When one thinks of rats, they're usually barraged with images of beady eyes, snake-like tails, and sharp incisors. And despite their growing popularity as pets, negative perceptions still prevail.
However, these perceptions, as perpetuated by horror movies, are misguided. Rats actually make incredible pets, far surpassing typical hamsters and gerbils in terms of sociability and friendliness. Yet, these qualities are often ignored, and rarely enjoyed by prospective pet owners.
Just like other species of pets, rats come in a variety of breeds and colors, such as Siamese, Himalayan, Cinnamon, Blue, Silver, Fawn, and Chocolate and vary in size and personality.
Here are just 12 reasons on why you should adopt pet rats:
1. They are extremely social.
Much like dogs, rats will eagerly greet you when you walk up to their cage and will welcome-- or demand-- your attention just the same. Ratties love human contact with their owner, whether it means snuggling up in your lap for a nap, or sitting atop your shoulder while you do homework. It is rare that your rats will remain in their enclosures when you approach their cage, much unlike other rodents who seek refuge whenever humans approach.
Additionally, rats will get along with any animal you introduce them to. With strict supervision, rats love playing with other species, such as dogs and cats.
2. They will make lifelong bonds with you.
Because of their social nature, it doesn't take long for your rat(s) to bond with you. This means, your rattie will get excited when they hear your voice and will run to you when they are frightened. Most interesting, bonded rats will often groom their owners, just as they would their cage-mates. This means kisses, and lot's of them!
3. They are highly intelligent and easy to train.
Due to their small sizes, many people often believe rats to be dumb-- however, that is far from the case. With proper training, rats can learn to get through mazes, accomplish puzzles, play games of fetch, complete obstacle courses, and solve problems. Just like their k9 counterparts, rats can learn their names and perform basic commands such as sit, roll-over, come, and lay down. Most compelling to prospective owners, rats are easy to potty-train, which makes cage-cleaning a far easier ordeal.
4. They have their own version of purring.
Whenever a rat is happy, they will make a noise called 'bruxing', which occurs when the rat grinds down on its teeth. Bruxing can be associated with a cat's purr, which is a sign of happiness as well.
Happy rats will also "popcorn" or excitedly jumping around when they're happy. A cool thing about rats is that their emotional states are fairly easy to discern through their actions.
5. They love our favorite foods.
Corn on the cob.
Donuts. Rats have a sweet tooth just like us, but it's important to limit your rat's consumption of sweets as it will lead to obesity and other health concerns.
....And maybe even some foods we don't like.
As you can tell, rats love food, and will eat just about everything. However, it's important to consult feeding guides to ensure you're giving your pet non-toxic foods. Click here for a complete list of foods.
6. They love sleeping as much as us, too.
Rats typically sleep more throughout the day, but are known to adjust their sleeping schedules to match their owners. This is just another way rats show their bonds to their owners-- whenever you're awake, they want to be awake too.
7. They have the CUTEST yawns.
So. Freaking. Cute.
8. They all have different personalities.
Another thing people are often surprised to hear is that rats have very distinctive, developed personalities that vary from rat-to-rat. While some rats are more inquisitive and exploratory, others are calmer and more affectionate. This is fairly easy to see in my two rats, Finn and Milo. Whenever I take them out, Finn (the more inquisitive one) will immediately run around my room, climbing and exploring everything he can, while Milo is more content with sitting in my lap instead. This is not at all uncommon for rat pairs.
As a general rule, females (does) tend to be more active while males (bucks) are more affectionate, but this can vary as well. As a result, rats tend to do some pretty silly things (such as drinking out of the same water bottle at once).
9. They're fairly easy to care for.
For a happy and healthy existence, rats really just need a spacious cage that is full of hammocks, tubes, sleeping enclosures, chew toys, paper bedding, cage-mates, lab blocks for food, clean water, daily exercise outside of the cage, and of course, your unconditional love.
However, rats are prone to various health risks such as mammary tumors in females and upper respiratory infections. However, most complications can easily be dismissed with veterinary care and antibiotics. Therefore, it is important to note that your commitment to these animals must extend to occasional vet visits if necessary.
10. They keep themselves clean.
Rats are constantly grooming themselves or each other, which means you will rarely have to bathe them. Additionally, rats tend to keep their living spaces fairly clean as well, which definitely helps you out as well.
11. You can even take them on walks.
Rats love walks because it gives them a chance to explore places they wouldn't otherwise, and they typically do not mind being on a harness.
12. They are the BIGGEST cuddle bugs.
Whether it be with you or their cage mates, rats love cuddling. And honestly, it's probably the cutest thing ever.