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Home > Rodents > How Long Can You Leave Pet Rats Home Alone? (Vet Reviewed Facts)

How Long Can You Leave Pet Rats Home Alone? (Vet Reviewed Facts)

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Dr. Lauren Demos

Veterinarian, DVM

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Inquisitive, smart, and often affectionate rats are so much fun to spend time with that you could easily wile away the days just cuddling them, playing with them, and watching them explore. But what happens if you need to go away for a while? As a rule, pet rats should not be left alone for more than a couple of days and only if they have everything they need to be healthy and stimulated while you’re gone.

In this post, we’ll share all the information you need on safely leaving your rats at home when you’ll be away for a little bit. We’ll also explain how much time should be okay and how long is too long.


Can I Leave My Rats at Home for a Weekend?

pet rat eatng
Image By: jarleeknes, Pixabay

Though it’s ideal to have someone come in and check on your rats while you’re away, sometimes this just isn’t possible because you have to leave on short notice, or your neighbors or friends have a “thing” about rats. Your rats will likely be fine if you leave them at home for a weekend, provided they’re healthy and you leave behind everything they’ll need—including cage mates.

Rats are social animals and should not be bought or adopted alone—they should always live with at least one other rat or more. Not only does this help rats to feel more content in their daily lives, but it’s also a big help if you need to go away for a couple of days and know that they’ve got company.

In addition to making sure your rats won’t be lonely while you’re away, it’s hugely important to plan ahead and prepare their cage for the time you’ll be away. This includes things like:

  • Checking that your rats are healthy
  • Leaving out enough food (avoid leaving fresh food, like fruits and vegetables, that will go off)
  • Setting up enough water bottles in their cage so they’ll have plenty of options even if one falls off or gets clogged (remember that water dishes may quickly get gunked up with bedding and other bits from the cage)
  • Checking that the water bottles actually dispense water and aren’t blocked up in any way
  • Checking that their cage is clean before you go
  • Making their living environment as stimulating as possible (rats should always be kept in large cages with plenty of toys, sleeping areas, climbing spots, hammocks, etc.)
  • Consider adding new toys or platforms to their cage so they have something interesting to explore
  • Checking that their environment is secure so they won’t escape or get hurt or stuck anywhere
  • Making sure the room temperature is comfortable for your rats (not too hot or cold)
cute pet rat sleeping
Image By: Ezume Images, Shutterstock

Can I Leave My Rats at Home for a Week?

This is not a good idea because your rats will be cooped up in the cage for too long a period of time. As social and active animals that are no doubt used to being let out to explore every day, this may cause them quite a bit of stress.

Moreover, if there’s an issue, like one of your rats gets sick or they unexpectedly run out of food or water, a week is a long time for them to wait for you. You can also pretty much guarantee that the cage will be in a pretty gross state after a week of not being cleaned at all. In spite of their unfounded reputation for being unhygienic, rats are actually very clean animals that get stressed out by unclean environments.

If you’re planning on leaving for longer than a weekend, we recommend getting someone to come in and make sure your rats have everything they need and to let them out to explore and stretch their legs for a while. If you don’t know anybody willing to do this, it’s best to hire a pet sitter.



Though rats are hardy animals, they’re still sensitive to change and will certainly miss you while you’re away! For this reason, consider getting a pet sitter if you can, but if not, avoid leaving your rats at home alone for more than a weekend. If one or more of your rats is sick, they should not be left alone while you’re away.

Leaving your rats alone for too long without having anyone checking on them and interacting with them can result in stress which may even lead to illness in some cases, a dirty cage that makes them miserable to be in, and running out of crucial supplies like food and water.

Featured Image Credit: Denitsa Kireva, Pexels

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