How to Find/Buy Healthy Pet Rats

How to Find/Buy Healthy Pet Rats

Owning pet rats, or any pets for that matter, is not something you can decide on a whim. You need to make sure you can accommodate the rats into your lifestyle. Rats require daily interaction with humans, feeding and having their cage cleaned out weekly.

Once you have decided that rats are for you, you will need to buy all the necessary equipment like a cage, exercise accessories, food etc. Then you are ready to find your rats, this is the part you need to take seriously and I will provide you with the information you need to help you find healthy, happy pets.

Where to Find Pet Rats

Pet Stores

This is the obvious place to look first, in my experience most pet stores have rats for sale. There are a few drawbacks with buying from a pet store however. The store will most likely be buying from a large supplier, this means that the staff will not likely know much about the history of the rat. They are usually just looking to sell as quickly as possible, so you will need to check the rat carefully for any health problems.

Take time to assess its temperament too, a healthy rat that has been socialised will look lively, be friendly to handle and alert to its surroundings. Determining the sex of a rat it fairly easy to do even from an early age. So, whether you are choosing males, or females, make sure they have been housed separately. The last thing you want is to take on a pregnant female!


There is a large community of rat breeders, you can easily find the nearest breeder to you by searching online. Once you have found one you can ask what they have available now, or when their next litter will be.

When you go to pick up your rats take a good look around and make sure the breeder is operating a clean and ethical operation. If you feel comfortable with them, you can feel happy you are getting a healthy rat.

Private Ads

You can find some interesting pets by browsing through private ads, for example on our rats for sale section on Pets4Homes. Rats are usually easy to come across, some of the reasons you will find rats available via private ads include; litters being born at home for sale, rats that owners no longer have the time to care for, and sometimes people just decide to sell their pets.

The good point here is that you can ask questions about the rats’ history and the owners will know everything about them for as long as they have owned them. Also, in many instances you can buy the cage and accessories needed to get you started from the owner.

What to Look for when Buying Pet Rats

Health Issues

It’s very important that you check your rat carefully to make sure it is healthy when you buy it. Here are some of the things you should look for in a healthy rat when choosing:

  • The rat should be alert and curious when you approach and handle it
  • Check the fur, males are a little more rough but all rats should be well groomed
  • Check for lumps or bumps, rats are prone to tumours later in life
  • Dry nose and ears
  • No signs of fleas or mites, check around the ears in particular
  • Normal breathing, no wheezing or sneezing

Your intuition can play a part here too, if something doesn’t feel right then pass up on it. Rats only live between 2-3 years, it’s important you get off to a go start and give them the best life possible.


Your rat is going to be your companion that you see and interact with on a daily basis for several years, so picking a rat displaying a good temperament will benefit you in the long run. Every rat is different and will display different personality traits, spend as much time as you can with it before deciding if you will be buying it. Some traits to look at:

  • A rat should be tame to handle and not scared
  • Rats should never be aggressive or make hissing sounds at you
  • It should be lively, alert and happy
  • Appear to be in all-round good health

Outside of the above you can choose a rat that suits your personality too, you might want a quiet one, while some people like very active rats.


If you are buying a baby rat then you will have a lot more involvement in shaping its character. You can spend a lot of time socialising it so it is friendly, or if you do not spend much time handling it as it grows up, it will be less social.

Buying a fully grown and mature rat means it will have developed its personality. This can be frustrating for owners sometimes if their rat has some bad habits, but this is what you are buying into with a grown rat.

Males or Females

If you mix males and females in the same cage I probably don’t have to tell you that they will breed fairly quickly. This is not recommended unless you intend to breed and know what you are doing.

So you need to choose either males or females to house together. The most noticeable differences between male and female rats are as follows:


  • They learn quicker and are often recommended to new owners
  • Much more inquisitive and curious than males and do not stay still as long
  • Smaller than male rats


  • Like to spend time relaxing on your lap doing nothing
  • Their fur feels a little more rougher to touch
  • Tend to smell a little bit, certainly more than females

In Conclusion

There are a lot of choices to consider when buying rats. It is not just as simple as turning up at your local pet store and buying whatever they have in. If you do this you may end up frustrated and not getting the enjoyment you should be from your pet. Good luck.



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