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Are rats the right pet for you?

Rats can make one of the most perfect pets. They are social, affectionate, interactive, intelligent, curious, and full of personality. They develop strong bonds with their owners. While being a small caged pet, they are more similar to that of a dog or a cat instead of hamsters and such.. They really make a fun wonderful pet.

 

All our pet rats are a single species the domesticated Brown rat (Rattus norvegicus).  We call them affectionately Fancy Rats. All of our pet rats are called Fancy Rats (yes even dumbo!), We use the term fancy to differentiate our domestic pets from the wild rats. You can read about rat varieties HERE.

 

“The name fancy rat derives from the idea of animal fancy (promotion of domesticated animals) or the phrase "to fancy" (to like, or appreciate)”-wikipedia

 

In the 18th & 19th century the rat fancy began and soon after clubs started up as people began to breed them and develop standards. The domestic rat has been bred for many generations to make them a great loving pet. They are far different from their wild cousins.

 

 

Unlike many small animals, rats are a very hands on pet. They want their owners to interact with them, play with them and love them. They are much more like a cat or dog than a hamster. 

 

Rats are very intelligent as much if not more so then cats and dogs. They can be taught tricks and to come when called. This also makes them very good escape artists and requires you to be vigilant in supervising when they are out of their cage.

Being so intelligent also means they require a lot of mental stimulation for their wellbeing. They need an enriching fun cage and/or lots of time outside of their cage. Bored rats can become destructive, depressed or even ill.



All rats have their own personalities but most are quite intelligent, docile, sweet and playful. A rat bred for temperament properly would never think about biting. Rats are far less likely to bite than other small animals. This makes them ideal pets for families, but care and supervision should always be given when children are handling rats as they are small,



Rats are VERY social animals and can get depressed very easily if left alone. That is why you must always have 2 or more rats at a time. Either male or female they must be kept in groups. YES, even males must be kept in groups!

 

Three is the ideal number so you always have a pair if one passes away and so they have a great social dynamic. Rats will still bond very easily and deeply with you even while being in groups. I definitely feel it is easier to bond a pair to you then it is a single rat. They watch one another and one rat is more apt to see their friend go to you & copy them.

Rats will not form a super BFF friend club with other rats and not let you join, I promise! Rats are truly so social/group focused that they have room for you in their circle too!

People think they can spend enough time with a single rat but that is just not possible. Rats tend to be like cats and have bursts of energy with a lot of napping in between. Are you going to be awake all night to play and cuddle them? What about when you are at work? Unless you can spend 24 hours with a rat then they need a friend! There is also the fact that you just do not speak rat.

 

 

Facts:

 

 

  • They bathe themselves like cats.

  • Unlikely to bite

  • Interactive/fun to watch and play with/cuddle

  • Bond quickly & deeply with their owners

  • As all pets they require care & cage cleaning,

  • Are very intelligent and need a rat proofing done on their play area + mental stimulation

  • Can be bad chewers and destroy things if not properly watched (including plastic cages or toys)

  • Smell...all animals have some smell to them. Rats themselves do not have an odor. But urine & feces do not smell good. I would not say they smell any worse than my cats or dog. If you keep the cage properly cleaned and maintained you should not have any issues with smell.

  • Getting them a proper diet can take effort. Most good/recommend food needs to be bought online and shipped.

  • Vets are harder to find and expensive. They are considered exotic pets and so most vets charge far more for rats than for cats or dogs

  • They can be prone to some health issues, though proper care lowers the risks by far

  • Short live span. Rats typically only live 2-3 years. Some people are not able to handle such short lifespans.

Should I get a male or female?

There are a few differences between male & female rats. Remember all rats have their own unique personality and this is a generalization, so it is possible to get rats that do not fit into these boxes. It is important when getting a new pet to never go in with perceived notions of exactly the personality you want. All pets are unique!

Males:

  • Larger than females

  • You can definitely notice their boy parts (testicles), they are rather large & can be off-putting to some.

  • Are more likely to mark (pee) on you and everything else.

  • Are often more lazy and relaxed/chill than females. Males do tend to slow down quicker than females.

  • Still, have to be kept in pairs or larger groups

  • Have an orange secretion on their behinds called buck grease. Not all males have this, diet & hormones plays a large role.

  • Some males once they reach maturity may end up with hormonal aggression. This usually happens around 6-8 months. It is caused by a shift in hormones. They will likely not outgrow it and it may even get worse over time. Many males will not have any change at all, but some will have a definite shift in personality. Your once sweet friendly boy may begin to bully or worse attack his cage mates, sometimes escalating to serious fights. In severe cases, he may even be aggressive towards you. Getting your male from a breeder who breeds for temperament significantly lowers the chance of hormonal aggression, as breeders make sure to breed away from it and monitor it in their lines. Neutering is also an option to prevent or end the issue (though comes with risk as well). Mating him will NOT help and may actually make it worse (as well as pass on his aggression to the babies)

     

Females:

  • Slightly smaller, you will need to be more careful of bar spacing to prevent escapes

  • Tend to be more active, energetic & playful. In my experience, they tend to be more exploitative, more likely to test boundaries & rat proofing and need far more mental stimulation. They do not always sit still & like to be on the move so may not be the sit & cuddle with you type, Though many females slow down with age. Females are still affectionate & loving and often enjoy sitting on your shoulders. They may be more prone to visit you for a moment, run off to do something else then come back to say hi. Many girls are still sweet & cuddly.

  • Females do mark but in my experience, it is not as common and way less than the boys.

  • Tend to be worse chewers (I believe it is because the ladies tend to require more mental stimulation & activity which they may not be getting)

  • Females can be prone to mammary tumors. A healthy environment and diet play a major role in the prevention of tumors.

     

I enjoy both sexes quite a lot. My boys are so chill and I just can just pick them and snuggle them. Most are quite lazy, it will be free range/play time and I will find them all sleeping on top of their cage. They really make the most of it! ..
I do tend to really love the girls though. The petite graceful beauty. They are so smart and fun to interact with. They are always keeping me on my toes. They have so much life & energy. My girls are still super sweet and cuddly and yet are more full of life and energy. 

But I have had super hyper males and super lazy girls too. 

Is a rat the right pet for me?

  • Can you afford and have space for a cage?
     

  • Do you want an active/hands-on pet?
     

  • Can you spend time with them daily?
     

  • Do you have the time/energy to clean a cage weekly, feed and care for the rats daily?
     

  • Can your heart handle the short lifespan and the potential for tumors and other illnesses?
     

  • Can you afford often expensive vet visits for such health issues?
     

  • Do you have other pets/children that will be fine around small animals & not be able to harm them? Will you be able to keep them out of reach without supervision?
     

  • Are you going to still want them in 2-5 years, even if life throws chaos at you: you have to move, you have a baby, you get a new job, a new pet?