When people hear the word rat, they often get the heebie-jeebies. They think of rats as vermin. They think they are dirty, disease-spreading pests that should be exterminated. However, I am not one of those people. When I hear the word rat, I think back on some of the best pets I’ve ever owned. When I was 18 years old I decided to adopt a rat and I named her Phillis. She was absolutely my favorite pet. I grew up with hamsters and gerbils and was bitten often by both species. If I didn’t handle them every day they would become almost feral, especially the hamsters which are particularly dangerous. Also, if they ever happened to escape their cages they were almost impossible to catch again because they didn’t want to be handled. However, Phillis would come looking for me when she got out of her cage. In fact, I often left her cage door open because I knew she would willingly stay in her house unless she wanted to come out and socialize with people in the house. People say they don’t like their tails, but their personalities and friendliness absolutely make up for their tails, in my opinion. Phillis was only the first of many amazing pet rats that have been in my life and when my kids are older and want a pocket pet of their own, I won’t hesitate to buy them rats. If you still think rats are gross, then check out these pictures and you may change your mind!
1. Rats really are super lovable. They absolutely love to cuddle.
2. Rats make great pets, especially if you are in an apartment because they don’t need a big yard or lots of exercise. Or any exercise.
3. Rats can be smarter than dogs and cats. They can be taught to come to their names and do tricks.
4. Rats love to eat treats. My rat Marty really enjoyed roast beef.
5. Rats like to play games, like hide and seek and tug-of-war. They will also wrestle with your hand
6. Rats are nocturnal so they will sleep while you are away at work or school and play in the mornings and evenings.
7. Rats are incredibly clean animals and bathe themselves several times a day.
8. Rats can grow very strong bonds with their owners and can be extremely affectionate.
9. Unlike wild rats, which do not make good pets, domesticated rats have been selectively bred to be affectionate and gentle.
10. Rats love attention. My rat Robert used to steal my pencils while I did homework if he felt I wasn’t paying enough attention to him.
11. The worst part about owning a rat is how attached you become because they have an average life span of 2 to 3 years. However, my rat Marty lived for 5 years.
12. If you tickle rats and listen closely you can hear them giggle. (It’s true!)
13. Rats are very social but can also be loners as well, as long as you don’t forget to play with them.
14. Rats are quiet pets and you will never receive a noise complaint from annoyed neighbors.
15. Rats can have favorite toys that they refuse to chew up, like the tiny teddy bear in this rat’s arms!
16. There are many different species of domesticated rats. This one is a dumbo rat.
17. Rats can have LOTS of babies! When I decided to get my rat Marty a new friend named Winnie, she surprised me by having 17 babies a week after joining our family. I thought I prevented this from happening by having Marty neutered before getting her, but that didn’t help when I purchased a pregnant rat.
18. Rats truly are the best pocket pets! If you have never owned one, I would highly recommend it.
19. Rats are omnivores. They can survive on rat foods which consist of nuts, seeds, and dried fruit, but they also enjoy just about anything you can think to put in their cage. I would feed my rats fruit, veggies (they loved lettuce), meat, pizza… anything.
20. You can teach rats not to potty outside of their cage too. I would watch a movie with Phillis almost every evening and she never had accidents outside of her cage.
21. Rats can get super excited to see you. They are like pocket-sized dogs! You can even teach them to sit up, come to their name, fetch, and roll over among other things.
22. Rats love to be pet and rubbed behind the ears and on their necks.
23. Rats love being outside. They do great on leashes (with harnesses made just for rats) and will play hide and seek with you in tall grass.
24. Rats have as varied personalities as dogs and people do. While most are incredibly smart, some aren’t that bright. But I have never met a rat that wasn’t sweet and affectionate which is why they make the perfect child’s pet.
25. Rats learn routine extremely quickly. My latest rat Herbert knew when I started getting ready for bed and he would try to take as many toys (which included hair ties, pens, and anything else he could find) into his cage and then sit at the entrance waiting for me to hand him his nightly yogurt drop treat.
I cannot speak highly enough about domesticated rats for pets. They are so adorably cute and full of personality. They are smart and clean and friendly. It’s very rare that you have to worry about them biting, which makes them amazing kid’s pets. They are also quiet and loyal. I only have 3 negatives that come with owning a rat and those are easily avoided. 1. They don’t like when you put your finger through the bars of their cages, so don’t. 2. They reproduce faster than rabbits, so neuter your males or segregate sexes. 3. And lastly, they will chew your curtains and pull fabrics through the bars of their cages, so make sure you don’t put things too close to them! As far as negatives go when talking about pets, rats really aren’t that bad. Their benefits definitely out weigh the negatives. So if you are looking for a pet but don’t have the time or space for a dog or cat, then you should go get a rat. You won’t regret it.