Mice & Rats

Mice and rats are both in the rodent family. While they are different species, they share many similar traits and needs for care. Rats are larger than mice, and non-domesticated rats are typically more aggressive than non-domesticated mice. Both mice and rats are nocturnal, and typically live 2-3 years. They are social creatures, and prefer to live in same-sex couples or small groups. However, you should never house pet mice and rats together.

A typical mouse or rat diet includes:

  • Fresh water
  • Fresh pellets (main food supply)
  • Snacks of fresh fruits & veggies (no cabbage, chocolate, corn, candy, peanuts, uncooked beans or onions)

Mice and rats can slip through small spaces, and they are notorious for chewing their way out of enclosures! Be sure you purchase a sturdy, escape-proof enclosure (wire is recommended for ventilation), with plenty of room to climb, hide and nest.

Cage contents:

  • Bedding (aspen or hardwood shavings – no pine or cedar chips!)
  • Heavy ceramic food dish
  • Glass or plastic water bottle with a metal spout
  • Exercise wheel
  • Cardboard tubes (and/or specially-made rodent tubes)
  • Chew toy (any piece of untreated wood)
  • Small boxes (for burrowing)

Mice and rats are very organized, and prefer a clean environment.

  • Clean out discarded food, soiled bedding and pellets daily.
  • Once a week, remove and replace all of your pets’ bedding, after first scrubbing and drying her cage.
  • Provide something for her to gnaw on at all times (any small piece of wood that hasn’t been chemically treated).
  • Handle your pet daily.
  • Provide additional, supervised training daily.
  • Provide regular veterinary care.

The best way to pick up our rodent friends is to scoop them into cupped hands and hold them close to your body. Rats and single mice can become territorial of their environment, luring them out using food will prevent upset rodents. Never wake a sleeping rodent!


  • As rodents, mice and rats’ teeth grow continuously, so they need something to gnaw on all the time.
  • Rats can swim, and some enjoy it!
  • Mice can jump up to 18 inches in the air!
  • You can train your pet mouse or rat to sit on your shoulder and do other tricks.
  • Mice and rats have been kept as pets for hundreds of years.

Please note, articles in the Animal Resource Library are for reference only, and are not meant to diagnose or treat any medical or behavioral issues your pet may be experiencing.