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Rats As Pets : Do domestic rats make great pets?

Rats can be very good pets to pet lovers who are responsible. Keeping rats as pets might have grossed people out in the past but they are amazingly popular pets nowadays.
All kinds of rats, brown rats, black rats, giant pouched rats, are kept as pets today. First native to Asia (around India and China), the black and brown rats found their way around the world via the western trading ships that traded with Asian countries. At first they were considered as pests and disease carrying rodents but since the 19th century, special breeds of rats have been kept as pets throughout the world.


Rats are curious, playful, intelligent and cheap pets. Pet rats behave differently from wild rats and can even follow commands. They can be litter box trained and trained to respond when called by their name. Unlike popular belief, they do not pose health risk to people more than dogs or cats. Many people think that rats bite. This is only true if they are defending themselves or if the mother rat is defending the litter. However they can accidently bite you if you use your fingers to feed them.

Rats that are not very socialized are more prone to biting. You can overcome this behavior by playing with the rat more. Rats are usually quiet and wont squeak unless they are hurt. Occasionally, they squeak while playing with each other.

Rats have the average life span of 2-3 years. They are mostly active during night and are very social animal and do very good when kept in groups. They reach puberty at 6-8 weeks. If you do not want litters of pups, separate the males and females. Males get along fine with each other if introduced at a young age. Males are little larger than females but females are more active and playful.

It is best to get a pet rat when they are 6 weeks old as animals socialize easier and quicker when young. If not handled from an early age, they tend to be aggressive and jumpy. Frequently handling the rat is the key to having good relation with your pet rats. Let the rats out of the cages for at least once every day and play with them.

Finding a pet rat:
The first step in keeping rats as pet is finding a rat. Pet rats cat be bought from your local pet stores. However make sure they are fed a good healthy diet and their living conditions are clean. Rats that are handled since baby tend to be more playful so try to get a baby rat. Adults can also be good pets if handled every day.

Rattier and breeders is another good place to find pet rats, especially if you are looking for a particular breeds. Rescuing rats from shelters is not a bad idea either. Keep in mind that rescued rats may be little shy or skittish at first. Make sure the males and females are not housed together if you do not want litters.

What to look for while choosing a pet rat:
Healthy rats alert and active. Rats that are panicky or that are very quiet may be sick. Respiratory diseases are very common in rats. Rats that breathe heavy sneeze frequently or have fluid discharge from their eyes and nose and ears might be sick.

Rats that drool might have dental problems. Make sure to check the skin for sores, red spots or flakes as these are signs of skin disease. Healthy rats spend a lot of time grooming so shaggy rats need to be avoided.

Lastly like all other pets, rats require constant love care and devotion. Being responsible pet owner is the key in having happy and healthy rats as pets.

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