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Pet Black Rat (Rattus rattus) Care Sheet


Please refer to the General Small Rodent Care Sheet before reading this section!


| Introduction | Stages | Keeping & Breeding | Breeding | Books | Related Topics | References | Related Websites |
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Black Rat Introduction:

The rat genus, Rattus spp., consists of about 56 difference species of which the Black rat (Rattus rattus) is probably the most abundant and domesticated of them all.

The domestication of the rats and mice (Mus musculus) began well over a century ago when these rodents were seen as the major spreaders of various unpleasant diseases. So called "rat-catchers" were employed to get rid of these pests, as they were called then. Rat-catchers began to keep and display different colour varieties in public houses. Although all rats and mice descended from their original brown ancestor (Rattus norvegicus), today's domesticated rats and mice are far removed from their wild relatives, and are unlikely to present any significant health risks to their keepers.

Some people may shudder at the idea of having a rat as a trusted pet, but they are said to intelligent, clean, interactive pets. Some people also see these animals as being affectionate. Rats are perfect for owners which lack a lot of space and  who are looking for something more than the traditional gold fish, mouse or hamster. The average age of these animals are two to three years of age, but some captive specimens were known to live for seven years.

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Black Rat Stages:

Adult Black rats are significantly larger than mice (rats can reach a weight of 500 g /  1 lb). The average rat is about 25 cm / 10 " long (incl. tail). Rat babies are called kittns or rittens.

Keeping & Breeding Black Rats:

The following must be taken in consideration before keeping and breeding rats:

These animals and their cages can smell bad very easily. Males tend to stink more than females. The only way to overcome stinking problems and prevent discomforts and diseases is to clean the cage once too three times a week (depending on the number of animals per cage and on the type and size of the cage) and by preventing overcrowding.

Most domesticated rats make good pets, but they are short lived animals. The average age of rats is just below four years (rarely up to seven years), If you compare the live span of the average rat with the average live span of man, a day will be the same than about three weeks in the life of a human. You can think for yourself how many time these animals will loose if you do not give attention to them, even for a day or two. Pet rats need lots of attention.

To keep and breed rats you will need the following basics:

  • a cage, cages or a large type of container
  • space
  • food & water
  • bedding
  • a shallow container for food
  • a shallow container for water
  • keeping and/or breeding stock

Cages & Containers
Apart form the caging mentioned in the General Small Rodent Care Sheet, a few rats can also be housed together single bird cages or larger three foot fish tanks  Literature suggests a cage no smaller than 60 x 30 x 40 cm / 24 x 12 x 16 ", but a larger cage with extra climbing space are always better. Large bird cages with ladders and ropes are more preferable than closed smaller containers. Walk-in or outside mesh bird cages decorated with ladders, logs and rocks makes interesting housing for a whole colony of rats. Outside cages should be situated next to a wall so that there is adequate shade during the day. The wiring should be gap free and the floor should preferably be cemented to prevent rats from digging holes and dig their way out. Although these cages are usually outside it is still important to clean it out regularly.

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Breeding Black Rats:

A sexual active buck can be placed with up to six does (6:1 ratio). Two or more males per cage (especially small cages) can end up in brutal fights for domination which will ultimately end up in reduced fertility and matings. When a cage is too large a male can have difficulty in "catching" and mating with females. In this situation more males and females can be added although it might not be of any good. When using males in rotating systems, one should be at least three weeks with a female for ovulation and mating to take place.

Rats can get between three and twenty one kittns per pregnancy (avg. ten or more). As with other rodents, rats usually get pregnant and conceive while still nursing.

Rat kittns are usually weaned at the age of five to six weeks after birth. The suckling stage is very important for the development of any mammal. Milk is a very good source of calcium and proteins. The longer babies can be kept suckling the better. Hoppers are usually sold directly after they are weaned. Generally young can be weaned a few days after they start to eat solid food.

Puberty (sexual maturity) starts about six to twelve weeks after birth and is dependant on weight.

Black Rat Related Books:

Pet Rats by Colin Patterson, Pet Rat Care & Training Guide
Pet Rats by Colin Patterson, Pet Rat Care & Training Guide (eBook)
(Click for more information)

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"If you think I should add more information to this section or think that something is incorrect, contact me and let me know. I would love to hear your ideas or methods you might use that is different than ours."

Last updated 17 June 2007 by Renier Delport

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"Always remember only to buy healthy animals from reputable pet shops and breeders. Make sure to buy animals that are captive bred in your own country and that it is not illegally imported or caught from the wild."

"If you've read something funny, or heard something that sounds out of place, use your common sense before applying. It is extremely important to do research from more than one source (before buying or accepting a new animal). Browse other internet pages, read related magazines and talk to experienced people."

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Black Rat Related Topics:

Black Rats As Food
Other Care Sheets
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Black Rat Related References:

Alderton, D. 2001 The Ultimate Encyclopedia of Small Pets & Petcare, Lorenz Books.

Miller, S. A. & Harley, J. B. 1999 Zoology, Fourth Edition, McGraw-Hill.

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| Introduction | Stages | Keeping & Breeding | Breeding | Books | Related Topics | References | Related Websites |
| Rats For Sale | Email This Page |





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Related Black Rat Websites:

Runebound Rattery (Fancy / Pedigree Rats in South Africa)

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