The Lifespan of a Pet Rat

Pet rats are smart, affectionate and playful little companions that are an amazing pet. However, their lifespan is too short with the average lifespan of around 2 years. Where you get your pet rat from and their diet can assist in allowing them to live a longer life.

What is the Lifespan of a Pet Rat?

Domesticated rats tend to have a longer lifespan than wild rats. Domesticated rats have a constant supply of food, water, shelter, medical care and are protected from predators such as snakes, owls, foxes and hawks. The average lifespan of a fancy rat is between 2-3 years while wild rats have a lifespan of approximately less than 1 year.

Fancy Rats Lifespan

Fancy rats have traced genetic lines and are bred in ratteries by experienced rat owners. Fancy rats are less likely to be prone to respiratory diseases or tumours and can live up to 2-3 years. It’s important to research possible breeders before you purchase a pet rat as some breeders are irresponsible. Over-breeding, breeding from feeder rat origins or incorrect living conditions are things you should look out for when you’re looking into getting pet rats, as these can lower the rats lifespan.

Wild Rats Lifespan

Wild rats have a lifespan that is much lower than that of a fancy rat. Most wild rats never get to reach their first birthday. Prey animals, cars, rat traps, poison and food shortages are the common causes of death. Expert reports show that the average lifespan of wild rats is approximately 6-11 months.

Feeder Rats/Store Bought Rats Lifespan

Rats that are bought from a pet store, also commonly known as feeder rats, are sold as pets as well as food for predator animals such as snakes. Rats that are bough from a pet store are known to have come from weak genetic lines and are more prone to illness, cancers and aren’t expected to live for as long as fancy rats. Most store bought rats will have a lifespan of approximately 12-24 months. In some cases, pet stores will get rats from local fancy rat breeders and with good care, diet and environment, your store bought pet rat could live for as long as 36 months.

The Oldest Rat

According to the 1995 edition of The Guinness Book of World Records, Rodney was the oldest verified rat to live. Rodney was born in January 1983 and died on the 25th May 1990, making him 7 years and 4 months old. He belonged to Rodney Mitchell in Tulsa, Oklahoma. There are no studies that show how or why Rodney lived to that age but it’s possible that factors such as living environments, diet and exercise are a possibility to a longer life expectancy.

How Old is my Rat in Human Years?

Rats are such small animals and only having a life expectancy of 2-3 years is too short. Rats age extremely fast and because of that, if you ever suspect that your pet rat may be sick, you should get on top of it straight away.

Rat YearsHuman Years
1 day3 months
6 days1 year, 6 months
1.5 weeks3 years, 6 weeks
3 weeks6 years, 3 months
6 weeks12 years, 5 months
6 months18 years
12 months30 years
18 months45 years
24 months60 years
36 months90 years

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