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Mice and Rats as Pets

In defense of the oft-reviled rodent family.

Petkeeping Television, January 2011

Mice and rats have a bad reputation. Sure, roof rats carried the flea that caused the bubonic plague, and some (okay, most) people cringe at the idea of keeping a rodent in the home ... on purpose. But as a domesticated pet, these furry acrobats are gentle, playful, and very clean -- making them a great choice for apartment dwellers.

Cage Care
Both mice and rats are social animals, so it's best to buy them in pairs or as part of a group. A pet rat will need a large wire cage with several levels. Mice, on the other hand, are comfortable in a smaller plastic cage as long as it includes a wheel and a water bottle. Add soft bedding made of recycled newsprint and change it at least two to three times a week. 

Rodent Diet
The diet of mice and rats is quite simple -- most commercial mouse and rat food contains a combination of grains. Feel free to give your rodent pals fresh vegetables as well as hard chew treats that will help them exercise their gnawing instinct.

Health Issues
Rats and mice typically have few health issues; the most common are upper-respiratory problems. However, they will usually only live for two to three years tops.

Learn more about keeping mice and rats as pets from the American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association.

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