Fancy Rat & Mouse Day is celebrated each year on November 12th, and if one of these tiny four-legged critters shares your life and home, it is a great time to be reminded of their proper care.

Some people are wary, even downright afraid of mice and rats, but fancy rats and mice, aka the domesticated brown rat and house mouse, are intelligent and affectionate creatures that can make ideal pets.  The domesticated brown rat, or Rattus norvegicus, gets his fancy name from the phrase “to fancy” (meaning to be fond of, or take an interest in) or the concept of animal fancy.  They are the cleverest of all tiny pets and can learn to perform minor tricks and even, learn their names.

Fancy rats and mice don’t require as much of your time as dogs, cats or rabbits do, but…they do need quality time spent with YOU!   Daily social interaction is a must and at least an hour of exercise outside their cage every day.  They have a large resource of energy which makes them an entertaining friend. Fancy rats delight in running on exercising balls and wheels, and they do like being social with you and also a friend.  They do prefer living in pairs or groups but do not house rats and mice together.  Also, with only a few exceptions, they do NOT get along with pet cats or dogs, so if you have other pets, provide your rat or mice and safe haven!

Rats and mice are curious and love to gnaw, so make sure dangers are out of reach. These critters are miniature garbage disposals and will consume almost anything.  Do, however, provide them with proper ways to grind down their ever growing teeth.

Use a calm, low voice around these tiniest of creatures as they have exceptional hearing and will flee and hide when exposed to loud sounds. Always handle your rodent pal gently.  To lift him, lightly hold on his tail to halt forward movement and support his body underneath by slowly sliding your other hand to gently pick him up. NEVER lift him by the tail!

Like with other furry friends, doing a weekly head-to-tail check can help you find a lump or bump (which rats are prone to) early on.

Basic Signs & Symptoms that Something is Not Right With Your Rodent and that you should get to your exotic veterinarian…


  • Not eating
  • Less, more or runny fecal matter
  • Increased breathing or heart rat
  • Sneezing, runny eyes or nose (check paws)
  • Tooth grinding, drooling or a wet chin
  • Not using a limb, swelling or lumps of any kind
  • Bleeding
  • Excessive drinking or dehydration


To learn more about carrying for pocket pets of all types, don’t delay, sign up for my FIRST AID BASICS class today and/or grab a copy of First Aid Basics for Rabbits & Pocket Pets so that you can learn about bumblefoot and other ailments, and be prepared for the longest lifetime possible with your furry friend.