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  • Writer's pictureJulie Reisinger, RVT, LATg

Rats Make Great Pets! Part Two: Is a Rat Right for You?

Did you know that rats can make great pets? Speaking from my own experience, they can be very playful, loving, and are highly trainable! We’ve already heard from a couple of pet rat owners, so for part two in our series about pet rats, we sent some questions to Desiree, the owner/operator of Ratology Tales, a rattery in the Denver Metro area, that has been breeding rats for pets, food, and show for nearly 6 years:

Do rats make good pets for children? Adults?

Rats can absolutely make great pets for both children who are 5 years and older and adults of all ages. Rats bond quickly with humans and they thoroughly enjoy human companionship. With two or more rats, they can also be wonderful pets for those with busy lifestyles. For anyone who is immunocompromised, extra caution should be taken with any animal, such as washing your hands after handling and not allowing pets near food.

What supplies are needed for proper rat care?

Wired cages and homemade cages are the ones I would recommend. The wired cages should have no more than ½ inch bar spacing to ensure your little one doesn’t escape. Homemade cages can be made out of sterilite bins, old cabinets and entertainment centers. You’ll need a quality food and water bottle. Avoid cedar bedding at all costs. But the best thing to get your rat is another rat!

Photo courtesy of Ratology Tales

What are the most commonly asked questions by new pet rat owners? The question that is asked the most is along the lines of “how to catch my rat/hold my rat/my rat won’t just come up to me”. When rats first get to a new home, they are trying to figure out what that home is going to be like. They may run and hide. The best thing for your rats is to handle them and get them out of their cage. Don’t let the rats decide to come out on their own, go in and force love upon them*. As you bond with your rats, they will start coming to the cage door to be let out and crave your attention. The biggest thing to remember is that you have to let your rats know that you aren’t a scary new person but their forever human.

*Rat bites are very, very rare, so don’t let that scare you into not handling your rats! - Julie

Where can people find pet rats?

Always research where you get your rats. I suggest looking for local rescues, checking out the humane society and other shelters and of course, support local ethical breeders.

Photo courtesy of Ratology Tales

Did you know that SLV Pet Care provides care for rodents, rabbits, birds, and other exotic animals?

What are the advantages/disadvantages of adopting an older pet rat?

Older pet rats are always my favorite to adopt out. Older rats are calmer than babies. Babies are always on the go, they want to explore and run and play. Older rats are more likely to just lay down and cuddle with you. When adopting an older rat, you already know what personality your rat will have. There are no differences to bonding with an older rat versus a younger rat. They both bond easily and either a baby or an adult will bond with you just as much. The biggest disadvantage with an older rat is length of time. Rats have a short lifespan as it is, and if you adopt an adult, there are a few months you won’t get with your baby.

What are some good resources for rat owners/people considering getting a rat?

Check out Facebook groups especially local ones where you can meet and talk to owners and breeders in your area. The American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association (AFRMA) is also a great source. Also there are so many breeder sites that have great information.

Photo courtesy of Ratology Tales

Here are some other online resources for those contemplating pet rat ownership:

Looking for a pet rat? Check these out:

Dumb Friends League Small Pet Adoptions - Includes pets at all adoption locations

Ratology Tales - Aurora

Blue Heart Rattery - Centennial

Read Part One of this series, or check out our other blog posts, like watching wildlife with your dog, hiking tips, and more! Subscribe to our blog at the bottom of this page to get notified when we publish something new, and don’t forget to follow us on Facebook to see our adventures (and cute animals)!



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