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You are here: myPetSmart.com > Care Guides > Fancy Rat Setup Steps

Fancy Rat (Rattus norvegicus)

Experience Level: Beginner

Fancy Rat Nibbling


Did you know? Rats are highly intelligent. With practice and training they can learn to come to their name when called.

Step 1Choosing a Habitat


• Fancy Rats can live together in pairs. It’s best to house same gender pairs together to prevent aggression.

• Your rat needs a wire home with a solid floor. Because rats are good climbers, a multilevel home is preferred.

• It should be large enough for a (A) food dish, (B) water bottle, hiding house and climbing toys.

• There should be plenty of room for all cage accessories, and for your pet to move around freely.

• Minimum cage size is 24x12x12".

Cage Placement
• Place the habitat in a cool 65-75º F (18-24º C), low humidity area, out of direct sunlight.

Step 2Play and Hide

These items are essential for your rat’s comfort, health and well-being.

Exercise Wheel (not pictured)
• Wheels should be made of a solid surface to prevent injury to your pet’s tail. Rats also enjoy exercise outside of the habitat in an exercise ball.

Hide House
(C) Houses should be easily cleaned (wooden houses not recommended). Edible homes give the additional benefit of encouraging normal chewing behavior.

Chew Toys
(D) Your Fancy Rat’s front teeth never stop growing, so your pet needs lots of healthy things to chewon, like treat sticks and chews. Chew toys shouldbe available at all times.

Hay Manger
(E) Filled with timothy hay or orchard grass, haymangers are enjoyed by Fancy Rats as a healthy snack.

Nesting Material (not pictured)
• Rats will shred material and make sleep areas.  Paper or cotton fabrics are acceptable.

Step 3Bedding

(F) Rats love to hide and burrow, so provide lots of clean aspen, pine or recycled paper bedding.
Line the home with 1-2" of bedding.
• Cedar bedding is not recommended for small pets.

• Bedding should be spot cleaned weekly and completely changed monthly.

Traits and Behaviors

• They are the smartest of all small pets, and can learn simple tricks.

• Calm, curious and fun-loving, Fancy Rats love to play and interact with their Pet Parents.

• You’ll notice your Fancy Rat grooming frequently while awake.


New surroundings and environments can be stressful for Small Pets. Prior to handling your pet, give her 3-4 days to adjust to her new surroundings while monitoring her behavior for any signs of excessive stress or illness.


• Cloudy, sunken or swollen eyes

• Overgrown front teeth

• Bare patches in the fur

• Diarrhea or discolored droppings

• Lethargic behavior

• Weight loss; not eating or drinking normally

• Sneezing; discharge from the eyes, nose or mouth

If you notice any of the signs described above, speak with a PetSmart store associate or small animal veterinarian about the health of your pet.

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

The program includes:
• Specific standards our vendors agree to meet in caring for and observing pets for common illnesses.

• Specific standards for in-store pet care.

• The PetSmart Promise: 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.