Are Pet Rats Affectionate?

By Nadine Oraby | 2020 Update

I remember being fascinated with the idea of keeping a rat as a pet after watching “Stuart Little.” (Yeah, I know he was a mouse!)

The idea, of course, made me the subject of everyone’s ridicule.

But it persisted in the back of my mind, and thus I decided to find out more about the kind of pets rats made.

Let me share with you what I learned.

So are pet rats affectionate? Yes. Although these creatures have quite a tainted reputation, in reality, they are quite loving and friendly companions that prove to be excellent pets. Most people tend to associate rats with diseases, but what many do not realize is that they are healthy, intelligent, and playful animals.

There’s more to rats than what is popular.

Try to find out as much about rats as possible.

The thing is, you are unlikely to find much help among your friends and family.

But don’t worry, I’m here to help you.

The behavior and temperament of rats

What do you think would happen if you announce that you intend to keep a rat as a pet among your friends and family?

All hell would break loose.

You would be ridiculed and mocked.

This is not all; you would be flooded with advice as people try to knock some sense into you. They’ll probably give you a hundred reasons why rats are bad pets.

If you are serious about buying, you need to have some ammunition of your own.

Thus, it would be a good idea to know everything there is to find out about rats so that you can put up a strong case.

The domestic side of rats

First of all:

The most significant point to remember is that domesticated rats are drastically different from the wild ones.

Rats have been bred in captivity for a long time.

Thus, they have been equipped with a gentle and affectionate temperament.

Another common misconception about rats is that they bite.

This is far from the truth.

Actually, there is very little chance that you would be bitten by a rat.

Furthermore, they are quite tidy as they groom themselves, just like their arch enemies, cats.

The friendly nature of pet rats

People often ask, “are rats good pets?”

It might be challenging to believe, but a rat can be quite a bonding animal.

They often have a strong bond with their owners, forming a close attachment with them.

The intelligence of pet rats

Are rats smart? They sure are!

Rats will leave you impressed with their intelligence.

They have a knack of solving problems.

If they want something, they will think of a solution to get it.

Indeed, they might even learn their names and respond when you call out to them.

You can teach them tricks, and it would often not take more than two tries for them to learn them.

Some tricks you can teach them are sitting up, jumping through a hoop, and walking a tightrope.

Sounds interesting, doesn’t it?

There is more. Rats are quite empathic as well.

As per a study, when given the option of choosing a reward, rats did not opt for food, preferring to free a caged animal instead.

This is not something you often find.

Do rats like to play often?

Yes. Rats enjoy playing and are quite fond of climbing as well.

Thus, you will find them having fun using ropes, ladders, and tunnels.

It might be a good idea to provide them with toys such as cardboard tubes and blocks of wood.

Wood toys and rope would work better compared to plastic toys.

This is because rats tend to chew on their toys, and plastic materials would not be able to bear the pressure.

Rats like being challenged and thus you might want to rotate the toys regularly to ensure that they are not bored.

Some rats enjoy exercise wheels, while others do not.

Make sure that the play area outside the cage is rat-proofed.

This is because rats like to chew on anything and everything.

Beware; electrical wires should be out of their reach.

Ensure that rats do not have access to any toxic material which can harm them.

How should I house a pet rat?

If you have decided to keep a pet rat, you need to make sure that you provide it with the best possible care.

Firstly, you will need a house for your little friend.

A large wire cage is quite suitable for these little ones. It would be even better if the cage has horizontal bars, allowing the rat to climb on the sides.

If you have multiple rats, you might want a tall cage with platforms and ramps.

A cage with floor space of 2 square feet is sufficient for two small rats, provided the cage is tall and furnished with shelves.

Keep in mind; do not opt for cages that have wire flooring.

Cover wire balconies with a solid material such as wood.

The ideal scenario would be placing the cage in a quiet environment but near social activity.

Rats tend to be active during the night and thus require a quiet surrounding during the day.

The rat will feel secure if you place the cage on a stand or table.

Direct exposure to sunlight should be avoided.

Make sure other pets do not threaten the rat like a cat or dog.

Place some nesting material in the cage which would work as bedding for the little creatures.

What care should be provided to pet rats?

For one thing, make sure that your cat does not feel lonely or bored.

If you would be away a lot, consider getting a pair of rats so that they have some company all the time.

Protect them from other household pets.

1. Diet

You can find block-type diets for rats on the market.

These are nutritionally adequate for these animals.

Opt for a rat block which is low in fat and caloric content. Soy meal would work better than corn.

You can also offer them fresh foods for variety.

You can feed them small bits of fruits and vegetables, bread, yogurt, and brown rice.

They might also enjoy dog biscuits as treats.

Remember; rats need a diet with low fat and high fiber.

Ceramic food dishes would be most suitable for rats.

This is because they are sturdy, with less risk of tipping over. You will also find them easier to clean.

2. Nail trimming

The nails of rats are sharp.

Thus, you will need to check them monthly.

Your rat will probably not be too thrilled when you try to trim its nail and would squirm and object.

Human nail clippers can be used. Simply trim the tiny bit from the tip.

Do not touch the pink part as it has nerve endings and blood vessel.

Bleeding might occur if the blood vessel is nicked.

Use cornstarch for stopping the bleeding.

Also, make sure that your rat’s teeth are not overgrown.

3. Cleaning

Contrary to popular belief, rats hardly stink.

They have a sweet odor.

Thus, cleaning their cage is quite easy.

Replace the bedding material, wipe the cage with a wet cloth, and you are done.

4. Health conditions

Rats might face many health problems similar to cats and dogs.

You might find them suffering from digestive or respiratory conditions.

Indeed, rats can also develop tumors.

While rats can be treated via surgery, few are willing to bear the expense.

Thus, it is advisable to ensure that your rat is taken care of in the best possible manner.

A veterinary checkup every six months might be a good idea.

Related Questions

Do rats recognize their owners? Yes. It might sound unbelievable, but the truth is that rats do identify their owners.

They will often seek you out as they like to be near you.

Furthermore, rats also enjoy a bit of petting.

A gentle stroke behind the ears or a rub on the belly works great for them.

Are rats as smart as dogs? Indeed! Rats are highly intelligent.

They learn fast and are quick to grasp new concepts.

Although smaller than dogs, they are not far behind them in figuring out new things.

In fact, you can teach rats quite a lot of dog tricks.

This is not all; rats also enjoy dog biscuits.

How long do rats live as pets? The average lifespan of rats is around two to three years.

Thus, if you are someone who tends to get highly attached to his pets, perhaps rats are not the best option for you.

They are quite enjoyable companions, but this companionship is short-lived.

On the other hand, if you like the idea of keeping a pet but not for a long duration, rats might be the perfect option for you.

You can enjoy the perks of having a pet and that without having to abandon them after a while.

Can you keep a wild rat as a pet? This is not really advisable.

Wild rats are dirty and carriers of a lot of diseases.

They do not have the soft and friendly temperament of domesticated rats.

Therefore, it would be best to stay clear of them.

They might look cute, but they can be quite dangerous and not worth the risk.

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