If you are considering owning some pet rats then read on, you will discover some of the reasons why they are popular pets and have such a large, enthusiastic fan base. There are a lot of misconceptions from people who have never owned rats, and some of the following points may come as a pleasant surprise. So, here are 10 reasons why you should own a pet rat:
Unless you have owned rats you may not know this, but each rat has its own personality and they can be very different. Some rats are shy and quiet, while others can be very outgoing and demanding. You can experience very different levels of intelligence and abilities between different rats, and will notice they socialise differently with each other.
It can be fascinating to watch how they grow up and change, developing bonds with other rats and yourself that show personality traits. As you form bonds and get to know individual rats you will understand them a lot better, helping you provide a happier life for them.
It is well known that rats love social interaction on a daily basis. But if you are having a very busy day, or you have left a friend to care of them while you are on holiday, rats will keep themselves amused for days on end. As long as rats have a steady supply of fresh food and water you do not need to dote on them daily, and they will not hold it against you.
It’s hard for people who have not owned rats to understand this, but rats are incredibly compassionate animals. They love socialising with people or other rats, often spending their days grooming or playing with each other in their cages.
This is the reason why it is recommended that you always have more than one rat. They are much happier in larger groups, being able to form bonds and socialise makes rats a lot happier. The longer you have you rats and the more time you spend with them, the more you will come to realise they look forward to seeing and handing out with you.
Rats do mark their territory, especially males. This will become less frequent over time as rats establish the boundaries with each other. However, if you keep the cage cleaned out weekly it is unlikely you will notice any odours. They also like to choose an area to use as a toilet, you can buy a small litter box for rodents or allow them to decide the area they will use for themselves.
Compared to other household pets rats are very inexpensive. Once you have a cage and some accessories set up, food and bedding materials are the only real expected costs. Rodent food mixes are fairly inexpensive, plus you can feed you rats a lot of different food scraps from what you eat. Also, you can make extra bedding and houses inside their cage from cardboard boxes and paper shredding.
Rats are regarded as smart animals, and as such you can train them to do some basic tricks. If you reward them with treats and spend the time to train them, over the course of weeks you can train them to perform certain tricks like; coming over to you when called, standing up on two legs, and lying down.
This does require some patience, but it can be a rewarding experience and help you form a much closer bond to your rat. Do remember that every rat is different, don’t be too disappointed if your rat doesn’t seem interesting in learning a trick.
Rats usually only scratch or bite if they feel threatened, or are in pain for some reason. They will rarely randomly bite or scratch someone, at least not without a warning of some kind. They like being handled, are always happy to interact with people, and make ideal first pets for children for these reasons.
No one wants a sick pet to look after. Rats are immune to many illnesses and compared to some other rodent breeds they do not get sick very often. It has been well documented that females are prone to mammary tumours, this is the main illness you need to be aware of. Apart from mammary tumours, if you keep your rats living conditions good, feed them a well rounded, balanced diet, and make sure you give them plenty of attention, you should rarely experience any illness.
Fancy rats come in a range of different colours, coat types, varieties and sizes. You should do some research before deciding to buy a pet rat, if you decide that you want a specific colour or fur type, you will be able to find breeders specialising or breeding almost every type and breed. Breeders should always be able to give you some family history, advise you on what the rat will look like as it grows up, and be aware of any potential problems. There is even a hairless breed of rat for people with allergies!
Almost all pet stores stock or can bring rats in if you ask. There are always ads offering rats for sale, sometimes for free, and even with the cage and accessories if the owners are no longer going to keep rats. As mentioned earlier, there are a lot of rat breeders around the country too, so there is no shortage of options when it comes to finding rats. This means you have plenty to choose from, and the prices are kept low.