Owning and caring for a pet rat can be a great experience, but when you own one or are considering owning one, you find yourself wondering how long do pet rats live or what a pet rat’s lifespan is like. Pet rats, in fact, have quite an interesting lifespan to learn about. I’m here to help you understand more about your pet rat’s lifespan and how long do pet rats live, and what factors play into how long they live, or how you could improve your pet rat’s lifespan in how you care for it.
So, here’s everything you need to know about pet rats lifespan or the question of how long pet rats live.
How long do pet rats live
On average, pet rats have an expected lifespan of anywhere between 1 and 3 years. Some have been reported to live upwards of 4 to 5 years, but that’s a less common occurrence, so it’s better estimated that healthy rats usually live between 2 and 3 years. Some care factors can impact the true value for how long do pet rats live and how they live out their lives.
This is partially also due to their genetics. Pet rats were bred from wild rats, which live on average less than a year. Being cared for well and domesticated added to their lifespan but not by a ton because they’re small animals and genetically meant to have shorter living times.
You can help elongate your pet rats’ lives to some extent in most cases and according to many rat lovers and experts. However, you do have to understand that the general answer to how long do pet rats live is 2 to 3 years on average. To better understand why this is such a short number, you should know some things about pet rats’ lifespan and growth.
Pet rats lifespan
To put the conversation on pet rats’ lifespan into perspective, once pet rats reach adulthood, each month of their life is estimated to be equivalent to approximately 2 and a half-human years. Since pet rats reach full “adulthood” at around 5-6 months of age, a pet rat that lived 2 years will have lived our equivalent of around 48 adult years of life. That’s not including their growth periods in the first 5-6 months. But let’s get into a little bit of information about how a pet rat’s lifespan plays out.
Baby rats grow quickly and develop quicker. Baby pet rats are independent of their mother by their first month of living. After 6 weeks of living, a pet rat is sexually mature. This basically means the rat has already gone through the human equivalent of puberty and can have children. It’s also the beginning of the best window to get a pet rat, between 6 and 8 weeks old. However, pet rats take longer to fully mature in the sense of their social structure and interactions.
Pet rats reach adulthood, where they’re fully matured at around 5-6 months, although full adulthood is considered to be closer to a year old by most experts. Generally, once a pet rat has reached over a year old, it can be harder to train them and lead to a more sluggish and sleepy rat.
That’s a lot of information to take in, but it gives you a better idea of rat equivalents for human years to some degree. A rough estimate made using various sources calculates pet rats to be around 75 human years old by the time they’re two and a half years old. That’s pretty crazy, but it does explain why the answer to how long do pet rats live is such a small number. Understanding pet rats lifespan gives you something to consider if you want to breed your rats or some useful information to understand their timelines. But, is there anything you can do to help improve their time of living and lifespan?
What improves a pet rat’s lifespan
As with many pets, you can do or pay attention to things to improve your pet rat’s lifespan and result in a better answer to the question of how long do pet rats live. It’s important to understand what to feed your pet rat and proper pet rat nutrition before getting your rat so that you can give them the best nutrition to support their life.
What to look out for
You can tell that your pet rat is getting old when they become less energetic, have less muscle use or strength (specifically in their limbs and tails), or begin to move abnormally due to deteriorating muscles or even arthritis. However, rats genetically are prey items, so they’re excellent at hiding signs of age or illness. To be sure your pet has the best pet rat lifespan it can have, keep a close eye out for unusual behaviors.
Illnesses are varied in pet rats, but you should definitely look out for common respiratory illnesses. Signs of a respiratory illness in a pet rat include sneezing and abnormal eye or nose discharge.
Being sure to follow these tips and keep an eye out for any unusual or illness-related behaviors ensures a better pet rat’s lifespan. It gives you a better chance to answer the how long do pet rats live question with a higher range. It’s important to give your rats veterinary care when needed and be attentive to give them these opportunities for healthy and long-living.
Now you know some more about pet rats’ lifespan and how they live their lives, and how what you do as a pet rat owner could impact their lifespan or length of life. It’s nice to know how long do pet rats live before you set out to have one or when you’re caring for one, as well as some of these tidbits about pet rats lifespans, to understand better your pet and how to give them the best quality of life.