Should I buy a pet rat?
Rats don't always have the best reputation, because they are sweet, intelligent, affectionate pets. A pet rat, also known as a fancy rat, can be a great addition to your family.
Why a Rat?
You may get some strange looks when you mention you're considering a pet rat, but this is only because you're talking to people who don't know what great pets rats can be. Contrary to their sewer-dwelling cousins, your standard pet rat will be clean and healthy. They can be kept in a fairly small rodent cage, but have intelligence close to that of a housecat. They can even learn tricks, if you're patient and have a good relationship with your new friend.
What You'll Need
Before you go out and buy supplies for your new pet, make sure that your home is well-suited for rats. Rats do fine in cold weather, but can become overheated if the temperature rises too much. Make sure you have enough room to fit your cage. If you have other pets, especially cats, make sure that the cage is kept safe off the ground. Make sure that nothing, such as curtains or bedsheets, are hanging agains the cage. Your rat may drag a piece of cloth through the bars of their cage and eat it to pieces.
Buy as big of a cage as you can afford and fit in your room. Rats will be much happier and well-adjusted if they have plenty of room t move around. Make sure you get a metal cage; rats are impressive chewers, and will work their way through a wooden cage in no time flat.
Get a small water bottle or water dish, a food dish, rat food, wood chips and something to chew on. You can buy your rat toys and various in-cage activities, but the above are the real neccessities.
You can find a pet rat at your local pet store. in the US, they usually don't cost more than ten dollars each.
You should seriously consider buying two rats instead of one. Caring for two rats isn't much more difficult than caring for one, and they will keep each other company. Rats are very social creatures, and will become lonely if left alone in their cages. If you only have one rat, you will need to socialize with it often.
If you get more than one rat, make sure they are all of the same gender.
The wood chips should be spread out in a thick layer over the bottom of the cage. This will absorb urine and feces, and will also help satisfy the rat's natural urge to dig and chew. Clean out the wood chips regularly and replace them with a fresh layer. Don't just lay new wood chips over the old layer.
Keep their food dish and water bowl full. Your rats will eat and drink at their own pace. If you don't have any pre-packaged rat food on hand, try feeding them any number of fruits or veggies, such as carrots, grapes, peas and melon.