Socialization: Rats should be kept in at least same sex pairs, and in my opinion, the more the merrier. They are social creatures and require the company of other rats to be completely happy. We can love them and play with them all day, but we can never take the place of another rat as a companion. Rats are very smart, sweet, curious, loving and funny. They require supervised outside cage time daily. They love to explore, run and play.
Diet: The issue of what to feed our pets, for many is an ongoing cycle of research and decisions. As new research is done and new diets tested, opinions change. You will find a lot of controversy and choices when it comes to feeding your pets, especially rats. Our rats are currently free fed a staple diet of Harlan Teklad lab blocks, we use the 2018 formula for the girls/young rats and the 2014 for the older boys. Our rats are also given various types of "people" food daily: Fresh vegetables and fruits, pasta, yogurt, bread, rice, cereal, oatmeal, whole wheat or grain bread and occasionally low fat cheeses.
Some people do prefer to feed dog food to their rats, If you decide to use dog food, make sure you choose a high quality, low protein and low fat one. Definitely do not feed hamster or a rat seed mix as a sole source of nutrition; in my opinion, these are nutritionally inferior and many rats will sift through it and only eat certain things.
Health: Rats can and do have health problems, especially as old age approaches. Having a rat savvy veterinarian is highly recommended. New rats should always be quarantined in an area with a separate air source, before being exposed to your current rats. The length of the quarantine is also highly debated, with 2-4 weeks being the most common time frame used.
Housing: Rats should not be housed long term in aquariums. It does not allow for proper ventilation, stimulation or climbing. Multiple story wire cages are the best choice, the bigger you can accommodate the better.
Stimulation: Rats love to play. They require toys, wheels and other objects to keep their little minds busy. They also love hammocks, and yes they will most likely chew them up over time, but that is all part of the fun.