Here I will list the basics of rat care and how to properly keep a rat as a pet...
-Should have adequate space for the number of rats you have and will be taking in.
-Cages- Should consider the type...
-Glass Aquariums- Usually have bad ventillation and can be bad for the rats respiratory system, especially if their cage is not cleaned very regulary.
-Plastic tunnel/hamster-mice cages- These cages may look fun, but should not be used for rats, some people think they could be fine for their baby rat, but they grow quickly and these cages are not big enough for rats.
-Wire Cages- These are the most common cages for rats, and the type of cage I would recommend. (I use a double level metal cage called a 'Critter Nation', which has become very popular among rat owners. There are smaller, cheaper wire cages that can work just as fine, but keep in mind the amounts of rats that can be housed in it.
-Homemade 'Groto' Style cages. Some rat owners have decided to make their own custom rat cages out of old book shelves, other shelving units, etc.
-There are multiple things you can use as bedding and all rat owners perfer different things.
-For me personally, I use fleece bedding as their base in their cages, with newspaper pellets in their litter boxes.
-Wood Shavings: If you choose to use wood shavings in the base of your rats cages, only use Aspen! Cedar and Pine bedding contain oils and such that can cause rats to obtain respiratory problems. Aspen safe, Cedar and Pine are not.
-Carefresh: Soft and fluffy bedding. This bedding comes in many fun colors to change up your cage. The down side is that this type of bedding can be expensive.
-Newspaper: Newspaper can be used, but it is not as absorbant as some of the other options and you need to be careful of the dyes in the paper from being soiled.
-Newspaper Pellets: These are recycled newspaper, made into little pellets and can be used as bedding or used in a rats litter box.
-Fleece Bedding: Fleece bedding has endless possibilites. You can get large pieces to cover the flooring, give them scraps of it to carry around and play with, etc.
-The type of diet you feed your rats is very important.
-Lab Blocks: Lab blocks are the most important part of a rat's diet. All rat's diets should consist of lab blocks. They provide all essential nutrients to a rat and important for their health. There are different brands, most people prefer 'Harlan Teklad' or 'Oxbow Regal Rat', which is more of a kibble looking food, opposed to a "block" look. There is also 'Mazuri' which is the brand most of the animals at the zoo ate when I worked there.
-Seed Based Food- Seedy type foods can be bad for your rats because most rats will pick through it and only eat certain parts of it, which can mean not getting all the nutrients they need and some pieces in some can be fatty. It can also be messy in the cage if they dig through it.
-Homemade Diet- Some people prefer to make their own homemade diet with lab blocks still being the main part of their diet, but also supplying other foods such as pastas, cereals, etc.
-Fruits & Vegetables- These are great for rats and they should have a little every day if possible. You will have to figure out which of these foods your rats prefer because some like different ones than others. Most like apples, grapes, carrots, peas, etc.
-Treats- Ratties love almost any food! Great treats are yogurt treats, made especially for rats, sold at most pet stores. Many other foods can be used as treats, except...
-Bad- There are some foods that are bad for rats, such as avocados, raw sweet potato, green potato skins, licorice, carbonated drinks, chocolate (in large amounts), and more. (Do research on the internet to find all foods rats should not have! If your not positive, don't give it to them.)
-Ideas for enrichment are limitless. Enrichment is adding things to your rats lives that will make living more enjoyable for them.
-Toys, balls, and wheels (ones with a surface small enough for their feet and ones that will not catch their tails)are all great toys for rats that they enjoy.
-Tubes, such as toilet paper rolls (if your ratty is small enough to fit in one!) are fun for rats to explore.
-Hanging Toys- Bird toys are great toys for rats, and there are many choices to choose from in the bird aisle.
-Wood chews- Most rats love to chew, and it is good for their teeth to wear them down some.
-Paper towel rolls, tissue boxes, paper towels with treats wrapped inside, etc. are all great, cheap 'toys' for your rats to enjoy.
-Free range time is great for a rat, rats are very curious critters and love to sneak around the room.
-Companionship- The best form of enrichment for a rat is usually another ratty friend/s to enjoy. Rats are very social creatures and usually enjoy the companionship of another ratty (of course if they are opposite sex, they should be altered).
These are all very basic ideas and there is MUCH more to learn about ratties and rat care.
Always research an animal you've never had as a pet before.
You may think you know what it takes to keep a certain animal, such as a rat, but through research and education you can always learn more and more, better ways to make the lives of those animals the best they can be!