Are Rats Good Pets?
Are Rats Good Pets? Yes, rats are great pets. They’re affectionate, social creatures. Contrary to common misconceptions, they are very clean animals. You can bet they will be a great addition to your home and our family. If you’re here, then it looks like you’re ready to enjoy all the love and enjoy a fancy rat can bring you. Don’t worry, if you’re full of questions. I made this website specifically to help answer some of the questions you might have about keeping a rat as a pet. I, too, once had plenty of questions many years ago. I’m here to share my experience and the knowledge I have learned about these furry friends over the years.
Are They Safe to Keep as Pets?
I think this is a question many rat keepers have at first and it’s very understandable. For anyone who has not learned the joy that fancy rats can bring, the only thing that comes to mind when they think about rats are the ones known to crawl through the sewers (in other words, the wild rats, the pests).
For as long as we can remember, rats have always been associated with spreading diseases and plaguing mankind. With that in mind, anyone who’s never owned a rat before will be concerned about the potential diseases that might come along with a pet rat.
I want to clarify that pet rats (fancy rats) do not spread diseases like the wild rat. At the end of a day, a rat is a rat; and all rats are capable of spreading zoonotic diseases. However, it is extremely rare for fancy rats to spread these diseases. In most cases, it does not happen because they are not exposed to the same environment as wild rats. They do not come from such environments as well. The only time they can become a disease risk like the wild rat is if they are frequently exposed to wild rats and are not properly cared for.
So, bottom line, rats are safe pets. If you still have more questions about what the differences are between wild rats and pet rats, you can read more about it here.
Are Rats Good Pet for Children?
Rats, despite their small size, can be good pets for children. That’s assuming that you take care of the harder stuff (like cleaning, supervised feeding, etc.). Your kids can and should be encouraged to help with feeding. Make sure kids are supervised by your or a knowledgeable adult if they are allowed to feed the rat(s).
Rats are actually better pets for children compared to hamsters and gerbils. For its small size, the rat is exceptionally tough; tough enough to handle kids. They aren’t so fragile like hamsters, so they are less likely to get hurt from the rough handling that kids are known for. If a child accidentally drops a rat while holding it, it’s got a good chance of being ok. A hamster or gerbil wouldn’t be so lucky if they were accidentally dropped.
Caution should still be taken, and you need to show the kids how to handle a rat properly. Just because they are a little tougher doesn’t mean you don’t need to show the kids how to handle a rat, so they don’t get hurt.
If rats make such good pets, why are they so frowned upon? You can thank the many years of the common grey rat and the pest control industry. It is true that the wild gray rats have unintentionally spread diseases in the past and due to the nature of them being rats, they get exposed to certain risks, the unknowingly expose them to humans when they come around. A human home is a warm a safe place for a rat after all. The pest control industry also lives off the fear and misconception that all rats are bad. It keeps their wallets full and they have no intention of changing the image that rats portray as a whole. Take the guys at pestend.org, for example. They only portray rodents as pests and nothing more. There is no mention of “hey, not all rodents are bad.”
Why Choose A Rat Over A Hamster
Aside from being a little sturdier for children that can be a little rough at times, why else should you choose a rat instead? One of the best reasons they are better than hamsters is because they are very intelligent; much more than a hamster or a gerbil. You can actually train a rat.
Rats are social creatures, and they will love the attention you give them. Spend time with them, and they will in return the affection. Because rats are social creatures, I highly recommend buying them in pairs at minimum.
Choosing a Pet Rat for Kids
Parents considering getting their child/children pet rats should only do so if the kids are age 8 and up. Any younger, and they don’t understand fully they tend to be a little too rough. Younger children will also be less likely to help the adult take care of the rat.
When selecting a fancy rat for children, care needs to be taken. Rats come in all sorts, and some are more active, while others are shy. Shy and nervous rats do not do well with kids. When selecting a rat at the pet shop or from a breeder, choose one that is active. Choose one that is willing to come to the kids. Avoid the one that runs away or goes and hide.
Providing for a Pet Rat
It’s not difficult to keep rats, but they do have a few requirements. That goes beyond the scope of this introductory page. Instead, they are covered on their own pages (with more details).
One item you’ll need is a cage for your pet. Read all about selecting the right cage on this page.
A bare cage just isn’t a very comfortable home for your friend. Add bedding material to help make it nice and comfy. These are good and bad choices.
Hopefully, I was able to answer the question, “are rats good pets?” If you’re still unsure of whether they will be a welcomed addition to y our family, the simple answer is yes; rats make good pets. You’ll love them, and they will love you in return. They’re great fun with the kids as well.