The Lifespan Of A Pet Rat And How We Can Improve It

The Lifespan Of A Pet Rat And How We Can Improve It

Making a commitment to welcome a pet into your family is a big decision, mostly because of the attention it will need in the years to come. While cats and dogs have fairly long lifespans, other pets are unfortunately not so lucky. As fantastic pets as they are, fancy pet rats don’t live nearly long enough and it can be off-putting for a lot of perspective owners. So how long do pet rats live for? The usual lifespan of a pet rat is only 2 to 2.5 years, 3 at most and it’s really highly unusual for them to live any longer.

Rodney the rat

According to the Guinness World Records, the oldest pet rat ever lived to 7 years 4 months and he was a rat called Rodney. As unbelievable as it is, Rodney must have won the genetics lottery to nearly triple the lifespan of a domesticated rat! Since 1995, when the records began, no other rat lived as long as Rodney and while some owners state that their rats lived between 3 to 5 years (which is extremely rare), it’s still not long enough to break the record.

The Genetics

The Lifespan Of A Pet Rat And How We Can Improve It 1
Source: @emeraldrattery Instagram

When it comes to determining the lifespan of any animal, their genetic make-up plays a huge role and can mean a difference of months or even years with your beloved pet! That’s why is really important to know where your animal came from and find out as much as you can about their ancestors.

While it’s easier to do with dogs and cats, it can prove a bit more complicated with smaller animals, like rats. Unfortunately, most of the time there’s no way to find out about the genetic line of your rat if you got it from a commercial pet store. You might get more comprehensive information if you adopt rats from a specialist breeder instead. Whether it’s a business orientated private breeder or hobbyist, they usually match rats based on temperament and history of illnesses which occurred in the line previously. Breeding rats with longer lifespans and healthier genes could be a vital step to their longer and happier life.

How to help my rat live longer

Just because you can’t do anything about the genetic side of things, that doesn’t mean you can’t make your rat’s life as long and as happy as possible. There’s a few ways to greatly improve their lifespan and can be attempted by following a simple routine.

  1. Clean living conditions. Keeping your pet rat cage clean and tidy is super important when it comes to keeping germs and infections at bay. Because rats are prone to respiratory issues, dust and dirt free environment can greatly improve their chances of staying healthy for longer.
  2. Exercise. A big, clean enclosure with plenty of toys and places to explore can make a big difference to your rat’s overall body health and stamina. If your furry friends put their little bodies to work (some rats even run on a wheel, like hamsters!), it will strengthen their muscles and improve circulation.
  3. Diet. A well balanced diet consisting of store bought rat food and occasional fresh veg/fruit mix will keep your rat’s appetite satisfied and provide all the necessary nutrients. Never keep your rats under fed as it might cause anaemia, but also be cautious of overfeeding which leads to obesity and makes a big impact on your rat’s cardiological and respiratory systems. You can find a comprehensive list of foods rats can and can’t eat here.
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Source: @ratsandcrafts Instagram

Cherish them for as long as possible!

Pet rats don’t live for nearly long enough and that causes a big heartache for their owners all over the globe, so it’s vital that we give them a helping hand when it comes to staying healthy. It might be more time consuming to clean their cages more often or prepare nutritious food, but the effort will be worth every minute! And the secret to a healthy and happy rat? Lots of love, cuddles and strokes!

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