Rats as pets?? Of course!!!!!
Why a rat?
When my kids asked me for a small pet, I ran through all the obvious choices-hamsters, gerbils, rabbits, guinea pigs, and ferrets. Having had most of these myself as a child, I remember all to well the responsibilities that went along with them. But never the less I thought my kids would enjoy having a small animal to help take care of.
I began doing some research online to see what pets would be the best for my kids ages-4 and 7. Surprisingly, over and over again the same result came up-a rat. My first reaction was probably like many people---EWWWWWW!!!! But as a read about them, I became less grossed out and more intrigued. Sure they were cute little things-(minus the long tail!!), but it was the overall profile of these critters that drew me in. I wanted an animal that my kids could handle, without being bitten, and could bond with. I also knew that having 2 boys-I would probably have to get 2 of these animals, one for each kid to "claim". I also wanted something that would not require me to air out the house every day to get rid of the "poo-poo" smell! Its seems as if rats fit all those requirements!
- The average life span of a rat is 2-3 years
- Average length 9-11 inches, tail 7-9 inches
- Rats are nocturnal animals, so they will be active at night
- Rats are non aggressive and easily tamed
- Rats are very intelligent, learning their names and even can do tricks
- Rats like to chew-they need to in fact to keep their teeth worn down, so that they don't overgrow and cause eating difficulties.
- Rats are very inexpensive-most pet stores carry them for an average of $10.00 a rat
- They are generally low maintenance, not very smelly, and easy to care for
- Rats are sociable animals, prefer to be in pairs or groups, and love attention
How to care for a rat
Caring for your rat is relatively easy. They will need an appropriate cage, one that is designed for rats, not hamsters or rabbits. The bars will need to be close together to prevent escaping, and also should allow the rats to climb, as they love to do. The cage should be large enough for the amount of rats you have. Rats love to hide under and in things, and there are a variety of little houses and caves you can put in the cage for them. My kids have gotten very creative with what they use as their rats houses! You can also use cardboard tubes and wooden boxes for them as they can chew on them too. The litter should NOT be made of cedar of pine shavings-due to health risks. There are all kinds of new great litter made of recyclable products like newspaper, that is soft and absorbs odor well. There should be a water bottle that is easily accessible to the rats, and a food bowl-I like the ones that attach to the cage, so it won't get tipped over. The cage should be changed approximately once a week, and its as easy as removing the bottom pan, dumping the old litter in the trash and laying down a new layer of litter. I barely have to wipe the pan out!
Feed your rats food that is designed for rats-- pelleted or block type diets are available for rats, and are formulated to be nutritionally complete. Rats also loves treats-I found the best ones are banana chips, and I get them at my local dollar store!! They also love raw noodles, cereal, veggies and any other crunchy goody.
Pros and Cons
- non aggressive
- very socialble
- low maintenance
- easy to handle
- short life span
- cleaning is required
- Rat Fan Club
- Rats as Pets
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- Rats as Pets
What you need toknow about deciding on a rat as a pet - life span, size, and characteristics.
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