$5 from the feeder bin at your local pet shop? $10 “pet only” rat from pet store chains? $30 from a private “pet” breeder? $60 from a show breeder? Lots of choices are actually available to you if you look for them. Why would you pay 30 or 50 dollars for the “same rat” you would get from a pet store chain? Why not save a life and spend the $5? Any breeder can be better or worse than the norm for what they focus on. Ask them what is the main reason they breed. Find out what their goals as a breeder are.

Many rat breeders are not going to fit neatly in these categories and not all people who primarily breed for food will be the same as what I mention here. My whole point in writing this is to encourage you to go to a breeder and talk to them. Find out who they are and what their goals for breeding are. Find a person who knows their rats.

FEEDER RATS are they the same as other rats? The simple answer is NO. You get what you pay for is another answer. Feeder rats are bred to be food. This means that they are bred with a few simple things in mind.  First, they are usually breeding for quantity not quality. Second, most feeder breeders do not keep rats for longer than a year and a half. At that point fertility decreases and there is no reason to keep an adult rat around. As such, they never know what illnesses their lines may carry later in life. Third, there is very little thought given to temperament(personality). Although it is possible to socialize a rat and make it become more docile this is not the rats real temperament, as such in stressful situations these rats are more likely to bite or flee. Usually, feeder breeders are equal to puppy mills in terms of what you will be bringing home if you are looking for a pet.

PET STORE RATS  can be a step up from “feeder bin” rats I find that many pet store rats tend to be jumpy and flighty. Most chain stores contact a breeder and request a certain number of pet rats from them within a set period of time. This means that often breeders selling to chains will also work to breed for quantity. Even if they keep records of health in later years for the rats it is unlikely you would be able to get access to those records. Basically buying rats from a pet store can be a gamble. You could be lucky and find a pet store that has great pet rats. Again, ask where they are getting their rats from and see how much they actually know about them.

PET RATS  can vary as much as dog breeds do. Ask questions. Hopefully, what you will find with a pet rat breeder is that they are focused on the best possible pet. This means focusing on health, temperament, and the way the rat looks. You should at the very least be able to find out if tumors or respiratory problems are an issue for their lines. You may have a birthday, parents, etc. You should not expect every pet breeder to allow you inside their home or their rattery. Some people have what is called a closed rattery. This means you cannot go inside their rattery. This is for the health of the rats. Many respiratory illnesses are very contagious and very common. If a rattery allows you to visit, you can expect to not see all the rats. Often they will have the rats you are interested in for you to meet and handle. Sometimes they will meet you somewhere. This is not unusual. Most pet breeders can tell you the personality of the rat you are choosing and will be very careful to not have rats that have bad temperaments.

SHOW RATS will be beautiful. Like dogs some lines are more friendly than others. Ask your breeder they should know what personalities to expect, how big your rats will be and what they will look like as adults. Cons with show breeders are some can be more interested in looks than temperament. It also may take a while to get what you want with a show breeder. They are very careful about what they breed and making sure that small litters are well cared for throughout their early life.


Rattery: a place where rats are bred

Temperament: Personality of a pet usually referring to nervousness and affection