When my son first approached me about buying a rat for a pet, I was hesitant. Rats get such a bad rap.
But Tyler had done his homework. He had researched it on the web and befriended other rat owners. We even found a local veterinarian who specialized in Pocket Pets.
Every time someone found out I had let him get a rat, they would turn to me and say, “You must be a good mother. I would never let my child get a rat!”
I wouldn’t exactly use allowing my son a rat as a measure of a good mother. While reluctant, I figured it couldn’t be much different than the rabbits, guinea pigs, gerbils and hamsters I had owned at one time or another.
A friend had called me recently, considering getting some rats. I could hear the tentativeness and disdain in her voice as she told me what her daughter wanted. Oh yeah. I remember that feeling!
But there are a lot of great things about rats and I want to share ten of them with you!
- Rats are highly intelligent and extremely curious. Their intelligence is no surprise. Scientists have studied them for years! And my son’s rats’ curiosity could one day get our cat killed.
- Rats, despite popular belief, are actually very clean animals.
” I believe this stems from the fact that the wild urban rat lives in sewers and junkyards and slums. The reason rats do this is because they are crafty scavengers who’ve learned how to take advantage of human culture. Man-made sewers and trash piles provide shelter, darkness, and often food in the shape of not only discarded human things, but in the bugs too, which rats prey on. Rats themselves are far from filthy. Pet rats do everything they can to keep themselves and their environment clean. (This includes the habit of pushing soiled litter into a corner or through the bars of their cage. Your house may be dirty, but they’re cleaning theirs.) Rats make it a point to wash themselves thoroughly and incessantly, more than a cat. In fact, my rats’ white fur is almost always a shade whiter than my cat’s.” CuriousV
- Rats are extremely affectionate. I have personally witnessed this phenomenon. My son had two rats for awhile named Cyrus and Chester. A little while back, Chester became ill and it was apparent he wouldn’t make it. When he did pass, we put his body where Cyrus would find him. Cyrus immediately knew something was very wrong. He instantly started hanging all over the body and when he started kissing Chester’s mouth, I wanted to cry. He knew! And it was so touching. When we went to remove the body, Cyrus did not want to let us have it. (Cyrus to left and Chester to the right)
Tyler also has a baby right now named Dexter who is a very affectionate little guy who loves to sneak in a kiss whenever he can.
- Rats can have a variety of personalities…. .just like people do! Tyler currently has a female, Andrea, who is extremely adventuresome. He would often allow his rats to romp on his bed, but Andrea was never satisfied with that. She is very good at finding her way off the bed. There were many nights where Tyler would let the rats out after work and then, sleepily, put them away….not realizing he was missing Little Miss Adventure. I would often find her early in the morning curled up in or playing in his dresser. Cyrus is a little sweetheart and Dexter, of course, loves to sneak kisses. Ella, in the photo, has proven to be a very good mother and later, Eddi a good father, although we had to laugh at him. One day after his boys were extremely exhausting to keep up with, we found him hiding from them on top of the cage. I laughed and told him, “Welcome to parenthood!” Tyler also has some that are more shy and introverted. Just like people!
- Rats are low maintenance. They are easy to care for. They can even be trained to a litter box. They don’t need daily grooming. They don’t shed. You don’t have to take them out in cold weather for the bathroom. They don’t need a walk twice a day. They just love spending time with you even if it means just being perched on your shoulder. They do not require vaccinations and you can get two males and they will cohabit quite well. Rats actually need another rat because they enjoy the family unit.
- Rats are easy to train. As I said before, they are highly intelligent. They can be trained to come when called as well as perform tricks upon command.
vii. Rats are less likely to bite. They love people! They love being around people! This is especially true if you handle them when they are quite young. This is one of our babies. The only exception I would give to that is this baby’s momma who decided she doesn’t care for men. There was another instance I will explain below. Out of all the other rodents you can buy, these friendly guys and gals will be the least likely to bite you.
viii. Rats get along with other pets. We never really had to worry much with our cat and the rats. Our cat Tyson was actually great friends with one of our earlier rats, Bentley. They even napped together. Bentley’s cage mate wanted nothing to do with a cat and put Tyson is his place. Our dog, Coby, tried to be friends, but his incessant sniffing got the best of him. After repeated warnings from both the rats and his human family, he was “rewarded” with a bite to the nose. Unfortunately he did not learn his lesson the first time.
ix. Rats make great dorm pets! They’re small and yet big enough to cuddle. However I should warn you that if your college student takes rats to college, to take a completely wire cage and stock up on food and bedding! My oldest daughter, Nicole, sent her sister this photo late one night. Too late to go out and buy a new cage with money a college student just doesn’t have..
x. Rats travel well… they will eat almost anything and will love the new place to explore. Just be careful traveling with them in a hot car and offer them water frequently.
I promise you that the thought of a rat may repulse you at first, but after you are around them for a little while, you will become quite fond of them. I am glad I allowed Tyler to have them. I’m also glad he didn’t want a snake!