If you’re a first-time pet owner or have a fondness for small creatures, a domesticated rat can make a great companion! Rats make good pets because they are not only low-maintenance and easy to handle, but rats are also affectionate and intelligent animals. For these reasons, more and more people are choosing to embrace these curious critters and have turned into true believers that rats do, indeed, make great pets.
Rats are social and affectionate creatures
These pocket-sized pets are very social and have a tendency to form strong bonds with their human family. If encouraged, rats enjoy resting on people’s shoulders and in their laps. Rats will socialize properly if picked up and handled from an early age. Owners should avoid holding a rat by the tail as this can be stressful and dangerous for the animal. Pet rats respond well to warmth and gentle contact from their humans and will reciprocate affection. Like dogs, when rats recognize people they have bonded with, they will often bounce around waiting to be noticed and picked up.
Because rats are so social, their emotional and physical health can suffer if left alone for too long. To combat loneliness, many experts suggest owning more than one pet rat. While they are happy to wake up in the daytime to play and receive treats, rats are naturally nocturnal. Owning more than one rat provides stimulation and companionship while humans sleep at night.
Training a pet rat is easy and fun!
Rats are playful, highly intelligent, and have a great memory. They enjoy interaction from training sessions and are quick learners. Positive reinforcement-based training can be a very rewarding experience for both owner and pet. The key is to find out what food treats your pet rat enjoys most, and then offer those “high value” foods during training sessions. “Up” (standing on two feet), “paw-shake” (touching a paw to a human finger), and responding when called by name are just a few simple and fun commands your furry friend can master in no time.
Rats are clean animals
Rats clean themselves often and have been said to be cleaner than cats and dogs! They do not like getting dirty and will spend hours a day grooming themselves. Rarely do these animals need bathing. Typically, pet rats only require regular baths if they have difficulty grooming themselves because of old age or obesity, or if an unneutered male is marking his territory.
Pet rats also like to maintain tidy living spaces. When there is food in their cage, they will gather and organize it into piles to keep things neat and orderly. If there are multiple rats living together, you’ll often find them cleaning one another other too.
Do all rats make good pets?
Can any rat make a good pet? The answer is no. There is a specific breed of rat, the Rattus norvegicus domesticus, that is bred to be calm and does not tend to bite. This species of domesticated rat is also known as the “fancy rat”. There are many varieties within this species and they can differ in color, coat, tail length, and shape of ears.
When considering ownership of any animal, doing the proper research on the pet’s care needs and finding veterinary care are both essential. Speaking with a few reputable breeders will also be helpful as you decide whether a rat will make a good pet for you.