Understanding Pet Rats and Hibernation: Important Information to Keep in Mind


As a first-time rat parent, you may be seeking all the information available. After all, having an animal that hibernates all winter can be overwhelming! But thankfully your rat does not hibernate during its winter seasons!

But, what about their behavior? As seasons change, do they require different accommodations? Luckily for us–in a cage environment–this question doesn’t really have an answer yet. Let’s investigate further.

What Is Hibernation? mes Hibernation is the act of animals making physiological adjustments in order to preserve energy reserves during winter months when food supplies become limited, typically by slowing their heart rates and dropping body temperatures as part of an unconscious state known as hibernation.

Hibernating animals still maintain some level of awareness when hibernating; their bodies simply adjust accordingly in response to harsh winter temperatures when food sources may become scarcer.

Image Credit: Robert Eastman/Shutterstock
Rats & Winter Rats are omnivorous animals that feed on almost anything–living or dead. Their diet differs slightly between captivity and their wild cousins; since captivity ensures they do not need to build up reserves for winter survival reasons, their behavior rarely alters during this season.

Domesticated Rats Domesticated rats do not experience the seasons like wild ones do. Instead, they were raised in captivity where their life can differ greatly from that of their wild ancestors. Pet rats tend to be pampered, docile and smart creatures compared with wild rats; but since they lack survival instincts that would propel their behavior if in the wild.

Rats are known to be naturally hoarders. If you own one as a pet, you know just how adorable it can be to watch them sneakily snag food and run off to stash it somewhere safe. Multiple rats may prove more advantageous, although they can sometimes become more selective about how much food is given out each week.

Rats have an instinctual drive to store food away in piles. Instead of eating all their food at once, they take available items and store them away under pieces of material or in little huts or other hiding spaces until later use.

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