As rats are often with, or looked after by children, they will certainly need guidance and, depending on their age and maturity, will probably need supervision. Be particularly careful when many friends are around. It is great if you can buy your rat from a breeder as he will be able to give good guidance on how to look after your pet and good food etc. He will often invite you to contact him if you have any questions.
Like us, they need food and water. A ceramic or stainless steel bowl is generally better than plastic as they are heavier and less likely to be knocked over, and will not be chewed. There are plenty of varieties of good bagged food for rats in your pet supply shop. I would vary the product bought each time to provide variety. Water is best from a water bottle with a steel pipe. These have a ball in them that ensures no floods.
So they also need a cage. The choice is between an aquarium type or a wire cage. I would choose a wire cage due to its better ventilation. However, it needs to have a solid bottom and, if multi level, with solid floors as rats can suffer from bumblefoot which may be made worse by wire flooring. There is also a risk of them injuring their feet.
The rat cage should be placed out of the sun and away from heat extremes such as radiators and draughts. It should also not be placed where the cage could be knocked. Keep an eye on access to the cage by pets like cats and dogs.
Choose the bedding for the cage bottom carefully. There is some evidence to suggest that pine and cedar are dangerous for rats. Rats commonly suffer from respiratory disease so you need to provide a dust free environment and ensure that the bedding you choose is dust free.
What to put in the cage? Rats are active animals and will require a wheel that normally comes with the cage. Good free things are toilet roll tubes although some rats may destroy them for their nest. The rat cage will also need a quiet dark area for them to go to, with their bedding there.
A great gadget for rats are the plastic balls where you can place them and they can then roll about in. Works superbly with tiled and wooden floors. They will rush around following you, but take them out when they stop. Sometimes they have a nap in there so, when it stops moving, have a look.
Rats groom and wash themselves and each other very well. So no need to groom them although some often like to be brushed. If they are not grooming, it may suggest there is a health or another problem, so check him out.
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