Rats may have a bad reputation, but these furry fiends also make good pets.

Here are five tips on how to be the perfect owner of rats

  1. Rats are communal animals so it’s best to consider buying more than one so they’ll have some company.They’ll also need to be let out of the cage for at least an hour per day to play and keep up their social skills.
  2. When you take your rats home they should be left alone for the first day or two to allow them to get used to their new home. Let them sniff your hand so they get to know you and your smell. A rat should be gently scooped up with both hands. Never pick your rats up by their tails.
  3. Clean their home thoroughly at least once a week using hot water and a pet-safe disinfectant.
  4. A large wire cage is best, especially one with horizontal bars that allow the rat to climb on the sides if they wish. A tall cage with ramps and platforms is ideal for providing room for multiple rats.The cage should ideally be placed in a relatively quiet location but still near the social activity in the home.
  5. Rats are omnivores and love a varied diet that includes grains, vegetables and a protein source such as dry dog food. Commercial mixes are available from pet shops. While rats are fond of titbits and household scraps, do not let them get too fat. They enjoy occasional pieces of fruit, vegetables, peanuts and sunflower seeds, but these can cause skin problems, so should be a rare treat.