These friendly, curious, affectionate animals are unfortunately ignored by many people. Say the word "rat" and most people think of wild rats, but domestic rats are as different from wild rats as dogs are from wolves! Rats have an average lifespan of 2 to 3 years and are thought of as the most intelligent of the pocket-pets. Most make excellent companions are very social animals who love to interact with people. Housing for your rat is very important. A rat cage should be as large as possible to allow for exercise, play, multiple levels and adequate ventilation (4 cubic feet is required for one rat with an extra 2 cubic feet for each additional rat). Wheels are often a favourite toy and PVC pipes make excellent tunnels. Also check out bird toys such as ladders and nut rings. Ferret tents, hammocks, swings and tunnels are usually popular. Large cotton ropes made for birds can be strung across wire cages. Let your imagination run wild! Pine and cedar shavings are toxic to small animals and should not ever be used. Hardwood shavings are the best, such as aspen. Other acceptable litters are paper products such as Bio-Flush, Care FRESH, and Yesterday's News. A rat diet should be 80% good quality lab block and 20% vegetables with the occasional fruit or treat. Because they are rodents, rats have a tendency to chew. Your rats' play area should be "rat proofed." Remove items you don't want chewed. Some rats also have a tendency to urine-mark, leaving small drops of urine where they walk (spaying or neutering reduces this). Remember, as with all pets, owning rats is a responsibility and your rats may need veterinary care or treatments sometime in their lives.