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New Member
Feb 4, 2020
hi everyone!!!
we are new and we would like to purchase 2 rats
we have a couple of questions

1- what gender is the best to buy?
2- Should we feed them rat food or buy approved fruits and veggies from the store
3- Is a fleece liner and potty training the way to go and where can I buy it
4- What kind of toys and accessories should go in their cage
5- we are on a budget so what kind of cage would be best
6- how do they learn names and potty train them
7- what kind of water will be best
8- do they have food dishes
9- do I need to buy a brush for their fur
10- what can I do to prevent respiratory infections


Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2018
Hello! Welcome to the forum! As you have probably seen, this is a rescue forum, so we recommend you try to rescue a couple of ratties and give them a good loving home. That being said,
1. This depends on you and your family. Girls tend to be more rambunctious and energetic, boys are bigger, and tend to be lazy and more lap rats and want to cuddle. But both are great.
2. Oxbow makes a great adult rat food. It's pretty cheap, and can be bought in a store, or online.
3. Fleece is so easy to use, and you can change it up to decorate your cage. You can get it at a fabric store, or Walmart. I buy it about 2-2.5 yards at a time. This does about 3-4 cage changes, and I have a big cage (critter nation).
4. They make rat toys, but you can use bird toys, baby toys, and even make your own toys. Look on YouTube for ideas.
5. My first cages were made out of laundry room shelving. You just need to make sure to give them enough floor space, and keep in mind the ease of cleaning, and ventilation. Glass cages are a no no because of the poor ventilation. Plastic can be chewed. If you can, see if you can find a used critter nation, or double critter nation on sale sites. They can be costly, but the pay off is worth it. As long as you don't cram too many in it, they usually never outgrow it. And it SO EASY to clean.
6. They will learn names if you say them often, and reward them for coming when called. They are kinda like cats with this. It's hit or miss if they respond. But most do most of the time. Potty training is also easy. Litter box with yesterday's news in it (no baking soda) and a fairly large rock, and they will pee on the rock, and you put poops in the box a few times a day. Most get it really quick.
7. My ratties are spoiled. I use bottled water. There's less chance of harmful stuff being in it. Much like you'd use bottled water for babies, I do for rats.
8. I use a metal bird dish that screws to the side of the cage. I also have one for water. That way it can't be tipped over. Also you should have at least one water bottle on the cage. I use a water bottle (or two) usually on one level, and dish on another. 9 times out of 10 they choose the bowl.
9. I use a soft toothbrush for mine. They don't like the dog brushes.
10. Don't use air fresheners, candles, or scented stuff around them. Keep them in a well ventilated cage. Clean their cage once a week, and daily spot cleans. Don't use harsh chemicals to clean the cage. Don't use scented laundry detergent. Use dye free, scent free detergent, and white vinegar.

Hmmmm hope that helped and I didn't leave anything out. Good luck with your new babies!
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Senior Member - Vegan for the animals
Jul 21, 2007
central New Brunswick Canada
Welcome to the forum! :)
In your profile please include your country and the province/state and if you want, the city or area.
It does make a difference.

This is a rescue rat forum so I would encourage you to get rescue rats - from a shelter, rat rescue, or rats being rehomed, instead of creating more demand for rats to be bred. There are so many rescue rats in need of good loving homes.

1. both sexes are wonderful and while there are generalizations, all ratties are unique. Boys tend to be more laid back, girls tend to be always on the go until they are older. Younger ratties want to run and climb and explore and play, while older ratties are happy to spend more time cuddling.
Girls should be spayed for health reasons if you have access to a good vet with the knowledge and experience to do it safely. This is not inexpensive. See the Reference Thread for more information https://www.ratshackforum.com/threads/reference-thread-read-only.35894/

2. Please see the information on diet and nutrition, forbidden foods list etc in the Reference Thread …… basically a good block such as Oxbow or Harlan 2014 available at all times, plus a variety of daily vegs and healthy treats (berries, a piece of fruit, cooked grains, a few organic pumpkin seeds, a few organic kumut puffs -a nature path cereal with no additatives)

3. It depends on the cage floors you have and what works best for you re bedding. Many use fleece or liners. Bedding must be frozen after purchase for 72 hours after purchase to kill any parasites that may be in it.

4. Please see the Reference Thread https://www.ratshackforum.com/threads/reference-thread-read-only.35894/
and this may be helpful https://www.ratshackforum.com/threads/thinking-of-getting-a-rat-things-to-consider.32306/

5. You need a cage with small bar spacing - this is very important to keep rats in and small predators out.
It needs to be at least 4 cubic feet in size for 2 rats and add at least an additional 2 cubic feet for each additional rat, but bigger is better. There are cage calculators online that will help figuring this out.
Horizontal space is essential for rats so the base needs to be at least 30 inches by 18 inches, but bigger is better.
A rat cage should also have height with large levels.
Most people who make a cage or adapt one soon find they have wasted their money and invest in a good rat cage. Se the Reference Thread as well as the habitat section

A. The most popular rat cage in North America is the Midwest Critter Nation (CN). The single CN is good for 2 or 3 rats they also make a double cage. (see amazon, etc)

B. If you are in the USA another good cage is the Martins R695 powder coated (paint is baked in to protect from rust) with flip top lid and assembled using hundreds of zip ties as the c-rings will rust. The wire floors must be covered - I found that covering the large wire floors with a piece of thick linoleum cut to fit, and covering the balconies with a dollar store dish drain tray cut to fit and attached with cable ties, worked well. They also make a wonderful large, covered playpen. See martinscage.com

6. They will potty train themselves, put litter boxes in the back corners and under ladders/ramps. People often use an unscented paper based kitty litter in their litter boxes.
Call them by name as you would a cat or dog. For safety it is best to start with one word that you want them all to respond to … I use treat and say it whenever giving anything to eat.

7. Chlorine is unhealthy for rats so use filtered water if your tap water has chlorine in it. Fluoride causes brain tumors in rats so if your water contains it you must use a different source of water. So basically give them the same healthy water you drink as long as chlorine is removed and fluoride has not been added to it. Bottled water is often someone's tap water and may contain contaminates …. also very harmful to the environment.

8. yes, they have food dishes …. and they will stash their food. They also need at least 2 sources of water in the cage and at least one needs to be a dish that can not be upset. Dishes and water bottles need to be cleaned at least once a day

9. Like cats they are always grooming themselves so not necessary unless elderly or disabled and need help with grooming. Use a soft new, clean tooth brush. Rats are not bathed as they are like cats and bathing will disturb the balance of oils on their skin. Some people with boys who have a lot of buck grease (hormonal secretion) will bath them once a month or once every 2 or 3 months. Elderly, handicapped, or ill rats that need help with grooming are often wiped down using an unscented alcohol free baby wipe or a warm damp cloth, or if not stressed may be soaked in warm shallow water in the bathroom sink if their bodies are fully supported by your hands.

10. Clean environment, clean cage, no drafts, good air quality, fairly constant temperature - no changes in temperature more then 5 degrees in 24 hrs, no scents, limit stress, do not expose them to other rats or situations where there are rodents unless necessary as there are several airborn rat diseases that are frequently terminal, healthy diet, exercise, handle and play with daily so you will recognize when ill so they will be treated immediately - when you notice they are ill you are well into a medical emergency, no softwood shavings, no dusty bedding, good humidity level & temperature (see Vital Statistics for Rats in the Reference Thread), do a health check once a week (see Reference Thread)

Please read the Reference Thread (which is continually having more info added to it) https://www.ratshackforum.com/threads/reference-thread-read-only.35894/
and the different threads on this forum for info and ideas
Last edited:


Well-Known Member
Nov 13, 2018
Also, for when you get them, you may want ideas for socializing them, and introducing them to new rats you may get over the years...go to www.joinrats.com tor that. And www.ratguide.com for health care info. Remember, rats are like potato chips, you can't have just one, and the more you have, the happier you get.:)

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