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My first pet rat

Updated on January 6, 2008

How I began to love rats

The story of how I became interested in rats is a good one to share. Why? Because it helps dispel some myths about rats, and also showcases some things you should not do when you have a pet rat.

I've always been an animal lover, and particularly liked rodents. Probably because my parents wouldn't let me have a cat, and I knew I'd be living in dorms for a while. Rodents are quiet, and much easier to sneak into dormitories.

One day I was visiting a friend in another dorm, and her roommate started talking about how she had a pet rat and was going to "set it free." I didn't know anything about rats, but I knew it was cruel to put any domesticated animal out in the wild to fend for itself. Cruel, inhumane, and just horrible.

Quickly, I offered to take the rat from her. Forgive my lack of knowledge about rats, but I accepted the glass aquarium Heather came in, not knowing how bad these are for rats' sensitive respiratory systems. Well-ventilated cages are a must for rats.

The first thing I had to get over was Heather's tail. So many people say the only thing they don't like about rats is their slimy looking tail, and I admit I was a little freaked out by it.

But Heather was my new companion, and she deserved to be handled and petted. So I started stroking her tail. It wasn't slimy at all, much to my amazement. It was soft and furry when I stroked in one direction, and bristly in the other direction.

When I held Heather, she used her tail like a propeller to balance herself, and sometimes partially wrapped it around my wrist with almost prehensile strength. Her tail was awesome.

I'm also not one to leave animals stuck in their cages. I must have sensed Heather's strong desire to get out, so I played with her on my bed a lot, letting her get "lost" in my sheets.

One time I let her run around on the floor, after carefully making sure there were no holes for her to escape through. She loved it! I found her playing in a pile of clothes (I wasn't the neatest person in the world), poking her head out and having a ball. From then on, Heather rarely stayed in her cage.

I also realized that Heather would probably love a variety of food, so I started giving her green, leafy vegetables, carrots, and lots of cool things. Unfortunately, I also gave her lots of popcorn, something which made her begin to get fat. Not good. An occasional snack is okay, but rats need to eat healthy, just like we do.

What really sold me on rats was when I realized how easy they are to train. Heather was playing on the floor one day and I started calling her name. To my surprise, she came straight to me. I repeated the new "game," and she complied almost every time.

Unfortunately, though, I did get caught with a pet in my room, and had to give Heather to another loving home. Luckily, this new owner realized I'd overfed Heather, and knew that she needed a rat companion.

So, thanks to Heather, I learned how awesome rats are. And I learned about caring for them properly. I went on to have 9 more rats once I moved to an apartment. Heather lived the rest of her days with a wonderful owner and new rat friend.

Are you a rat owner, or are you considering it? When did you first realize that you wanted to have pet rats?

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    • profile image

      Zoe baxter 

      6 years ago

      I really want a pet rat! Maybe my mom might just let me have one? I already have hamsters

    • profile image

      Christie  

      7 years ago

      Hi Theda,

      I'm from Hong Kong, studying in Sydney Aus. I'm an animal lover but unfortunately I can't take my chihuahua to Sydney because he's quite old already, my mom wants him to stay with her and customs are so strict in Aus my dog will be quarantined for at least 3 months when he arrives Australia. I've been in Syd for 2 years and it's been so difficult without animals around me so I finally decided I'll get a pair of male rats as my companion. My parents and some friends think I'm crazy but how can you look into these awesome precious animals with beady eyes and say they're horrible! I've done some research and I think Rats will be perfect for me, I'm just a little worried what the landlord and my flatmate will think :S

    • profile image

      chocolatebunny 

      7 years ago

      i luv rats im also going 2 get one cos my hamster died he wos called Poco, i miss him. He used 2 giv me kisses,

      lol!!!!!

    • profile image

      Galexy 

      7 years ago

      My friend has a rat and I said to her that i would like one.

    • profile image

      stephanie 

      7 years ago

      stop putting your ads all over

    • profile image

      Jayack :) 

      8 years ago

      I REALLY REALLY REALLY want a rat!!

      but my parents wont let me get one haha

      so im going to get one anyway

      i have a rather large mouse cage that i will keep a pair in until they get to big and i will buy them a bigger one...and also break the news to the parents!

      im soooo excited

    • profile image

      Kathy 

      9 years ago

      I am down to 3 rats - males & brothers. They are awesome. I had abobut 23 at one time - before I realized how females can & WILL squeeze out of their cages (LOL) we live and learn.

      They are adorable, intelligent and just fun. They know their names and my girls would run to the cage and give me a kiss everytime I'd say "kiss kiss"

      Want more but not yet. Loved your stories

    • Cam Anju profile image

      Cam Anju 

      9 years ago from Stoughton, Wisconsin

      I love rats, I had to get over the tail... but once I realized how wonderful they were the tail never concerned me again. :)

    • MicheleT profile image

      MicheleT 

      10 years ago

      I think albino rats are beautiful. I used to help raise them when my parents owned a petshop. It was amazing!

    • Jackilyn profile image

      Jackilyn 

      10 years ago

      once you have one that loves you , oyur edicted! =]

    • Theda K. profile imageAUTHOR

      Theda K. 

      10 years ago from Tucson, Arizona

      Thanks for commenting, Jackilyn. I understand why people don't like them (just like I had a fear of spiders), but I hope more people could realize how great they are.

    • Jackilyn profile image

      Jackilyn 

      10 years ago

      awe, that ws nice. i luv rats, who doesn't ???...

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