Since I’ve spoken with a lot of people over the years about pet rats, I’ve come to learn that almost everybody has no clue about much of anything, so I’ll start this piece off by saying rats are probably the coolest pet you could have. Yes, really. I say that because I know most, if not all of you read that and said to yourselves, “What?!” or “Really?!”
I’m not sure why it’s so hard to believe, although I understand it. Rats have gotten a bad wrap from their hick cousins the sewer rats. Sewer rats are disgusting, foul creatures who most definitely do not belong in your house. But the domesticated rat is, as I said, one of the coolest animals you could introduce not only to your house, but to your family as well.
I had my first rats several years ago and loved them dearly. Watching them play was well worth the purchase price. Sticking my hand in their cage and having them lick my hand to death was just icing on the cake. Having one sit on your shoulder and sniff your ear is classic.
They’re lovable to a fault, fun to watch, fun to play with (they will play with you) and they can be trained. While I’ve never trained my rats (we currently have three), it is possible. And if they get big enough you can walk them down the street with a leash.
Basically, a pet rat is like having a pet dog only they don’t bark. What’s not to love about that? All the benefits of a dog without the annoying barking.
I could go on and on about how awesome they are, but I won’t. I will tell you though that owning a pet rat is a commitment. They have to have clean living quarters. Yes, the biggest difference between sewer or wild rats and domesticated rats is hygiene. Domesticated rats are always cleaning themselves. They don’t like being dirty. So, for all of you naysayers, there’s another myth busted.
So you have to clean their cage all the time. Also, they need attention, and lots of it. My wife plays with our rats well over an hour a day, but it’s probably more like well over 2 hours a day. She’s always got them out on her desk, letting them run around and climb on her. I myself play with them occasionally, but not as often as she does. It doesn’t matter, they love me just the same. These rats are worse at licking hands than my first two were. They’ll soak your hand with love spit.
There are even rat competitions. Believe it or not, just like dog shows, rats are displayed, paraded, checked from head to toe and voted on to see which is the best of the best. Rats are even bred for this purpose, to be champions.
Now if you can handle having a rat in your house, and you want to get one, there’s one thing you should know. Never purchase your pet rats from a chain pet store. They don’t handle the rats like rats are supposed to be handled, in other words, for several hours a day. Plus, chances are very good, their “pet” rats were rats bred to be feeder rats for snakes. If you purchase a rat from one of these places, you’ll probably find they won’t live too long and in a lot of cases, they’ll be very lethargic. Lethargic rats do not make for good pets.
Instead, go online and find all of the other pet stores in your area, you know, the mom and pop type places. Call them and ask them if 1) they sell rats and 2) they handle them multiple times or for extended times every day. Or you can just ask them if they breed them to be pets or feeders. I’ve owned some from both mom and pop places who breed rats for pets and from chain locations who didn’t care what they were selling. There’s a huge difference.
And every time I tell them I want a rat as a pet, they thank me, because even those who raise rats to sell for pets know how special pet rats can be. Ask them, they probably own them too.
So, they can be trained, walked down the street, played with, loved on, and they don’t bark? Is there anything they can’t do?
Amazing. If you’re looking for an awesome pet, you can’t go wrong with a rat. If you have the time for them, they’ll always have the time for you.