Rat / Mouse

Small animal - RatLooking after your rat or mouse

Homing

Cages should be of metal or glass as plastic and wood will be chewed, wood can also get very smelly. A nesting area is usually provided and plenty of space and suitable toys (wheels, toilet roll tubes, ladders etc.) should be available as rats and mice are very active. Rough guidelines for space would be 750 square cm for a mouse and double this for a rat. Bedding is usually wood shavings, sawdust or paper. Cages should be cleaned out at least twice a week. Neither rats nor mice are prone to bite. Male mice may fight, females are more likely to get along together. Rats usually get along well with each other and may be trained with titbits

Feeding

A commercially produced rat or mouse food is usually given and may be supplemented with small amounts of fruit and biscuits. Fresh water should always be available.

Handling

Mice can be picked up by the base of the tail or cupped in the hands. They may be scruffed. Mice can move very quickly and are small so are probably better for older children. Rats should be picked up by a hand placed around the shoulders. They should not be scruffed.

Reproduction

Both rats and mice can be sexually mature by the time they are 6 – 8 weeks old. They will breed throughout the year and have a gestation period of around 21 days. Both rats and mice produce an average 10 young and they should not be disturbed for the first 3 days after birth. Weaning for both species is at around 3-4 weeks of age.

Lifespan

Rats 3-4 years. Mice 2-3 years