Here are 8 fascinating facts about pet rats.
If you’re looking for a pet that’s small, clean, and not too demanding, a domesticated rat is one option. While many people are leery of keeping a rat in their home, pet rats are just as safe as any other domesticated animal.
1. Pet rats are not like wild rats
They are members of the same species, but there are essential differences between the two. Pet rats, which were initially called “fancy rats,” have been domesticated for over 100 years and are physiologically distinct from their wild cousins. Pet rats are not aggressive toward humans and usually do not carry diseases.
2. Pet rats must be obtained in specific ways.
Don’t try to catch a wild rat and then tame it; that’s dangerous and will lead to failure. Instead, buy your pet rat from a reliable pet store or a responsible breeder, or claim a rescued rat at an animal shelter.
3. Pet rats must be kept in secure cages.
The cage should be large enough to allow for play and exploration. It must also be secure, as rats can escape through a tiny space or a loosely attached lid. Do not use a fish aquarium, as this provides insufficient ventilation.
4. Pet rats eat almost anything
They are omnivores, which means they can eat all varieties of food. Purchase packaged rat food from a pet store and supplement it with scraps from your kitchen. Meat, fruit, and vegetables are all fine. Avoid overfeeding your rat for health reasons. And keep a sipping bottle filled with clean water in the rat’s cage at all times.
5. Pet rats should be kept in groups
Because they are highly social creatures, it is unwise to keep a single rat as a pet. You should choose two or more of the same sex (to avoid reproduction). If possible, obtain your rats from the same litter to ensure compatibility.
6. Pet rats require minimal health care
They clean themselves and will stay healthy for their normal lifespan (two to three years) without veterinary care. Keep their cage clean and use appropriate bedding and litter. Wood chips are not advisable for either purpose. Instead, use dust-free cloth for bedding and paper-based materials for litter.
7. Pet rats need regular recreation time outside the cage
You should let your rat out of the cage for at least one hour every day. Before you do, ensure that your home is rat-proofed. Rats can squeeze through tiny spaces – such as gaps in floorboards and underneath doors. Also, cover wires and cables, as rats may chew them.
8. Pet rats enjoy challenges
They will try any pet-friendly toys and exercise equipment placed in the cage or around the home. Your rat will use a rodent wheel (make sure it’s large enough), run through an obstacle course, and may even let you train him to ride a miniature skateboard.
And there you have it.
For some of us, reading through this list of 8 fascinating facts about pet rats comes as no surprise. But if you’re new or warming up to the idea of a pet rat, know that you can keep them in a cage and they don’t require elaborate care or a long-term commitment. If these qualities appeal to you, a domesticated rat may be a good option for you. Pet rats are clean, problem-free, and much more intelligent than you may think.