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How Much Do Rats Cost? (2023 Update)

By Eddie Chevrel


Updated on

Fancy rats are fun little critters that can be the closest companion you can expect as a pocket pet. If you are a first-time owner, you may be wondering what the real costs are going to be and what can you expect to pay for accessories, food, and health costs. This guide will give you an inside look at every cost of owning a rat from A to Z.

How Much Does a Pet Rat Cost?

The average cost of a baby rat is between $20-$50 apiece. Any average fancy rat is going to be white or black, but you will find many different colors in between. Special colors that are offered through breeders will usually cost more. As you will find, your first rat does not need to be an extra fancy breed since they will make great pets nonetheless. There are standard colors and then there are the special breeds that make a fancy rat more appealing. But as you can expect, rat breeders have more clout in asking for higher amounts with their rare breeds.

Fancy rats are specially domesticated rats that are bred privately and are not like their wild counterparts. If you are offered to pay a much lower price, beware that it may just be outgrown food that was intended for snakes. These rats tend to be more bitey and erratic since they are not from domesticated breeds.

Standard colors$20-50 USDwhite, black, brown
Special breed colors$50-150 USDagouti, powder blue, grey

Show quality rats

There are also rat appreciation societies that have fancy rat shows, putting their best rats on the big stage. Since these shows continue to help make rats more popular, these are opportunities for breeders to create new breeds. They use these shows as a calling card for their specially bred rats which they can sell babies to other breeders. If you are willing to get your hands on one of these fancy rats, be prepared to pocket out over $100 USD per rat.

Additional costs of owning a fancy rat

Now we get into the nuts and bolts of the correct cage, habitat, and diet for your fancy rat. Rats are going to need a few items in their cage to keep them busy, but you don’t have to spend so much money if you get creative.

An overview of the associated cost of owning a fancy rat

Cage$80-100 USDincluding a glass water bottle
Hiding house/nesting box$15-30 USD 
Feeder tray$20-30 USDcan be more depending on the style
Rat carrier$20-50 USDdepending on the style
Hammocks$5-10 USD 
Toys$15-40 USDexercise wheels and pipes
Rat pellets$20-30 USDper 10Lb bag- enough for 6 months
Dried snacks/goodies$5-10 USDdepending on what you buy
Saltlick$5-10 USD 

Rat Associated Cost – Initial, Week, Month, and Year Overview

Initial start-up cost$100-300 USDhousing/accessories/plus one rat
 $25-50 USDfood and snacks for the first 6 months
WeekLess than $1.00 per day for a single ratRats eat 1-2 tablespoons per day as adults
Month$5-10 USD per monthmonthly ongoing cost (mostly food)
Year$60-120 for basic food

What are some fancy rat health expenses?

Fancy rats will have a good lifespan that is just short of three years. You do need to give them a pumice stone so they can keep their teeth from growing too long. If you have a male and female you should get one of them neutered so you don’t have accidental babies.

Vet costs per year$50-100 USDalso consider the initial visit is the same
Injections$15-20for vitamin shots due to not eating – otherwise, they don’t need vaccinations
Various treatments$200 (or more)for any emergency visits

Other factors that will determine the price of fancy rats


1. Buying fancy rats from a pet store

Domesticated rats are very easy to find and are not banned in any state, since you will find rats nearly anywhere across the US. You need to make sure that you are buying a domesticated rat and not a rat intended to feed reptiles as these do not make good pets, even though their price tag is much lower.

2. Buying a fancy rat from a private breeder

Private breeders that are breeding rats will no doubt have domesticated rats. These rats are obviously handled more often and tend to be friendlier. These are the best choices for someone buying a fancy rat.

Because these rats have been bred to be good pets, they are much smaller than wild rats and have more variety in color. Their features will be more defined, giving a fancy rat more of a cute appearance. Because of select breeding, private breeders can ask for higher costs to create new and exciting colors.

3. Prices of an adult rat VS a baby rat

Generally, you want to buy a small baby rat so you can bond with them in a short amount of time. However, grown rats also make good pets and rats that are already domesticated are easier to belong to a new owner. Due to their short lifespan, older rats will be cheaper due to the time they have left. The price won’t differ much other than the asking price of pet stores or adopting them from the ASPCA.

Is the price of fancy rats much different in other countries?


  • In the UK, You can find most fancy rats selling for 10-15 British pounds which will be worth $14-20 dollars at most pet stores. Private breeders are asking as much as 70 British pounds for special Dumbo rats or special breeds.
  • For Canadians, fancy rats are just as popular and will range from $5-20 CAD which is $4-16 per fancy rat. Canadians seem to have much lower prices since they are more popular pets.
  • This is the total opposite for our friends in Australia which have a very unique and fragile ecosystem. Any introduction of a new pet could have devastating effects on their animals over there. This is why fancy rats are not allowed since there is too much risk of letting them get into the wild. In Queensland, there is one exception that allows locals to own black and brown rats that are indigenous to that region. Surprisingly, they do have a fancy rat society that breeds their rats to show quality.

Should I buy two rats or is one enough?

Your rat will be just fine by itself in its cage but if you get more than one, they need to be the same sex. The best combo is often two females since two males will be confrontational and more likely to fight. The good part is that two females will bond well and live peacefully.

Rats VS Other Small Pets – A Cost Comparison


Cost of Rats VS Mice

Mice are cheaper than rats but their size is much smaller, so their price is half of what rats will cost, starting at $10 USD. Mice can also be very jumpy and have a more rodent-like attitude, which is bothersome for some owners who want a cute little pet. This is why rats are considered more suitable for children since they are very sweet once they get used to them.

Cost of Rats VS Gerbils

Gerbils are a bit bigger than mice and will cost you around 10-40 dollars per gerbil. This is still cheaper than a rat but will need a longer taming period. Gerbils just don’t come close to being as friendly as rats tend to be.

Cost of Rats VS Hamsters

The closest runner-up for a pocket pet is a hamster and might be tempting for those who are thinking of which to choose. Hamsters are cheaper at $5-15 per hammy and are usually good with kids. But most people who have owned rats before will recommend a rat over a hamster every single time.

What are some typical rat health-related issues?

Most rats don’t have many health problems if you keep their cage clean and tidy. They do get tumors more often that can be triggered by the wrong kind of wood shavings. But since they live such short lives, treating any kind of illness may not be helpful for your rat. Aside from this, here is what to look for if they do start getting sick:

  • Tumors
  • Bumblefoot
  • Ear infections
  • Scabbing on ears or eyes
  • Tooth Abscesses
  • Strokes
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About Eddie Chevrel

Eddie Chevrel is an animal journalist and the founder of ThePetSavvy. He's very passionate about exotic pets and spends most of his free time doing research, meeting, and interviewing people working with animals. Learn more about The Pet Savvy's Editorial Process.