Rats should have access to a quality lab block at all times. We feed Mazuri Rodent Breeder 6F, but there are other good brands out there, like Oxbow and Envigo (Teklad). We also recommend supplementing with fresh food several times a week, if not daily. You can find a list of safe/unsafe foods here.
Rats should also have access to fresh water at all times. Water bottles are the easiest for most people, but they will also drink from a dish.
We find that kiln-dried pine shavings work the best for our rats. There are many options to choose from, however. Paper bedding, aspen shavings, recycled newspaper, and even fleece linings are often used by rat fanciers. Make sure any bedding you choose is free from fragrances and dust. Absolutely no cedar or pine bedding (kiln-dried pine is safe).
Rats are very intelligent animals, so toys are a necessity. Imagine how you would feel if you lived in a box (no matter how spacious) with nothing to do. Chew toys (such as wood blocks) are an absolute must, as rats; teeth grow continuously. Most rats will also enjoy having a wheel to run in. Make sure their wheel is at least 12 inches in diameter and has no holes for their feet or tails to get caught in.
We recommend a minimum of 2 cubic feet per rat. You can find a space calculator here to see if your cage is the appropriate size. Rats do like to climb, so make sure there is plenty of vertical space in their enclosure, in addition to floor space. They also feel vulnerable if their cage is too open, so make sure to add plenty of hiding places in the form of hammocks or houses, as well as branches or ropes for climbing.
Rats are very social and will enjoy interacting with their owners. Every rat has their own personality but, in general, younger rats are more playful and older rats are more mellow. Males tend to be more affectionate and females more curious. Just remember to be patient with new rats - they have to get to know you, too!
We always encourage you to do your own research before getting a new pet, and checking multiple sources for information. This page is meant to be merely a starting point. If you have any additional questions, please feel free to email us or send us a message on Facebook. You can find more information at these links.