Have you ever thought of getting a small pet such as a rat? They are intelligent and make great companions.
Jordan Walker is guilty of spoiling his pets and buys them some expensive toys whenever he can. He shares his love for animals at Coops And Cages and in blogs like this one. In here, he shares comprehensive information about pet rats to help you become a better pet owner or simply to gauge if this is the right animal companion for you.
Rats are yucky! They create holes in cabinets in the kitchen, eat your leftover food in the garbage and even manage to bite some of the delicious dessert you left at the table that you particularly set aside just in case you get some sweet cravings during the day. Well, at least that is the common story you will often hear from those who see rats as common pests. Rats as pets? Now, this may sound like a crazy idea especially for animals that are often the target of pest terminators. But rats are very intelligent and actually make great pets when given the chance. Not a cat or a dog person? Why not consider getting a pet rat instead? The information below will help you know if the two of you are a perfect match.
8 Fun Facts About Rats
Before you decide that rats are not so noble, get to know them first before jumping into a conclusion. Here are some fun facts about rats to help you get started:
- Intelligence is one of their greatest assets. Now, this may explain why rats can figure out how to get into your food’s hiding place. They are like geniuses who perceive their surroundings as a puzzle and are more than capable of cracking it too!
- They are better than acrobats. Rats have a great sense of balance. Could it be that their long tails are helping them with their equilibrium? Climbing on tables, headboards and high furniture pose no problem at all for a rat.
- Socialization is important. Rats are social animals and require consistent daily interaction. Are you prepared to spend time playing with your rat each day? If you don’t, they will not like to be held and may be afraid of you.
- They have emotions radar. When you are feeling angry, fearful, or anxious, trust your pet rat will be able to sniff this out. The bad thing about having these negative emotions when handling a rat? It may respond with the same emotion, which is why it’s not recommended to hold them while feeling such.
- Anti-social is not in their language. Rats are meant to be with other rats. If you get a pet rat, you need to get another one to keep them happy.
- They could make a great swimming buddy. If you have a pool and like to swim, you may be better off with a pet rat. They can be great swimmers and some actually genuinely like to spend some time doing it too. Be sure to closely monitor them and provide plenty of dry safe places for them to rest on. Shallow water is recommended.
- They love being squeaky clean. Wild rats may have gained a reputation for being dirty, given the fact that in the wild, they will pass through very dirty places. But did you know that they love to clean themselves afterwards and even give other rats a hand in doing so?
- It will be a short-lived relationship. You see, rats will only be able to stay with you on the average of two to three years. If you are the type to get attached to his or her pet, this may not be the best animal companion for you.
What Pet Rats Need
Now that you know a few facts about pet rats, do you think this is the best animal buddy for you? If you answered yes, then here are some things needed that will enable you to give your rats the best care.
- Housing essentials and sleeping arrangements. Keep at least two pet rats in the same cage, ideally of the same gender to prevent breeding, unless they have already been neutered or spayed. Take note that with each pregnancy, a female rat will have 12 to 20 babies. The minimum cage size requirement for two pet rats is 2’ x 2’ x 2’. If you plan to keep more than that, then get a much larger rat cage. When choosing one for your pet, see to it that the floor is solid and not easily chewed through. Furthermore, the cage should be made more comfortable by providing your pet rat with some sort of bedding such as fleece, pellet bedding or aspen. For entertainment and shelter, provide some PVC tubes for them to play hide-and-seek in and an igloo to rest in. A hamster wheel could also help keep them entertained and will allow them to get their daily dose of exercise. A small toy here and there will keep them from being unhappy or bored.
- Healthcare needs. Now, a pet rat may not have any qualms eating rhubarb, blue cheese, raw red cabbage and apple seeds; however, these are considered toxic for them. Experts recommend that you feed your rodent pet with rat blocks to better address their nutritional needs. To prevent them from being bored with these though, there are human foods that they can safely eat. Examples of these include blueberries, papaya, pears, broccoli, cucumbers, hard-boiled eggs, and yogurt. To keep them from eating spoiled food, clean their cages on a daily basis. Doing this will also keep them from making themselves and the house smell really bad. Annual veterinary check-ups should be observed to prevent future health problems. But if your pet rat shows any symptoms of sickness such as diarrhea, frequent sneezing, or excessive porphyrin discharge, visit your vet as soon as possible.
- Socialization and training. You heard that right. Rats are very trainable. Unlike the saying about old dogs not being able to learn new tricks, even old rats can be taught a simple one. The first thing that you should do is make sure your rat is comfortable with you. You can do this by offering small treats until it is able to trust you enough to hold it in your hands. Training a rat is similar to training a dog. You will need to use the food reward system. Timing is also crucial. If the pet rat is too tired or finds the tricks boring due to excessive repetition, the training could fail.
As pets, rats are anything but yucky. They are very intelligent loving animals, similar to pet dogs that could entertain you with a trick or two. Before you get one though, consider the needs mentioned above. If you are willing to provide all of these things, then you may do just well as a pet rat parent.
Jordan is the lead content curator for Coops And Cages as well as a couple of other pet related blogs. His passion for animals is only matched by his love for ‘attempting’ to play the guitar. If you would like to catch him, you can via Google+ or Twitter: @CoopsAndCages