No animal is as misunderstood as the rat. Pet rats are gentle, friendly and very social creatures who are people loving and bond with their owners. Rats can learn tricks; they can learn their names and come when called and can even be litter box trained. Rats live an average of 2.5 – 3 years. Some rats have lived to be close to four years old.
A rat’s physiology is very close to humans, which is why they use rats in lab testing. Because of this, rats can eat almost all the same foods as us, making feeding time a treat for both human and rat. Of course a well balanced diet is always recommended, but the occasional piece of chocolate will make any rat a happy camper!
Rats are family oriented creatures who live in large groups in the wild. Domestic rats also need companionship in order to live full happy lives. Most rats will get along with others and to solve the problem of over population spaying or neutering is recommended, or keeping only one sex of rat in your home. Sterilizing can also solve behavior or aggression problems and will leave male rats smelling fresher with softer coats and less buck grease on their skin.
Rats are often described by their owners as being like “tiny dogs”‘ in their behavior. A well socialized rat will want to be with his person as much as he can. Rats will reach for you through their cage bars and groom you once you are there. Unlike other small mammals, you can play games with your rats. Fetch, chase and hand wrestling are just a few of the more common games rats play naturally, no training involved!
Rats come in many different varieties, including hairless, rex (wavy fur), or even dumbo rats who’s ears are set on the side of their head. Not to mention the myriad of colors and coat patterns to choose from!
Rats are fun to house! Gone are the days when all they got was a cardboard box and some wood shavings. Rats love hammocks to lounge in, tubes to run through, houses to hide in, wheels to run on and different cage levels to play chase on and a litter box to do business in. The bigger the cage the happier they are and you should see how excited they get when you clean their cage and change things around! They have so much fun exploring their new digs.
Most rats are afraid of heights and won’t jump off of furniture or shoulders making “‘out of cage” time a treat. You can set up an obstacle course on your bed and not worry that your rat will run away. If he should end up on the floor, not to worry! A well socialized rat will go right back to their cage or their human when they get bored or hungry. Supervision is always recommended.
There is so much more to learn about these magnificent animals. Given what you’ve just read, don’t you think they are worth rescuing? We sure do.