Where to Buy Pet Rats: A Trusted Guide

by Morgan Mulac

Where to Buy Pet Rats: A Trusted Guide


Having pet rats as part of your family is becoming more and more popular as people discover how much they enjoy these unique and intelligent animals. With the rise in popularity, it's important to choose a reputable retailer when purchasing pet rats.

In this guide, we will discuss some of the best places to buy pet rats, from pet stores to private breeders. We'll also provide tips for finding a trusted source and how to ensure the health and safety of your new friend.

Pet Rats: An Overview

Contrary to popular belief, pet rats are absolutely wonderful companions for you and your family. In addition to being amazingly intelligent, they are very affectionate once you have gained their trust, and they will bring you a great deal of joy in your life.

A number of different types of pet rats are available, and if you want a particular type of rat, there are some considerations that need to be made. The term "fancy rat" refers to any pet rat; therefore, all 'breeds' are solely breeding varieties rather than distinct breeds themselves.

For more specific breeding variations, such as dumbo ears or patchwork coats, it would be ideal to find these from experienced and reputable breeders, as this will give you the assurance that you're getting the exact rat you want.

The good news is that when it comes to the care of a rat, there are very few things that need to be considered in terms of the care of these variations. Rats with sphynx and rex heads are more likely to get eye infections, but most rats don't have much difference in their health or lifespan.

We need to make a point of mentioning before we go any further that rats are companion animals. So many places where rats can be adopted will require you to purchase a pair of rats when you go to adopt them. For simplicity's sake, we will use the term 'rat' throughout the article.

Where to Buy a Pet Rat

Having decided which type of rat you would like to get, it is time to decide where to go to get your new furry friend. It is important to note that not all places are created equally and thorough research should be done before adoption.

Registered Breeders

If you’re looking for a specific type of rat, a registered breeder is the way to go. It’s important when looking to get rats from breeders to make sure they have proper certifications and proper breeding practices.

Don’t be afraid to ask plenty of questions of a potential breeder to ensure that they’re breeding safely and reputably. Questions to ask include when they will give you your baby rats (most breeders will only sell in pairs, and will sell around two weeks after weaning them from their mother, which is around 6 weeks of age), what kind of rat food the breeder gives the rats, and for photos of their cage set up.

Additionally, dedicated breeders will ask you about how your rat cage is set up, what diet you plan to give them, and how you plan to care for them in general.

Two verifiable associations we recommend starting your search at are the American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association breeders list and the U.K.-based National Fancy Rat Society breeders list.

Breeders not registered on this list aren’t necessarily backyard breeders, which is why it’s important to verify the breeder yourself rather than buying blindly.

Two rats cuddling in a weaved basket

Pet Stores

Pet stores are quite controversial when it comes to adoption. It is often more accessible to most pet owners to adopt a rat from a pet store rather than from a breeder or rescue, you're saving the rat from a potentially harmful environment, and there's often a faster approval process for new owners.

Despite this, there are a large number of cons when it comes to purchasing your rats from a pet store rather than from a breeder or rescue. Most pet store rats are bred in large facilities that do not provide the same level of care as a reputable breeder. Additionally, these rat breeding facilities fail to take note of any health issues the rats may have, so the pet store will not be able to give you a history of the rats' health and what you should look out for.

Another issue with pet store rats comes to their care in the pet store itself. Pet stores typically give rats a single diet regardless of age, which means younger rats don’t get the extra protein they require. Overall, we don’t recommend buying your rat from a pet store, as it’s better not to support these practices.

Animal Shelters and Rescue Groups

Animal shelters and official rescues are another avenue we recommend pursuing. A strong point in their favor is that many reputable rescue organizations are officially registered as charities, which means there is more transparency in how they operate.

Once you’ve found a potential rescue, you can ask them many of the same questions you can ask breeders, the answers about their rat care should be fairly similar to a reputable breeder's answers.

Many rescues do have application processes to ensure their rescued rats are going to a proper home, so being prepared to welcome a rat into your home with the proper rat supplies and care plan is vital when choosing a rat from a rescue.

Online Platforms

There are also online platforms where you can find rats, such as rehoming groups on social media, where you can connect with owners looking to give their rats a better home.

Even though many rehoming groups have thorough vetting processes, asking questions of the current owner is crucial. Getting to know why they're giving away their rat can help you prepare for any issues you may encounter later on. If they seem hesitant to answer your questions or something about their answers seems off, we advise you to keep searching.

Rat on a cage peeping through the cage door

Importance of Buying From Reputable Sources

No matter where you get your rat from, you need to make sure you are buying it from a source that is reliable and puts in the best care possible. You will not only benefit as an owner knowing that you have a healthy and well-cared-for pet, but you will also help local and credible rat breeders sustain their practices and be able to provide other rat owners with pets of their own.

Ensuring Healthy Pets

Ensuring the pet you’re adopting is healthy is one of the biggest reasons to buy from a reputable source. In addition to preventing diseases such as respiratory diseases, kidney diseases, and parasites, these reputable places will also let you know if your new rat has any pre-existing conditions.

Since rescues often take in rats from abusive owners, rescue rats may have health issues that arose in these conditions. Official rescues will be transparent with new animal owners on anything they should be aware of, including any trust issues or anxiety issues.

Ethical Considerations

There are also many ethical factors behind choosing rescue centers or reputable private breeders. Choosing a reputable source is often in the best interest of the rat's welfare, as these sources can often be held to higher standards of care.

Supporting these organizations and breeders is the best way to endorse their care standards. Even if you want to save rats from dangerous conditions, putting your money towards unsafe practices will often enable them to live on.

Long-term Benefits

There are plenty of long-term benefits to choosing from a reputable source. In addition to the health benefits mentioned above, establishing a relationship with an animal rescue or breeder means that you can have a trusted source to go to if a rat unexpectedly passes and you feel the surviving rat is ready for a new companion.

There is also a lot of peace of mind that can be gained knowing that the rats you will be receiving are well-trained and have been properly cared for as early as possible.

Key Factors in Identifying Trusted Sources

While we’ve mentioned associations that have breeder directories, as well as the importance of asking plenty of questions, there are also some key factors that come into play when choosing a place to get your rat.

One of the most crucial factors is the setup made for their rats. Whether you’re looking at a breeder, rescue, pet store, or a former owner rehoming their rat directly, they should have little to no hesitation showing you what the rat's current home looks like, whether that is letting you visit them, or sending plenty of photos.

If you know rat owners in your area, you can also ask them for their recommendations, as word of mouth is one of the most reliable ways to find a reputable breeder.

White rat on a cage

Pre-Purchase Checklist

Now let's take a closer look at what you should be looking for when purchasing a rat from any sources you’re researching.

A good breeder, owner, or rescue should be able to tell you their rats' health history, including any past treated conditions, or ones they’re actively being treated for. Additionally, they should be very transparent about the diet they feed their rats, after being weaned, young rats should be on a lab block or pellet diet supplement with primarily protein treats, rescues, and current owners should ideally have a similar diet, but with more variety in treats including some fruits and vegetables.

Signs of healthy and well-taken care of rat include a full and shiny coat, bright eyes, and a friendly demeanor (while a rat may be reluctant with a stranger at first, they should feel comfortable with whoever is currently handling them.)

After-Purchase Care for Pet Rats

Even though you've found a reputable source, the work does not end there, as you need to ensure you have the necessary food, rat cage, toys, and ideally an exotic vet in mind once you've found the right source and chosen the right rat for you.

Become a Responsible Rat Owner

You are now about to embark on a new life as a rat owner, and it will be a wonderful and rewarding one. Once you’ve taken the steps to find and verify a reputable place to get your rat, you can get the proper supplies and bring your ‘fur-ever friend home.

There is so much more education on rats that we can share with you, so take a moment and check out our other blogs so you can ensure your rat lives a long and happy life!


Where should I get a pet rat from?

Although you can buy a rat from many places, we recommend going with an official animal rescue organization or an experienced breeder who has a proven track record of breeding happy and healthy rats.

How much is a pet rat?

This varies based on where you adopt a rat from, but the typical range is $15-$35 dollars. As rats are recommended to be bought in pairs, we recommend doubling this number when saving up to adopt.

Is it OK to buy one rat?

Rats are companion animals and as a result, it is not recommended that you buy one rat as they require a cage mate, and many breeders and rescues will not allow you to adopt a single rat unless you already own rats.

What breed of rat is best as a pet?

Dumbo rats and Burmese rats are considered by many owners to be the friendliest of all of the rat breeds, but any rat part of the 'fancy rat' species is considered to be a wonderful pet.


Have Questions About Where To Get Your First Pet Rat?

Email us at cages@qualitycage.com

Author Bio: Morgan Mulac

Morgan Mulac has been working as a freelance writer for five years and has developed a passion for exotic pets. Dedicated to learning about exotic animals from all over the world, she seeks ways to share her knowledge with new owners about how to better care for their animals. If Morgan is not researching or writing about exotic pets, you can find her enjoying a cup of coffee and planning her next adventure. https://morganmulac.com/

Leave a comment

Please note, comments must be approved before they are published

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.