Top 10 Reasons to Have Rats as a Pet

Updated on July 10, 2014
These two rex coated rats are lounging and basking in one another's company! Rats are friendly creatures, and need ratty friends to avoid loneliness.
These two rex coated rats are lounging and basking in one another's company! Rats are friendly creatures, and need ratty friends to avoid loneliness. | Source

Keeping Rats As a Pet Animal

Pet rats have existed for several hundred years, believe it or not! Having rats as a pet may seem like a strange concept to many different people, but for those who keep rodents, rats tend to be a preferred caged pet. Pet fancy rats are much less likely to display aggression like other rodent pets and caged pets such as gerbils, hamsters, rabbits, and guinea pigs. These are all animals that are commonly kept as pets- and many do not have as docile of a disposition as the domesticated pet rat does. The domesticated pet rat can be one of the most trustworthy pets that you can own, as long as it has a wonderful lineage and was raised properly. They are also incredibly intelligent and quirky- making them very entertaining for adults and children alike. Journeying into the world of rat ownership is very exciting, and it all begins with your very first fancy rat!

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Rats as pets are amazing! Look how calm and content this rat is in its owner's hand.
Rats as pets are amazing! Look how calm and content this rat is in its owner's hand. | Source

#1: With Rats as a Pet, There's No Shortage of Personality!

One of the coolest things about rats as pets is the personalities that they have. Each rat is much different than the next, something you probably would not expect of smaller animals. Some rats are more shy and sweet, while others are more mischievous and outgoing. You have varying levels of intelligence and applied learning (while rats are incredibly smart in any case, their intelligence levels can vary from rat to rat), and this further varies their personalities. As a rat grows up and bonds with its owner the developing personality will forever set the individual apart from the rest of the mischief; Even if the other rats in the mischief are the exact same color and difficult to tell apart through markings!

These 3 siamese rats, the middle being a dumbo eared siamese, are having a great time with their photo shoot and glamour shots.
These 3 siamese rats, the middle being a dumbo eared siamese, are having a great time with their photo shoot and glamour shots. | Source

#2: Rats Are Low Maintenance Pets When Necessary!

If you a current pet owner, you know there are many situations where you may not have much time to spend with your pets. This can have a negative impact on many high maintenance animals. Thankfully, rats are very hardy pets. They may not like that their attention may die off while you pick up a second job over the holiday season, or go away for vacation; however, they will be able to fully entertain themselves with a cagemate and plenty of stimulating toys. With rats as pets, you can take on more responsibilities on occasion without having to worry about the rats feeling neglected. Just do make sure that it is not a long term or ongoing issue; they do need our love just as other family members do!

How cute is this?? Pet rats always love a good cuddle with their best friends!
How cute is this?? Pet rats always love a good cuddle with their best friends! | Source

#3 They Form Loving, Close Bonds with Other Rats and Humans

Rats are very compassionate, family-oriented animals. They live in close knit mischiefs, usually spending the day playing and grooming one another. They form very close bonds with one another and their human family members. They crave attention, which makes it important to have at least one cagemate. While there are space and safety concerns with having too many rats in too small of a cage, rats tend to be happier in larger family groups. I found that many of my rats were happiest in groups of 8- especially the kiddos! There is nothing cuter than watching a play "riot" amongst a group of young kits!

This rat is taking a bath to stay nice and clean.
This rat is taking a bath to stay nice and clean. | Source

#4: Rats Are Very Clean Pets

When you have rats as pets, you will notice that rats tend to be fairly clean animals. Much like other small animals, they like to designate a particular area of their cage as a potty area. Rats do not like to regularly use the potty all over their cage. However, they will leave urine trails across many of their items. This is a territorial instinct, rather than a need to use the bathroom. When they leave these urine trails, it signals to other rats that this is their home; and it can also indicate whether or not it's an "off limits" area, or the home of a potential mate. You can also potty train pet rats to use a litter box!

#5 Costs Associated with Rats Are Generally Low

Rats can be fairly cheap as far as basic needs go. Their food is not very expensive, and you can use all sorts of materials to create their homes, toys, and jungle gyms yourself. They are also able to eat many of the foods we eat, such as meats, vegetables, grains, and fruits. Therefore, you can feed them a little bit of your own cooking when you have extra available; and you can create a temporary hide out from last night's dinner box!

Curiosity is perhaps one of the best reasons that rats have such extensive intelligence.
Curiosity is perhaps one of the best reasons that rats have such extensive intelligence. | Source

#6: Rats Can Be Trained

Since rats are so incredibly smart, you are able to trqain them to do many different things. Rats are able to understand behaviors and reward systems, as well as parts of the human language. They learn their names and can easily learn about what is going on around them and what to expect. They are even capable of learning advanced tricks. In some countries, rats are used to detect land mines, rewire buildings when humans cannot get into tight spaces, and can even act as messengers or transporters.

#7: Friendly As Can Be

Rats tend to have a much lower risk of becoming aggressive versus other small pets. This is one of the biggest reasons that they are recommended for younger children. They are very unlikely to bite as long as they come from reputable breeders. The temperament of a well bred rat usually means you are nearly 100% safe from ever being bitten out of aggression. Even if the rat comes from an inexperienced breeder or pet shop, rats are still excessively docile creatures; they never mean harm, they just want to explore and make friends along the way!

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#8: Healthy As A Horse

If a rat is cared for properly from birth, it tends to stay very healthy. Rats seem to almost never get sick, and have an immunity to many illnesses. The only issue is that females tend to be susceptible to mammary cancer. The chances of this are drastically reduced under these conditions: the female rat has raised at least one litter to maturity, and she has been spayed. If both conditions are met, cancer can be almost avoided. Other than this, a balanced diet, clean cage, and plenty of exercise make for a long lived, healthy pet.

#9: Pet Rats are Easy to Find

If you are considering rats as pets, you will notice that they are relatively easy to find. You can find professional breeders and ratteries, experienced hobby breeders, and pet shops that usually have rats available for adoption.

Check out this husky roan rat! Absolutely beautiful markings!
Check out this husky roan rat! Absolutely beautiful markings! | Source

#10 There Is So Much Variety!

Pets rats come in all colors, varieties, coat types, and sizes! There's a type of rat to fit nearly anyone's tastes; and they are all most definitely cute! There are hairless rats, dumbo eared rats, rex coated rats, tailless rats, and more. Some are more rare than others; with one example being tailless rats. As rats are bred, there are more types and color variations than before. This one to the left is rather stunning!

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Questions & Answers

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      • profile image

        Lilly 

        2 weeks ago

        I had many pet rats 2 or so years ago. All hooded/ fancy rats. They were gorgeous and sweet. I miss them all to this day.

      • profile image

        SammieHolloway 

        3 weeks ago

        Can someone help me out? I’ve researched about rats since late last year because they seem like a great pet for me. I’ve checked shelters and things because I really didn’t wanna get a rat from petsmart / Petco but they didn’t have em. I couldn’t find any breeders near by. I did happen to go to petsmart and fell in love with (hated so much but I couldn’t help myself ) this one rat. But here’s my problem..There was only ONE rat and I didn’t wanna take it and make it live a lonely life. And I’m nervous to go out and buy another one from somewhere else and it possibly attacking or maybe hurting itself or the other rat. What should I do?

      • profile image

        DANIEL 

        6 weeks ago

        Only thing I disagree with is #8. All -that means every single one - pet rats are infected with mycoplasmosis respiratory disease, usually transmitted at birth. It's chronic and progressive. Some rats fare better than others but alnost all will suffer flare ups which are treated with antibiotics and as they get old the condition becomes more serious with respiratory distress common. 90% of the time your rats will be okay but be prepared to see the vet at short notice. Bills can and do add up.

      • profile image

        mango cube 

        9 months ago

        Easy to find?Not in Turkey.You'll need to search for years for inbred and sick ones.

      • profile image

        angelrat 

        10 months ago

        soo cute pics i love rats soo much i have three cute rats

      • profile image

        Unicorn lover 

        11 months ago

        Screw you Kevin the rat deserved to live luckily for the rat the snake did not eat it but he poor rat must have been terrified .

      • profile image

        littlerattiesauntie 

        12 months ago

        The people who can't stand, or understand, having rats as pets have obviously never met one! You have no idea what you're missing!

      • profile image

        GalaxyRat 

        17 months ago

        Excellent! Rats are great as pets. ;)

      • profile image

        school 

        21 months ago

        rats are good

      • profile image

        Linda 

        2 years ago

        Definitely not easy to find in my area the closest breeder is a 6hr drive

      • profile image

        Kevin 

        2 years ago

        About two years ago, we bought a white rat from the pet store to feed to our California King Snake. He didn't eat it, so as with the (3) mice, we've had a pet rat. I will be buying a multi-level cage for him tomorrow. As well as proper bedding. Great site, Great tips.

      • Chriswillman90 profile image

        Krzysztof Willman 

        3 years ago from Parlin, New Jersey

        I don't know why some people are so against rats considering domesticated rats are not like New York City sewer rats. They are hardy little rodents and probably make great pets. I wouldn't know first hand though since I've only had hamsters as pets. Interesting Hub.

      • profile image

        Tricia 

        3 years ago

        Number #8 is completely wrong. There are other things that can go wrong in the health of a pet rat. Yes,females get mammory tumors,but they can also get upper respiratory infection. All rats are born with mycoplamsa when they come through the mother's birth canal. When the rat is stressed,the cage is not cleaned properly or they are extremely prone to them it will cause a flare and thus creating a respiratory infection which will require two antibotics baytril and doxycycline. If they do not get these antibotics it can create Pneumonia which in case they eventually pass away. Besides that they can also develop PTs,megacolon,eye infections,collapsed uterus,penis plugs (if male) and many more. These all require vet care which can run a lot of money. I am an owner of 2 female rats. Have been an owner for 4 years.

      • LauraVerderber profile image

        Power Ball Pythons 

        4 years ago from Mobile, AL

        Rats are really awesome. I raise them as feeders for my snakes but there were some that really stood out and got names, thus becoming our pets. The rats get along with our dog although we have to have the cat separated. My favorite rat is the one my husband named "Batman." She is a white rat with a black 'cowl' on her face. She's very acrobatic and I let her go exploring while cleaning her cage. She knows her name and the command "Go home." She will eat raisins out of my hand and is a really great mom too.

      • jhendor profile image

        jhendor 

        5 years ago

        Rats as pets? You must kidding me?

      • Dreamhowl profile image

        Jessica Marello 

        5 years ago from United States

        I have two rats and they have very distinct personalities; my older girl loves to love us and lounge about, while my younger girl is hyperactive and amusing. A few years ago I would have never thought of owning rats and here I am now. Nice hub!

      • angryelf profile imageAUTHOR

        angryelf 

        5 years ago from Tennessee

        Hahaha I'm sorry!!! I've never gotten to see a groundhog before, but I don't live in the city; I live in the boondocks ;) Rats are so awesome, they really are. Oh, and in all actuality (if you train the kitties well) rats and cats make THE BEST of friends. I used to let my cats crawl into the cage to hang out with them. Even the little bitty 3 week old hoppers. When I raised the hoppers with the cats, they grew up to think of them as massive rats; the bigger rats take quite a bit longer to come around to the idea. They'll show a bit of terror and aggression, but the aggression dies fast (when they realize the cats aren't trying to hurt them haha). My younger cat would CONSTANTLY wrestle with the rats. The cutest thing in the world is watching them playfight hahaha.

      • kidscrafts profile image

        kidscrafts 

        5 years ago from Ottawa, Canada

        I can respect animals but a rat or a snake is way to much for me to have inside my home. On top of it, I have cats..... can you imagine the nightmares that the poor rat would have to have two cats looking at him all day trying to get him out of the cage... or the poor cats having nightmares because they can't eat the rat?

        I definitely think rats are not for me!

        At the moment, I am trying to get rid humanly of a groundhog that stays under the extension of my house. A groundhog is like a giant rat! The specialist installed a special cage so the groundhog can get out from under the extension but not get in anymore. I must say that I saw the groundhog several times.... it's very cute....but not there! On top of it, it's eating my lettuce, breaking my echinacea and cutting my tomatoes who are still green from the plant! And believe it or not.... I live in the city!

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