Rats often get a bad rap and many people will not like to sound of having one anywhere near their house. That can be with good reason as they can carry diseases that affect humans and any leading vet will tell you to avoid kissing one!
Despite all the negative stigma, rats are very intelligent, social, playful and clean animals and they can make amazing pets. They are easily domesticated, trainable and they love the company of humans once to get to know you. Wild rats and domesticated rats are opposites similar to house dogs and wild wolves.
Wild rats and pet rats are often thrown in the same hat but they should be thought of differently. If rats are socialised and cared for from birth, there is literally no risk of them becoming aggressive and a low risk of them spreading disease. Humans have been breeding rats for 100’s of years.
Rats generally live for about 2 to 3 years which can be good for a beginner or intermediate as you don’t have to plan your whole life around getting the pet and they are relatively low maintenance despite requiring socialization everyday.
If you’re here to decide where a pet rat is right for you, you’ve come to the right place!
Pet Rats Like Company
If you leave a pet rat on its own, it will quickly become lonely and depressed so it’s unfair to keep them locked in the cage all the time on their own.
You should look to keep at least two rats together and prepare for daily playing with your animal outside the cage. They are also very fast reproducers, a female rat can fall pregnant within 3 months and female rats just after giving birth can be pregnant again within 24-hours.
It is probably best for this reason to keep groups of rats of the same sex to avoid excessive mating. Pet rats become happy when they’re playing and they are often known to make a chirping sound when they are happily engaged in an activity.
There are tons of different breeds of rats from street rats, to sewer rats to even Norwegian rats which can grow up to 20 inches in length!
They come in all different colours from white to brown to black or cinnamon and usually have dark or pink eyes.
What Kind Of Habitat Do They Need
To keep rats, you should get as big of a wire cage as possible as they would like to move around a lot and climb if possible.
There are some excellent multi-level rat cages available on Amazon and the different levels would offer endless fun and movement for your pet’s especially if you include plenty of toys on each floor.
You need to deck the cage out with water for them to drink, food bowls and bedding. We particularly like hemp bedding but any dust free bedding will be perfect and help to avoid any respiratory problems.
They need a nest where they can sleep and enjoy some peace and quiet and a cardboard box with hemp bedding will be perfect for this.
Rats can also be litter trained and this will help to keep the cage clean. Rats themselves are very clean by nature, they will spend a good part of the day licking their coat and grooming themselves.
Rat Proofing Your Home
Rats need to come out of their cage to play for at least one hour per day and in order to facilitate this, you will need to rat proof your home. This would include covering any cracks in the floor boards, gaps underneath your doors and windows as rats can escape through seemingly impossible holes.
You need to cover all your wires with piping as rats will love to chew through wires.
Socialising With Your Pet Rat
It might take some time for your pet rat to trust you so at the start you need to just let them move around your rat proof room as rats are generally shy and timid by nature choosing to avoid conflict if they feel threatened wherever possible.
Start playing with your rat in their cage where they feel comfortable. Rats play with each other by nibbling and wrestling with each other so if you treat your hand like another rat he can quickly learn to play with you.
If the rat bites too hard you can make a squealing noise and pull away so that they will quickly learn not to bite that hard.
Perfect Toys For Rats
Rats love to chew and an interesting fact is that their teeth never stop growing. By giving them plenty of chew toys such as cardboard from toilet paper rolls and egg box cartons, you can keep them amused and keep their teeth sharp and short.
Plastic tubing also makes for good toys it’s important to avoid anything that might poison or injure your pet rat.
Other perfect toys for your rats cage include hammocks, pet tunnels and balls of string or yarn that they can nibble on and push around the cage.
What Do Pet Rats Eat
An interesting fact about rats is that they can last longer without water than camels who are native to the desert. In terms of diet, rats are omnivores. By their nature they will pretty much eat anything to ensure their survival.
Specially formulated rat food which can come in the form of pellets is generally considered the best way to give them a healthy diet with the least amount of hassle but there are also plenty of natural foods that you can feed them.
Healthy greens and starchy carb vegetables like broccoli, spinach, kale, whole wheat pasta, sweet potatoes, bread, peas, cheese, carrots can all be packed full of Iron and essential vitamins.
Natural dog food can provide some good protein and you can also give them nuts and yoghurt as part of a varied and nutritional diet.
Are Rats Good Pets For Children
Rats that are socialized and domesticated early are excellent pets for children, there is no risk of them becoming aggressive although it is always advisable to never leave the children with the pet rat unaccompanied to make sure they are not handled incorrectly.
You need to teach your children to avoid touching the pets with their mouths and to wash their hands after handling your pet rat as they may carry disease.
If you’re getting pet rats for your children, is important to note that the adults will always have to take responsibility for the animals well-being but there is no issues with having pet rats for your kids once they are socialized from birth.
Best Place To Get A Pet Rat
The best place to get one is from A reputable breeder or a pet shop. Make sure they have been desexed and that they are at least 6 weeks old.
The person working in the Pet Shop should be able to handle the pet without any issues and they should be able to explain to you what sex the pet is as well.
When buying from a pet shop you should also make sure that they are kept in a cage with ample space and that they have sufficient water and are being cared for properly.
Are Pet Rats Affectionate Do They Like To Cuddle
Pet rats will certainly bond with human owners, they love human companionship and that of other rats. In the wild they live in large colonies and they’re very social animals.
They may not feel comfortable cuddling with humans out the open but if you cuddle them in their cage or wrap them up in your hoodie they will love the attention and the affection that you show them. They will often nibble and lick on your hand and to show their affection towards you.
Do Pet Rats Bite
Rats are like dogs when it comes to biting, they will rarely do it. To avoid any issues you should tell any strangers that its best not to put their hands into his cage as they can be territorial.
Make sure that your hands don’t smell like food or your pet rat may mistake it for a tasty treat. If there are baby rats in the cage avoid being too over active around them as they may try to protect their babies.
Avoid startling your rat, teasing them with food are being overly aggressive with them and you should be fine.
Another con of owning a rat is that they tend to mark their territory by leaving drops of urine where they walk. Neutering and desexing will almost always eliminate this behaviour which is especially prevalent in males.
Rats May Not Do Well With Other Pets
Rats may be seen as prey animals by cats and dogs and that might not be a good mix. Rats may also not accept any other rodents in the house, they are known to kill mice and they might not like gerbils or hamsters either.
Rats Are Nocturnal
Since rats are nocturnal they will be most active with humans early in the morning and late at the evening so perfect for anyone working nine to five, and they will often squeak and press against their cage in an effort to be allowed out to play.
Do Female Or Male Rats Make Better Pets
Male rats tend to be larger and less active than their female counterparts and are a little bit more lazy. That being said, they both make great pets for the right person.
Do Rats Recognise Their Owner
Rats form bonds with their human owners. They are social animals and they will get to know and care about you very deeply. Rats can go into depression or get very lonely if they’re apart from their loved ones for too long then you may need to gain their trust again if you go away for too long.
Can You Potty Train A Rat
Young rats are easily potty trained, they are intelligent creatures and will pick it up quite quickly. Even adult rats can be trained to use their litter.
Should I Bathe My Rat
They are very clean by their nature and they don’t need to be bathed generally but sometimes their tails do get a bit dirty and a can benefit from some hot water.
Pet Rats Like To Swim
Rats are very strong swimmers and they can even survive in water for 3 days just wading so they are strong and proficient and they can enjoy to swim.
Do Rats Make Noise At Night
Rats are nocturnal so they will be more active in the late evening and through the night. They are generally very quiet but if they do make any noise that will also be more frequent at night.
Interesting Rat Facts
Rats Show Empathy
They have empathy for the other rats in the group if one is injured or sick they will band together to look after the less fortunate.
Rats Teeth Never Stop Growing
This is why they love to chew so much to keep their teeth sharp and from getting too long.
Rats Like To Be Tickled
Tickling your rat is likely to make them squeal with delight and they love to play and wrestle with their human contemporaries.
Rats Regulate Their Body Temperature Through Their Tail
Their tail is like a thermometer for their body and if they are too cold it will produce heat and if they’re too hot it will help to cool them down.
Rats Succumb To Peer Pressure
Rats are heavily influenced by the others in their group and even if they are engaging in destructive behaviours are eating poisonous foods then they will also engage in this behaviour even to their own detriment.