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SMALLPET / new pets

Fancy Rat Care Guide

Tips from home to health to food and fun


6 things to know about your fancy rat

  • Experience Level: Beginner
  • Fancy rats grow to 7 to 10 inches (18-25 cm) long with a 6- to 8-inch (15-20 cm) tail
  • Lifespan: Fancy rats live for about 2 years
  • Behavior: They are most active during the day
  • Training: They are highly intelligent and can learn to come when their name is called
  • Did You Know: They have poor eyesight and sway while standing still to detect motion

How do I set up a fancy rat habitat?

Fancy rats are social and can be housed in pairs, but to prevent reproduction, it’s best to pair rats of the same gender. Their home should include a hiding house. Hiding houses should be easily cleaned (Wooden houses are not recommended). Edible homes give the additional benefit of encouraging normal chewing behavior.

  • House your rat in a habitat that’s at least 24 x 12 x 12 inches (61 x 30 x 30 cm), with multiple levels.
  • Place the habitat out of direct sunlight in a low-humidity area that’s between 65 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit (18 to 24 Celsius).
  • Line the habitat with at least 1 or 2 inches of paper bedding or wood shavings (cedar shavings are not recommended). Spot-clean the bedding frequently and change it monthly.
  • Clean hide-houses regularly.
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What do fancy rats eat?

Fancy rats enjoy a mixed menu of pellets, vegetables, and fruit.

  • Pellets should make up 75% of their diet; keep the bowl three-quarters full and refresh it daily.
  • Feed rats dark, leafy greens every other day; and apple, banana or melon once a week.
  • Rats should have access to fresh, clean water at all times.
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How can I keep my fancy rat healthy?

Try not to handle rats for 3 to 4 days, while they adjust to their new home. Even after they are settled in, rats can get sick. Notice any of the following signs? Contact a veterinarian or a PetSmart store associate

  • Cloudy, sunken or swollen eyes
  • Overgrown front teeth
  • Bare patches in fur
  • Diarrhea or discolored droppings
  • Lethargy
  • Weight loss; not eating or drinking normally
  • Sneezing; discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth


  • Thoroughly wash your hands before contact with your rat.
  • Use caution when handling rats, and remember they may bite or scratch, especially when stressed.
  • Never lift your rat by the tail.
  • Supervise children around pets.
  • All animals can carry viral, bacterial, fungal, and parasitic diseases that are contagious to humans. Thoroughly wash your hands with warm, soapy water after contact with any pet, its habitat, or aquarium water. Adults should assist children with hand-washing.


Pets purchased at PetSmart are part of our exclusive Vet Assured™ program, designed by PetSmart veterinarians to help improve the health and well being of our pets.

Our vendors meet a high standard in caring for pets and screening them for common illnesses. This program also includes specific standards for in-store pet care.


If your pet becomes ill during the initial 14-day period, or if you’re not satisfied for any reason, PetSmart will gladly replace the pet or refund the purchase price.