Some people love them and some want to run screaming onto the nearest chair, but for those that can keep their feet on the floor these intelligent rodents can make outstanding play fellows! Rats are very active and social- they love toys and games and can even learn how to fetch – seriously!
Possibly the largest drawbacks to keeping rats are their short life-spans (2-3 years commonly) and their need for a larger space. They might not be too big on their own, but for happy, healthy prowlers you’ll need a decent size cage which requires regular cleaning and naturally some space.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that rats are nocturnal and you’ll want to set aside time during that active state for socializing. Households that require tranquil evenings may find this troublesome, but night owls will love the scurry social hours that these incredible rodents crave.
Now zipping back to the subject of life-span, let’s address one of the most common fears people have about bringing rats into their homes: disease!! It’s true- they helped the plague back in the day, but if you do a little research before purchasing your new fuzzy buddy(ies) you can find pet-friendly versions that won’t fill your house with a bunch of unwanted, microscopic terrorists. A common misconception is that all rats are diseased and it’s simply not the case! Most of the health problems they suffer from are due to breeding complications (let’s just say it – people greed) and are not of the rat-human contamination type. I’m not saying that you should skip down to your local sewer and start collecting friends, but saying all rats are diseased is as silly as saying all vegetable taste like Brussels sprouts. In fact, when compared with many similar small pets, rats are relatively clean and stink-free. A real bonus for those with sensitive noses! They can still be bathed, (yes there are rat bathing supplies- I kid you not,) but much like a cat they usually won’t require it.
Last of all I’d like to mention what’s probably obvious to most (but just in case): Guy and Gal rats need separate living quarters! Unless you’re hoping for a super-sized rat family, you’ll want to make sure that your male and female rats don’t get much alone time. Or maybe any at all. Point of fact: A female rat can mate about 500 times with various males in a period of 6 hours when she’s essentially in rat-heat. You run to the bathroom for two minutes and find yourself with a rat litter – it can happen that fast, so unless you want plenty of those teensy stork deliveries keep your rodents to a strict PG environment.
Less Smelly (Mostly Self Cleaning)
Die too soon: 2-3 years
Larger Cage – Space Taker
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