Ultimate Guide of Pet Rats Pros and Cons

If you’re still unsure about what you could gain or why you should get a pet rat, there are more factors you may want to learn about or have heard about other than the cost, feeding, and lifespans of rats.

For example, knowing pet rats’ pros and cons or the differences in pet rats vs. wild rats may be important for you in the decision-making process. Or understanding the risks and prevention of pet rats’ diseases and the illnesses some pets like rats can carry.

If this is the case for you, you’ve found the right place. Here’s some detailed information on pet rats’ pros and cons, pet rat diseases, and pet rats vs. wild rats to better inform you.

How worth it are pet rats?

Pet rats vs wild rats

Most people automatically feel disgusted or fear when thinking about pet rats because their instant association is with the wild rats that are often disease-carrying and not appealing. This is understandable, but pet rats and wild rats are quite different physically and mentally. So, to better understand pet rats vs. wild rats, you should understand the similarities and differences between these two types of animals.

Pet rats and wild rats do have some similarities. This is because they are the same type of animal, and pet rats are a subspecies of a type of wild rat that has been specifically bred over time for domestication and then differently bred over time for altered appearance and sizes. Both pet rats and wild rats breed similarly in that they have litters of around 12 rat pups. And lastly, each type of rat is intelligent and social.

There are plenty of differences in the matter of pet rats vs. wild rats. For one, wild rats are destructive and tend to live up to or less than one year with more scruffy features and a larger size. Pet rats are smaller, more delicate-looking, can live 2-3 years, and aren’t generally destructive. Pet rats are also social with other rats and humans, whereas wild rats are usually only social with other rats. Wild rats are also prevalent disease carriers which are less common than pet rats.

Overall, the thought of pet rats vs. wild rats is semi-overlapping because pet rats descend from wild rats. However, the differences between these two types of rats are why pet rats are suitable for household existence and liked by many who own them. More can certainly be said about pet rats vs. wild rats, but these main ideas give you a good idea of the similarities and differences.

The risk of diseases in pet rats

Pet rat diseases are a common topic when discussing wild rats and pet rats, because like many other animals, especially smaller animals and rodents, pet rats have the ability and risk to carry or spread diseases that can be dangerous to humans. Pet rats can carry certain illnesses in their body that can spread through biting or through their saliva, urine, and feces by being released into the air.

While pet rat diseases are concerning for many pet owners or those on the fence about getting a pet rat, it’s possible and fairly easy to avoid. Often pet rats may not have diseases if cared for well and gotten from a reputable source. You can also take measures to avoid coming in contact with and allowing the spread of pet rats’ diseases when they’re present.

Some important things to keep in mind when you want to avoid pet rats diseases and contamination include: wash your hands before and after handling a pet rat, try not to stress out or startle a pet rat to avoid biting, keep rat cages well cleaned regularly, keep pets and their supplies away from food or regularly used and traveled areas of the home, and more. It’s generally recommended that the immune-compromised or particularly at-risk people such as children, pregnant individuals, the elderly, and so on do not attempt to keep pet rats or are extra cautious with the possibility of disease.

As long as you know this information and keep safe practices in mind and make sure your rat is healthy, you should be a lot safer from pet rat diseases.

Two pet rats being held in a hand.

Pet rat pros and cons

Whether you’re ready to purchase a pet rat or you’re still debating it, knowing some of the pet rat’s pros and cons are useful to get better an idea of what you’re getting into or if you truly want to give in to this idea. Here are some of the biggest or most important pet rat pros and cons to help inform you more on a decision about buying a new pet rat.

Pro: lower maintenance

Pet rats generally tend to be a little less maintenance than some other pet options. The most maintenance they need is the variety they need in their diet. Otherwise, they’re fairly clean animals that groom and clean themselves, plus they don’t always need you to pay attention to or take them out constantly. You can also keep them in a cage which makes it easier space-wise for some people. And rats can be litter trained, which makes it even more low maintenance to clean.

Con: can start a cycle

Most rat owners agree; signing up for just one pet rat is rarely ever signing up for only one. Often people fall in love with their rats and want more when theirs pass away, which starts the cycle of continuous long-term pet-owning for rat owners. Rats are also social creatures that do well in groups and often end up in rescues. This means it can be quite tempting and possible to grow your group of rats more by adopting or purchasing others overtime to give them company.

Pro: size

If you don’t particularly like mice and hamsters for being small and wiry to handle sometimes, rats are an easier version of that similar size range. They tend to be quite solid little creatures, and if you can’t get a full-sized pet like a cat or dog but don’t want something tiny then this idea could be great for you. Their size also means that they can be kept in a cage and don’t need quite as much space as options like ferrets or larger animals.

Con: vet prices

Often, the biggest con in the list of pet rats’ pros and cons is the vet prices that can rack up for them. Rats are often considered exotic pets in most veterinarian training, so it can be hard to find a competent vet practice near you to get care from. And many rats are prone to health issues in their lives, especially in older age, even when well-bred and carefully cared for. This can be a major cost in travel, paying for exotic vets, and health care and upkeep.

Pro: shorter commitments

The final pro in this pet rat’s pros and cons list is the commitment level associated with pet rats. Pet rats live between 1 and 3 years on average, which generally means they’re a much shorter commitment than other pets like reptiles or larger animals. You can enjoy a great time with your pet but don’t have to be committing to decades of care and costs when purchasing one. This might be a con for some people, but it can be essential for some pet owners.

There are some more pet rat pros and cons that could be added to this list, but again it’s nice to have at least a few main ones to keep in mind or consider when you’re ready for buying, owning, or considering pet rats. These little guys can be great companions for many people, but you have to be aware of and understand the pet rats’ pros and contains pet rats’ diseases and the topic of pet rats vs. wild rats to understand what you’re getting into truly.

This list can help anyone considering or even already an owner of pet rats to discuss better some concerns surrounding owning and caring for pet rats and common questions many people may have. When you think of pet rats, you probably have concerns due to your association with wild rats, which gets some better clarification in explaining pet rats vs. wild rats.

And learning about pet rats diseases, such as mites, as well as a list of pet rats pros and cons can help inform you in the matter of making the best decision for wanting a pet rat as well as being knowledgeable on important topics when you are a rat owner or plan to be one. 


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Emily Sanders

I'm Emily Sanders, an avid lover of pet rats and small household pets. Most of all, I adore my fancy pet rats and love sharing insightful and helpful information with others willing to learn about rats. If you're new to the world of pet rats, you'll find many of my pet rat guides of great use for getting acquainted. I hope to help you become an avid pet rat lover too.

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