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How Many Babies Can A Rat Have? How Often Does A Rat Reproduce?

One of the biggest concerns for anyone in a rat-infested area is, how many babies can a rat have? It is also a valid concern for anyone who wants to keep a rat as a yet. Yes, rats are also adorable pets, although, in some areas, people still see rats as pests. Whichever the case, you are better off knowing their breeding characteristics for your planning purposes.

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How Many Babies Can A Rat Have?

Rats breed litters of cubs at a go. If they are in the right environment for their survival, then you can expect 5 to 10 cubs at a go, depending on the species. The fertility of the female rat will also determine the number of cubs it has at any given time. Meaning, the closer the female rat is to menopause, the fewer cubs it will birth. Rats start hitting menopause at around 18 months of age. 

Within 6 months of their birth, female rats are already mature and can get pregnant. The rats’ gestation period is between 21 to 24 days: the most common rat species, brown in color, births 5 to 10 cubs at a time.  

Also, rats can mate up 17 times in a year, theoretically. In real life, though, rates’ mate for 5 to 7 times in a year. Why? Unlike humans, rats’ breeding strategy is for survival purposes. With such a short gestation period, it is clear why they have that many cubs. 

Unfortunately, their cubs have a low survival chance. But, in a friendly environment with plenty of food and the right temperatures, the cubs have a higher chance of surviving. 

Rats are social animals and prefer living in large colonies. Given their high breeding rate, you can find yourself with dozens of rats in your homestead, whether you are keeping them as pets or not. 

Keeping a rat as a pet

Rats make cute pets. They are loyal to a fault and very smart. Rats share at least 97.5% of their working DNA with that of humans. 

Unfortunately, due to their short life span, they are not the best pets for children. Also, rats are carriers of various diseases, even after vaccination. If one is not careful around rats, there are high chances of contracting diseases like rabies. Additionally, if you have allergic reactions, then rats might not be the right pet for you. 

Given the high breeding rates of rats, it would be best if you do not keep different genders in the same cage. If you do have pet rats of different sex, then keep them in separate cages to avoid having a litter of cubs all over your house every few months. 

How to tell if your rat is pregnant

Pregnant rats do not have any signs early in their pregnancies. It is, therefore, a bit difficult for you to tell. A few days into their delivery, you will start noticing some changes, like aggressiveness. Do not try to touch your pet at this point as they get territorial. 

The best way to tell is to get a professional opinion. Rat’s are very good at hiding their pregnancy and only a specialist eye will be able to tell if they are really pregnant or not. Even if you are very sure they are not, but you notice unusual behaviour that you feel may be the early signs of labour, like nesting, then bring them along to your local vet.

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A vet is better at telling whether your pet is pregnant. But if you do not take your pet to the vet often, you will be surprised to find a litter of cubs in the cage. 


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