I'm going to tell you how I care for my rats. I've researched my share of rat care info, and I think that different things work for different rats and their owners, and there is no set standard for what you MUST do in the care of your rat. So this is what works for us.
Food - I feed my rats good quality rat seed mixes, usually Nutriphase. I don't like changing their diet suddenly, so I generally stick with the same brand. Most breeders reccomend lab blocks for your rats... Mine hate these things. They won't eat them. Seriously. So whatever. They get their seed mix, and they are all quite healthy and not fat My rats also eat just about whatever I eat. I don't like to feed them meat and they don't get a lot of dairy,
but they can basically roam my plate if they want to. They eat everything from lettuce to broccoli casserole to cheese crackers. They all love variety, so that's what I try to supply them with. Oh, and they also enjoy a good sock if they can find one. Archimedes especially felt like he won the lottery when he pulled my jacket sleeve through the bars of the cage and had a feast on it. Yep, they definitely love clothing as an occasional treat.
Cage - I used 10 gallon glass aquariums for my gerbils, but I feel that's a bit too small for rats, and I also think they need more ventilation. So I use one-story wire cages and supply them with lots of toys.. Generally wooden houses, big tubes, dishes, old rags, etc. etc. They love anthing that you give them. And for that reason, you have to make sure that whatever you give them is safe, because they don't have a clue. They'll eat anything, so you must make sure that what you give them is okay for them to try and chew to bits.
Bedding - I started out using CareFresh for my rats. It's pretty good at absobing odors and it's not dusty or messy, but I'm really picky about the way my rat cages look, and CareFresh always looks dirty even when the bedding is freshly changed. So I switched to Yesterday's News, a recyled paper litter in pellet form. You can get a HUGE bag of the stuff for cheap, it smells good, and is so-so on odor absorbing. I also use Aspen sometimes. Just DO NOT use Cedar or Pine! They will kill your little guys! If you must use wood shaving, use Aspen. Otherwise, stick to paper products.