5 Things You Didn't Know About Rats as Pets

Tuesday, October 30, 2018

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5 Things You Didn't Know About Rats as Pets

Let's be honest here and admit that there are plenty of people that feel squirmy when they even think of a rat in their home.  You may be one of them.  I think that people assume that ANY rat is basically the giant, gross, sewer rat you see on TV.  That's not the case.  Domesticated rats are nothing like that and to me they're no different than a gerbil or hamster (except that I like them better!). 

Rats are a great addition to any home.  They are cheap to maintain and the most expensive cost is the initial purchase of their cage.  I have owned rats as pets since I was a teenager and they are by far the best small critter I've ever owned.  But since they are so misunderstood I feel like my job as an owner is to educate others.  After all, there are a few things most people may not know about rats as pets.

pet rats grooming each other on their owner's lap

1. They are extremely clean. 
You probably think that rats are filthy, and like to walk around in sewers and give off a foul odor.  Well, you're wrong.  Rats are actually very clean animals that become almost obsessive about their cleanliness.  They will rearrange their bedding in their cage to keep where they sleep and eat away from where they use the bathroom.   They also clean themselves and each other ALL DAY.  If you don't believe me, pick up someone's pet rat and put it in your lap and watch how it will immediately start licking it's front paws then rubbing all over it's head and body to get your smell off. Rats do not like to be dirty or sticky and grooming is a favorite behavior they do their cage mates which is actually quite endearing to watch.

pet rats cuddling with each other

2. They are very social creatures.
Rats are much happier in pairs.  Rats are like humans in that they thrive off of social interaction.  They are also extremely emotionally intelligent especially when it comes to their friends.  In fact there are very interesting case studies done that show this, like the rat that stopped eating a treat over time because he realized every time he did so, his friend was getting soaked! If you only own one rat that's okay too, but make sure you give it lots of attention.  My rats are content just sitting in my lap while I watch TV.  They enjoy just being around me.  And the crazy thing is that when I take only one out, the other one desperately waits at the cage door for his brother to return.  My boys even interact safely with my pups!
pet rat interacting with chihuahua on owner's lap

3. They get used to your voice.
Rats get to know you by your smell and your voice.  They get excited when you begin talking or if you take a phone call near their cage.  I've even noticed that when I am talking it almost lulls my rats to sleep like when a mom is cradling a baby while she holds a conversation.  My rats are so used to me and my little noises I make for them that they even know what each one means.  People don't understand that rats aren't just a creature to keep locked in a cage.  Rats are creatures that are SMART and get to know their owners.

pet rats admiring a bag of treats

4. They can be trained just like dogs.
Yes, you read that correctly.  Rats can be trained just like dogs.  Rats can even be trained without realizing your training them.  Training a rat involves treats and commands.  I like to use Yogies Cheese Treats from Chewy for mine.  They are tiny little treats so I don't need to worry about interrupting training by waiting for them to finish eating their treat and I also don't need to worry about them getting overweight. 

pet rats admiring a bag of treats
I use little commands or noises that I repeat to my rats and when they do what I wanted them to I reward them with a treat.  Once you do this enough times they associate the command you give or the noise you make with getting a treat after they do a certain action.  My boys crack me up because now they sit on their cage and will actually select a treat from the bag themselves.  Sometimes Meeko tries to be sneaky and shove one so far into his mouth that I can't see it, and he grabs another, making me think he only got one but then I see him dump both into his bedding and secretly eat them. 

pet rats eating food in separate corners of their cage

5. They are very intelligent.
As if the story above doesn't prove that they can be sneaky and smart like humans, the fact that rats share very similar DNA to humans may do it.  Scientists are constantly studying rats in different scenarios and how they figure things out.  They've even done studies to show how empathetic rats are like I mentioned above.  Of course, I don't need to read all that to prove it to myself.  I just sit back and observe my rats and see amazing things.  I watch how they follow the same path and routine like humans do, in order to get to different sections of their cage.  I watch how they react to the things I say or noises I make.  I especially enjoy watching how they react to loud unexpected noises in my neighborhood or on TV and how they soothe each other.

If you're looking to get a new critter in your home or even for your kids, I highly recommend rats as pets.  They enjoy being held and are so smart and fun to interact with!

So did I change your mind about rats as pets?

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1 comment:

  1. Never knew that rats get used to your voice.



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