pet.
As your Tumwater, WA pet hospital, we’re here for you! Contact us anytime!