The common rat or Rattus norvegicus is seriously under rated as a pet. Although relatively short lived, from 2 – 3 ½ years, rats can be a perfect first pet. Let us give you 10 good reasons to take a second look at the humble rat.
- Rats are small and easy to care for. They do well in a cage environment and in spite of their wild cousin’s bad reputation, are quite clean.
- Rats rarely ever bite. This makes them a good first pet for children unlike mice, gerbils and some breeds of hamsters. Male rats are more docile than the females and can be quite happy sitting in their owner’s laps or perched on their shoulder.
- Rats are smart! That’s why they are so popular for maze studies. Rats can be trained to come to you, climb ladders, play on swings and many other tricks. They are quick learners and love to perform for food treats.
- Rats come in lots of different colors and hair coats. There are many different varieties of fancy rats to choose from. They even have hairless rats for those with allergies.
- Rats have lots of personality. Their intelligence also gives rats very distinctive personalities. The more you interact with your rat, the more his/her individual personality will come out. They can actually become great companions.
- Rats are hardy. A healthy rat properly cared for rat will give you little reason for worry. The exception is, sadly, female rats which are highly susceptible to the development of mammary tumors.
- If you want more than one rat, a pair from the same litter will usually get along great. Just make sure you don’t mix sexes. Rats, like mice, are prolific breeders and will quickly multiply if left to their own devices.
- Rats do very well in a cage environment. For most rats, an aquarium with a wire lid or a wire cage with a smooth bottom would be suitable. Non aromatic shavings, shredded newspaper or other commercial rodent bedding together with a place to hide and sleep, feed bowls and ladders or other enrichment items will make cage life happy for your rat. Remember to keep the cage or there will be a build-up of unhealthy ammonia fumes.
- Most pet stores sell pet rats. Unlike some of the more exotic pocket pets, rats are easy to obtain and reasonably priced.
10. Rats are easy to feed. Again because we have been around rats for so long we, good commercial diets are available. Lab blocks are available at most pet shops. Of course, rats like variety too. They can be supplemented with commercially available treats such as yogurt drops, grains, seeds as well as fruits and veggies from the refrigerator. Rats can become obese if fed too many treats, so don’t over indulge them.
This is meant to be a quick over view into the wonderful world of rats. If you think you might be interested be sure to do your research first.