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Do you have a pet rat or planning to have a rat? Then you must come across the confusion that how long do rats live? Here in this article, we will discuss the lifespan and many more related to rats.

When talking about the time during the 1800s, rats began to make their transition from pests to pets. The time Before the 1800s, they were considered uncontrolled pests and thus employed many people in pest control care. But later some unique white rats were bred having different colors and traits.

This increases the trend to tame the rat in houses. After this, rats began to be sold as pets and many people started showing interest in domesticating the rats.

When talking about the lifespan of the rats, pet rats generally lives between 1 to 2 year. Rarely their lifespan may extend to 3 years. But with advanced veterinarian services, proper rat care, feeding, and health care, many rats reported living as long as 4 or more years in domesticated situations. But when it comes to the average life span of a dumbo rat, it is between 2 to 3 years.

How Long Do Rats Live?

As mentioned above, the general life expectancy for a rat is between 2 to 3 years. With proper care, feeding, and the best veterinarian service, it is possible to increase the lifespan of rats up to 4 or more years. Recently some pet rats were reported to live for more than 4 years.

How Long Do Fancy Rats Live?

Fancy rats are not much different from normal rats. The fancy term is used here to describe all the pets or domesticated rats. It is not a specific breed for the rat.

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Fancy or domesticated pet cute rats come in a variety of color options, hairless, or sometimes tail fewer rats. The lifespan for these fancy rats is also the same as any other pet rat.

How Long Does a Wild Rat Live?

The lifespan of rats in the wild condition is between 6 months to 11 months. Most of the wild rats will not be able to make their first birthday.

In wild conditions, rats need to face several dangers in comparison to pet rats. Rats in wild conditions have danger from several predators like wild cats, dogs, wolves, and other wild animals.

Also, in the wild condition, there are more fluctuations in the rat food supply for the dumbo rats. Rats in wild situations may die due to a shortage of food supply.

How Long Do Rats Live as Pets?

As mentioned above, pet rats have a general life expectancy of 2 to 3 years. As they have more facilities and less danger from predators, they have more chances to survive a long life.

Read also: Best 15 Tips For Rat Diet

There is less shortage of rat food supply for pet rats and also they are less prone to predators. In domestic conditions, pet rats are offered a balanced and nutritious diet, they get proper veterinary care, and many more facilities. All these factors contribute to a longer life span for how long rats live as pets.

Why Do Rats Live Only for 2 to 3 Years?

Several factors resulted in the limited lifespan of the rat. These include genetics, activity level, dietary habits, and illness. The genetic makeup of the rats makes the rats more prone to illness and poor immunity and thus less lifespan. Less activity of pet rats resulted in obesity and thus a shorter lifespan.

How to Extend the Lifespan of the Pet Rat?

The owner by adopting simple habits can make their rat live for a how long do rats live. These are:

  • Let your rat stay free and active. When the rat is more active, they will be less likely to be obese and thus have more life.
  • Feed your rat with antioxidants and a probiotic-rich diet.
  • Never let your field rat eat the entire day.
  • Do not put food bowl the entire day.

What Factors Can Decrease the Rat’s Life Span?

Several factors can decrease our rat’s life expectancy. Some of these are:

  • The first and most important danger to rats is predators. Attack from predators often kills the rat before the completion of the rat’s life span.
  • Respiratory diseases are another common reason that decreases the life expectancy of rats.
  • Cancer is also more frequently seen in rats. They can also lead to less life span in rats.
  • Many more health issues can impact negatively on the lifespan of the rat.
  • Inbreeding in rats can affect the rat’s life span negatively. There are chances that the undesirable traits and many hereditary health issues may transmit because of the inbreeding in the fetus.
  • There is also a requirement for proper nutrition for better health. In shortage of rat food and a nutritious diet, your rat might die before time.
  • Some human foods are toxic to rats. So make sure that you are feeding your rat with the feed that is safe for them. Several pest control toxins available in the market often kill them before time.

Pet Rat Lifespan and Health Issues:

Along with feeding your rat a nutritious and balanced diet, there is a requirement that you always monitor your pet rat for several health conditions.

Read also: Best List of Safe Foods for Rats

Pet rats are vulnerable to several health-related issues. Some of these are:

Respiratory issues:

This is very common in rats and often causes a decrease in the life expectancy of cute rats. You should monitor your rat for any nasal or eye discharge and sneezing. Most of the infections in the respiratory tract of rats are bacterial and can be treated easily with antibiotics if diagnosed early. But in case of carelessness, it can lead to the death of the rat.

Also, you can prevent such infections by keeping the cage for the rat clean.


The mammary tumor is very common in female rats. Fortunately, it is benign and can be treated. Monitor your rat, if you feel any lump, consult your vet.

Skin parasites:

Rats, especially in stressed conditions, become more vulnerable to skin parasite infestation. It is difficult to treat. So prevention is way better than treatment. You should keep the cage clean.

General Health Tips for Rats

  • Rats tend to hide their illness. So it is your responsibility to monitor the health of your pet rat.
  • Weigh the rats regularly. A small deviation in their weight is an indication of illness in rats.
  • Monitor your rat for hair loss or any other skin problems. Also, don’t ignore the change in color and odor of a white rat’s urine or feces.
  • Rats are sensitive to direct heat and sunlight. So make sure your pet cute rat is protected from it.

How to Increase the Rat’s Life Span?

How long do rats live also depends on the care from your side? With proper care, you can increase the life span of this little friend. Offer them nutritious and healthy food. Monitor them for any health issues. Consult your vet for further precautions.

The Bottom Line

So this was a complete guide on how long do rats live. I hope this article helps you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do male and female rats have different lifespans?

Male and female rats typically have similar lifespans. Lifespan is more influenced by genetics, care, and environment.

Can you increase a pet rat’s lifespan with a special diet?

While a balanced diet is essential, there’s no specific diet that can dramatically increase a rat’s lifespan. Providing proper nutrition is key.

What are some signs that my pet rat is aging?

Signs of aging in rats can include reduced activity, weight loss, changes in fur color, and a decrease in dental health.

How can I make my pet rat’s living environment more comfortable as it ages?

You can provide softer bedding, and ramps for easier movement, and ensure the cage is free from drafts and sudden temperature changes.

Are there any natural remedies to extend a rat’s lifespan?

While there are no guaranteed natural remedies, providing a healthy diet, regular exercise, and mental stimulation can promote a longer, healthier life.


In summary, the lifespan of rats can vary depending on whether they are wild or domesticated. While wild rats face many challenges that can limit their longevity, pet rats can live longer, healthier lives with proper care, nutrition, and a safe environment. Understanding the factors that influence rat lifespans is crucial for providing the best possible care for these intelligent and endearing creatures.

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