If it’s your first time to own a pet rat, it’s more than understandable to wonder about their costs. Pet rats are starting to be more popular nowadays, but there’s still little information about them. Owning a pet for the first time can also be overwhelming, but don’t worry, I’ll help you out!
On average, a pet rat costs between 10$ to 20$. Since pet rats need company, a pair will cost between 20$ and 40$ depending on where you live. You’ll also need a cage, food, and other accessories. For an initial cost, expect to spend about 200$ to 250$. Then 20$ to 35$ for monthly costs such as food!
Pet rats are pretty low maintenance, so most of the cost will go towards their cage, toys, feeders, etc. Most of these you need to buy only once and you’re set. Then you just need to worry about food and bedding. But don’t worry, we’ll go over all of these in more detail, so you’re set and ready to get your new rodent friends home!
Average Pet Rat Price
Most of the times, pet rats will cost about 10$ to 20$. Sometimes, for example at pet fairs, they might cost less. Usually, I don’t recommend getting a pet from such fairs or from a store, unless you know the breeder very well and trust them.
It’s hard to get any kind of information from general stores since they might come from several different places and they’re not breeding the pet rats. So it’s more than natural that a lot of information about the ratties will be lost along the way.
So that’s why I recommend looking for a breeder, trying to know as much as possible about them and actually meet the breeder and the ratties. This way you can understand if they’re healthy and live in a good environment!
Since pet rats are very social, it’s better to always get a pair at least. If you’re a beginner, start with a pair of ratties. In the case that you’re already a veteran at owning pet rats, then you can go for more of course!
A lot of breeders or places will actually kind of offer a discount for a pair of pet rats, for example between 25$ to 35$. It really depends on the breeder and your haggling skills!
But these are the prices you might find. Of course, there’s also the adoption option. This way you usually don’t pay for a pet rat, save some small fees, depending on the place. We’ll talk a bit more about it further down though.
Other than that, buying a pet rat isn’t overly expensive, but of course, there are other costs to have into account, so let’s take a look at them!
Additional Costs For Pet Rats
Now here is where the price goes up a bit! But you need to have in account that a lot of these are a one time buy.
For example, a cage is usually pretty expensive. They need to be big, so you’ll spend around 80$ to 100$ or more in it. Of course, you can lower this price quite a bit if you build your own cage.
Other than that, you need bedding, a litter box (or more), litter to put on the box, food, other accessories, and toys! Veterinary visits are also a must, even if it’s just for a check-up. So it’s important to have money on the side for that.
I always recommend the Preview Hendryx or the Kaytee Multilevel Habitat, since they’re very sturdy and big enough for up to 5 or 6 pet rats. Even if you’re only interested in a pair at the beginning, if you decide to get more rats, you already have a cage big enough!
Yes, you’ll spend around 105$ to 120$ on a cage, but you’re sure it’s a good home for your pet rats and it will last you for a long long time. The only thing I recommend is to buy some Grid Storage Shelves or Hardware Cloth so the ratties can’t escape through the bars of the cage.
This is very easy to set up and you can even buy it later after having the cage. With luck, the bars are thinly spaced and you won’t need to make them smaller!
In short, always look for big cages, such as the ones for ferrets or chinchillas, since there are very rarely cages designed specifically for pet rats. Anything that is for hamsters or guinea pigs, for example, will be way too small.
Bedding is very important for a good home. They like to hide in it or hide their food sometimes. So it’s important for it to be comfortable not only to play but to sleep in! This of course adds to the pet rat cost.
I wrote an article some time ago with all the options you can go for. So if you want to read more about the safest bedding for pet rats and what to avoid, do take a look at it!
My favorite kind of bedding is made out of natural paper, like the Carefresh Complete Bedding. Bedding will cost you about 7$ to 20$, depending on the size of the package. A big bag will last you for a month or more, depending on how big the cage is.
The good thing about bedding is that you can even use cheaper options and mix with bought bedding. For example, we use a lot of old fabric around the cage for them to sleep in. Our girls love to have those on their beds or hiding places.
So usually, we have bought bedding for the floor of the cage and the rest is all the old fabric that we had at home. Every week, all of that goes for washing and we put new fabric on the cage.
A lot of people won’t even use any kind of bedding save for pieces of cloth to line the floors of the cage, which is also a cheaper option! The problem with having everything lined with fabric is that it can create a bit more odor rapidly.
Lastly, but not least, toilette paper makes excellent bedding as well and it’s something that a lot of people use!
Litter Boxes and Pellets
Pet rats will learn to go to the bathroom. They’re very clean and most of the times they’ll choose a place in the cage just for their droppings. To make things a bit easier for you and them, having at least a litter box is very important! This isn’t a substantial pet rat cost though.
If you have a big cage and more than two rats, I recommend having at least 2 litter boxes, on different floors. This way they can go to different places and have a litter box to use anytime. With just one, it will fill too fast and even our ratties won’t want to use it.
If you want to learn more about this, I really recommend reading the post I wrote about how to litter train your pet rat because this will be really useful for you and your rodent friends!
It is also quite easy to train them, so mostly all you need is a litter box. There are several sizes, but again pet rats are quite big, so a big box is better. Such as the Ware Litter Pan, which is made for bigger rodents, including pet rats!
Then you need some bedding to fill it. This will help mask the odor from the litter box. I usually recommend getting different bedding for the box than the rest of the cage. This helps our ratties identify what is the bathroom and what isn’t more easily.
We prefer to use pellets, made out of paper. They’ll absorb the urine, so it doesn’t smell as easily and will last for a long time. For example, we usually take out their droppings every day to keep it clean. Then, once a week, when doing a deep cleaning of the cage, wash the litter box and add new fresh bedding.
Litter boxes are quite cheap, around 7$ to 9$ and you’ll only need to buy it once. As for the pellets, it can be a bit more expensive, for example, 20$, but it will also last you for more than a month!
As for food, it is very important to buy packages that are designed specifically for pet rats. Each rodent has a different diet, so it’s important to give them the right one. In food, you’ll spend about 9$ to 16$ a month.
The price mostly changes depending on the size of the package. For example, a bigger package will be more expensive but will also last for more than one month. This is in the case that you own only two pet rats. By owning more, you’ll spend more on food.
I really like the Oxbow Essentials package, since it’s only pellets so we make sure our ratties get all the necessary nutrients!
Remember that their diet should be supplemented with fresh fruit and veggies. We usually always have them at home for us, so it won’t add a lot to the cost of having pet rats.
Other Accessories and Toys
Other than all of the essentials we went through, it is important to have a water bottle. These are usually very cheap (around 5$ to 7$). A bowl for the food is also necessary and this can be anything from, plastic bowls, to clay bowls and even the small metallic bowls for cats!
Having hiding places is also very important as well as toys so our pet rats can keep themselves entertained! Hammocks, ladders, climbing ropes and chew toys are a must to have on the cage.
I wrote a full list of the best toys for pet rats, including DIY options, so be sure to check it out! All in all most toys will cost around 5$, except for hammocks and wheels that can go up to 20$!
Again, most of these are one buy only, so you’ll spend this money only once.
Even if it’s just for a check-up, you’ll want to bring your rodent friend for a veterinary once in a while. A check-up appointment costs around 40$, sometimes less. Surgeries, if necessary, will cost about 40$ to 150$ depending on how difficult it is.
Pet rats are very prone to tumors, so it’s good to have money on the side! Lastly, if you want to have your pet rats neutered, it goes for about 50$ to 100$.
All in all, the first costs for owning a pet rat will be around 200$ to 250$, depending on the brands or quality. Then, for food and bedding, 20$ to 35$ a month depending on the size of the packages you buy.
Lastly, it’s always good to have at least 150$ on the side, in case your pet rats need special attention from the vet!
Getting A Pet Rat For Free!
There are some ways to get a pet without paying for them. One of the best options is to adopt a pet rat! If you can’t find a breeder nearby or just prefer to adopt a pet rat that lives in a shelter.
Depending on where you live, chances are you’ll find a shelter that has pet rats. There are many reasons why pet rats end up in a shelter, but once there, they’re very well taken.
One of the advantages of adopting a pet rat from a shelter is that they’re usually checked-up regularly, they’re healthy and even neutered! So this is one thing you won’t need to spend money later on.
Because of this, it is also natural for you to need to pay some fees when adopting them. It’s a good way to help the shelter with their costs as well.
Again it depends on the places. Speaking of which, here’s a website, the Rat Fan Club, with a list of several shelters that you can visit. It’s not super updated, but I’m sure you could find something near you!
Of course, it’s always recommendable to check the shelter and meet your potential new ratties before adopting them. And, if you are interested in voluntary work, most of these places will accept voluntaries to help take care of them!
Some pet rat breeders will also offer them for adoption, so that’s an option for you. Simply keep an eye out and maybe you’ll get lucky! Even though it’s pretty rare, it can happen.
Lastly, but not least, ask your friends and family! You never know when someone you know either has pet rats or know someone who breeds them.
That’s how we got our girls actually! We asked family, they had a friend who breeds birds, who knew someone else who breeds rodents. So you see, we might take weird turns, but eventually, the pet rats will come to us!
Buying A Pet Rat Online
There are a few options to buy a pet rat online. The best way is to find breeders, who have usually pages on the internet. Either on Facebook, Twitter or even their own websites.
The reasons why it’s better to go for a breeder is that you can meet them and your ratties. They usually care very well for their pet rats and will actually train them! This way, your rodent friend is already quite used to deal and be handled by people.
The pet rat price will be around the same for every breeder.
Here are the best ways to buy a pet rat online:
- Search pet rat breeders on facebook – your experience may vary with this, sometimes it will go well and others not as much. For that reason, it is important not only to check the reviews and comments of people that have purchased before. But to also be sure it’s possible to meet with them. This way you can be sure the ratties live in a good and healthy environment. And you can also start bonding with your future pet rats. If you can’t find any breeders nearby you, then be sure they have great reviews and comments!
- Use Google to help you – search “rats for sale in __” (your area) or “pet rat breeder ___” (your area) to find where you can buy these adorable rodents. The internet made things easier for us to find what we need and that goes for pet rats as well. Again, it’s important to be sure it’s a reliable breeder and, if possible, to meet them!
- Ask friends and family – I HIGHLY recommend you try this, there are actually a lot of people who own rodents but are afraid of speaking about it. So you might already have a friend that has pet rats or is even a pet rat breeder! As I said, it was one of the ways that we discovered a breeder. Even though we live in a place where pet rats aren’t a favorite, we ended up discovering a lot of people who own and breed them!
If you can’t find anything near you, then as a last resort you can check a pet store (here’s how to do it safely). Again, this is not the best option, but one never knows! Usually, pet stores don’t breed the animals, so you don’t know where they come from, their history nor if they’re well taken care of.
For that reason, I always recommend trying to exhaust all your other options first!
What To Look For When Buying A Pet Rat
When buying a pet rat, you want to be sure that they live in good conditions and that they are healthy. Pay special attention to their nose. Pet rats show a red discharge on their eyes and nose when they’re sick. This discharge is pretty common but only in small amounts.
Since pet rats are known to have weak respiratory systems, this is something to look out for. If you notice that they have difficulty in breathing, they might already have some kind of chronic disease.
Finally, inspect their skin and fur for any possible tumor, skin rashes or even missing patches of fur. These are usually the signs to look for. If their fur is shiny, they move around with energy and stay curious, that means they’re a healthy little rat!
Lastly, but not least, be sure they come from a good home. Pet rat breeders usually love their animals and will take them with care. Again, I recommend you have the chance to meet the breeder and your new potential rodent friends.
That way you can start forming a bond with them, so they get used to you and being handled by you!
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