Although rats are often thought of as disease-ridden, dirty, mean, and scary, this stigma couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, anyone who has had a pet rat is highly likely to tell you what wonderful little companions they are.
1. They’re Highly Social Creatures
Rats will gladly come out of their cages in order to explore and play. It’s usually best to keep a pair of rats of the same gender so that they always have company, even when you aren’t around to give them the attention they crave. When properly socialized and handled gently, a pet rat will be more than willing to sit in your lap or even hang out on your shoulder as you move around your house, and he or she will also be highly affectionate when properly cared for.
2. They’re Surprisingly Intelligent
In addition to being social creatures, rats are also surprisingly smart, and individuals have unique personalities. In fact, people have been able to train their rats by using rewards as incentives. Viewing their natural behaviors and seeing them learn is definitely one of the most enjoyable aspects of owning a pet rat.
3. They’re Actually Quite Clean
While most people think of rats as being dirty, the opposite is true. These pets will groom themselves diligently to remain clean, just like cats do, making sure to remove any dirt and debris from their bodies. If you have more than one rat, you’ll likely see them regularly bathing one another to help each other stay fresh and clean as well. This keeps the odor levels down and makes for a healthy pet you can handle without fear.
4. They’re Great Around Children
While under adult supervision, rats can be handled by children, but the same cannot be said for smaller pocket pets that are faster and harder to control. Also, other rodents, such as hamsters, are nocturnal, so they won’t want to play during the day when your children are ready to spend some time with their pets.
5. They’re Easy to Care For
Although rats are larger than a lot of other pocket pets, they’re easy to care for. Again, because they’re clean, maintaining a hygienic cage environment for them is simpler than it would be with other rodents. You can wipe down the sides of the cage and then take out old bedding and replace it with fresh bedding to keep your rat’s home odorless and safe.
When it comes to choosing the right cage for your rat, you have a few affordable options, which include a multi-level cage made for ferrets, an aquarium with a screen cover that allows for plenty of ventilation, or a wire cage, which is the best option because rats like to climb.
In terms of diet, the ASPCA recommends pellets, rat blocks, and fresh fruits and vegetables that will keep your rat lean and healthy. Certain foods should be avoided, though, and these include sticky substances like peanut butter, candy, chocolate, and onions, among others.
So if you’re ready to bring a rat into your family, consider saving a life by adopting one from a shelter.