If your looking for an easy to maintain pet that can be played with, yet requires little space and money, then a rat might be for you. Rats are more commonly known as vermin or pests rather than a pet, and some people are still appalled by the idea. The truth is, rats are clean, intelligent, affectionate animals which bond to their human companions in much the same way that dogs do. With the right care they should also provide a comparable level of companionship.
Rats are the same species as the wild brown rat that most people know about (rattus norvegicus), but they have been selectively bred for looks and temperament for at least the last century and are now quite different in temperament from their ancestors. They are far less aggressive towards humans and rival rats, and display a number of behavioural differences from wild rats.
Rats can become very attached to their owners. They make playful, sensitive pets, and can be taught to come by name and learn a variety of tricks. They need at least an hour's playtime outside their cage every day, and because they are much more intelligent than many other small animals, rats can suffer if not given enough attention, free-range time, and environmental stimulation.
While rats are extremely rewarding pets and will repay any attention and affection you give them a thousand fold, they may not be suitable for everyone. Before getting a rat you should check that other family members are OK and don't have a problem or fear associated with them.
The more attention you give your new rats when you first get them home, the sooner they will get used to your voice and your smell and begin to make friends with you. Handle your rats as much as possible, whether they seem to like it or not at first, they will soon learn to enjoy your company. Unless a rat is very nervous or unwell, you cannot give it too much attention or handling. One good way of getting your rats used to you is to let them ride around the house on your shoulder or inside your sweater.
Rats should not be picked up by the tail, they do not like it, and it can cause injury. It is best to lift your rats by placing one or both hands under the chest, behind the front legs, but be careful not to squeeze.
Rats can also get along with other family pets, especially if introduced at a very young age. Can you imagine your cat happily sleeping while a rat is snuggling into it? It does happen, however, it will depend on the personality of your pets.
Rats are fantastic pets to have and provide excellent companionship. Why not try one for your next pet?
If you are about to get a rat, you need to make sure you have the basic requirements, before you even bring them home! Here is a list of the basic requirements for any rats.
- Small Animal Cage or Enclosure
- Straw Bedding
- Ceramic Food Dish
- Dip/Sip Water Bottle
- Rat Wheel
- Wood Chew
- Salt & Mineral Lick Stone
- Tick mite & lice prevention
Suitable For People Aged: 10 & over
Experience Required: None. Care sheet & info
Feeding Care Time Required: 10 minutes a day
Maintenance Time Required: 1/2 Hours twice a Week
Minimum Space Required: Small animal cage
Cost of Upkeep: (approx) $4 Per Week
Life Span: (approx) 3 to 4 years
Availability: All Year
To read our care sheet, simply click the link above to open it in your browser. However, if you want to download it to your computer for future reference, simply 'right click' on the document and select "Save Target As...". Then simply choose a location (like your desktop) to save. You will need Acrobat to read and print these documents.