Back in the day, the rat was a symbol of disease and uncleanliness. They were vermin and many people were appalled by them. Fast forward to today, rats are now a popular pet and, unlike their wild relatives, are very clean and friendly. Rats make fantastic pets, in that they are generally easy to care for, affectionate, and intelligent. In fact, they are smarter than people usually give them credit for and can be taught tricks.
Although they are kept in cages, rats need time outside of the cage, to explore and play. It is suggested to let them out at least an hour a day. Rats are nocturnal animals, so they will usually be more active at night. Since they are very social animals, it is suggested to own more than one, preferably same sex pairs or a group. Males can get along with other males if they are litter mates or are introduced at a young age. Don’t worry though, having a group will not make it more difficult to tame them!
Rats will reach puberty at a very young age (6-8 weeks old) and females will go into heat every 4-5 days, so unless you you intend to care for babies, make sure to keep males and females separated and keep a close eye on them when they’re out playing. You can also get one or both of them fixed. It is usually suggested to get a male neutered, if you are only fixing one, as it is an easier procedure. The average lifespan for a rat is 2-4 years, which is much shorter than a rat-lover would like. However, they make a good first time pet for children, but be sure you teach your children how to properly handle them. They are bigger than hamsters and gerbils, but still smaller than your child, so mishandling can still injure your rat.
So if you think that a rat might be a good pet for you, where do you go about getting one? Many people buy them from pet stores, but it can be a little tricky, as many of those rats are sold to stores to be either pets OR feeders, so there’s a good chance they might not be the healthiest. It is more advisable to get a rat from a rescue, than from a store, as there are many rats that are in need of new homes. If you prefer to own one from a young age, research a rattery in your area. Many ratteries are committed to breeding only their best lines, ruling out genetic issues and generally having a healthier rat.
If you need someone to look after your pet rat while you’re out, contact sit-stay-play In-home pet sitting & more.LLC. Our CEO, Kelley, is a mom to two rattie girls herself!