For many people the idea of keeping a rat as a pet is a frightening thought. After all aren't rats dirty creatures that carry a whole load of diseases? Well, the answer to that question is NO, rats are not dirty little animals and they do not carry any diseases.
Rats are extremely clean animals, they're intelligent and have very sweet natures which means they make cool pets to keep in the home. Now you would not catch a wild rat and attempt to domesticate it, that would be like capturing a feral cat and then trying to introduce the poor creature into your house, hoping all will go well.
If you want to find out more about these lovely creatures, think Norway rats which are descendants of their street and wild relatives, but which have over the years been bred to be kept as pets. When it comes to colours and coats, there are some very interesting variations, some of which can make buying a Norway rat an expensive business. Below are five fascinating facts about rats which you may not have known about.
If the truth be known, rats probably clean and groom themselves more than a cat does with the added bonus of not suffering from hairballs. Rats do not spread rabies or other diseases either which means domesticate rats make perfectly safe pets to keep in a home environment. Although many people believe it was rats that carried the bubonic plague into London, this is not true because it was the fleas that passed the black death to the residents of the city back in 1665 and not the rats!
Rats have pretty rough tongues, a little like a cat's tongue and because they are like sandpaper, they're extremely effective tools when it comes to scrubbing off any dust or dirt a rat may have picked up on their coats. If you ever watch rats in cages, they will bath each other and share the cleaning duties with their mates.
Because rats keep themselves and each other clean, they are not smelly animals to keep in the home. In fact, a rat can smell quite sweet and definitely as not as strong smelling as say, guinea pigs or mice. Naturally, it is up to you to keep cages as clean as possible and this will have a bearing on any smells a pet rat may give off but in general, they keep themselves in immaculate condition.
When it comes to cleaning out a rat's cage, it really could not be any easier to do. All you have to do is scoop out any old bedding and then add some new. However, you should give the sides of the cage a wipe down with a damp clothe and that's it, the cage is clean again, all thanks to the fact that rats keep themselves so clean and like clean environments to live in.
Rats will use a litter tray if you put one in their cages and again it's extremely easy to keep clean because all you have to do is scoop out the clumps of soiled litter and then fill it up again. Some people don't even keep their pet rats in cages or other secure environments but prefer to let them run freely around their homes. As long as there is a litter tray down and the rat has its own little hideaway, they are very content little animals to have running loose in a home. Obviously, you might not want to let a pet rat run free if you have any cats or terriers and other dogs that might harm them.
Rats are known to be crafty and this is very true – it's because they are intelligent little animals that figure out how to get want they want. Due to their cleverness, it means they are extremely easy to train. If you use the reward method, you can train a pet rat to do a lot of tricks simply because if they know there is a treat in store, they are up for it!
Teaching a pet rat to do all sorts of tricks is great fun and playing with them can be very rewarding because rats love the interaction and will really get into any of the games you play with them, sometimes much more so than cats will ever do.
Some rats are extremely busy little creatures whereas others can be quite laid back and very sweet natured. Then of course, you have the clowns, the ones that are too comical for words. They are also very good athletes being able to jump vast distances and then squeeze through incredibly small gaps – as long as a rat can get their head through a gap, they will contort their body's to follow through.
Rats turn into very affectionate little creatures to have around the home. Once they learn to trust a person, they form a very strong bond with them and will follow their owners to the ends of the earth. However, making friends with a new pet rat that has been living in a crowded pet shop can take a little time, so patience is of the essence. But with this said when the bond is formed, the rewards are brilliant.
If you are considering owning a pet rat, the rewards are great and you will never look back at your choice of pets. However, why not think about adopting one from a rescue centre or even saving a rat from being snake food! Not only would you be introducing an intelligent, clean and affectionate pet into your household, you may be saving their lives and it doesn't get any better than that! Your reward might even be a tickly, sandpaper kiss from a very appreciative little rat. You can view our rat adoption page if you are interetsed in adopting one.