Believe it or not ... rats can be the perfect pet!! Let go of everything you've ever thought about rats and consider the benefits with an open mind:
- Rats are social animals. Many small pets don't like being handled, but rats get used to careful socialization easily, and come to enjoy riding in pockets and on shoulders.
- They like people!
- Because rats are so social, if you're going to get one, you ought to get two so they can keep each other company.
- Rats are smart.
- Rats respond quickly to food-based training and seem to love to perform.
- Rats are agile and sturdy. Try to get a guinea pig to run a maze or climb a ladder, and you'll appreciate the fleet-footedness of a rat.
- Rats can stand up to the handling -- and occasionally, the unintentional mishandling -- of well-meaning children.
- Rats are cute. Really. Think sleek, shiny fur, dark, glossy eyes and cute little ears.
- Rats come in loads of colors and coat patterns? Think colors like silver mink, platinum, blue and chocolate, and markings like hooded (the head a different color than the body) or masked or patched.
- Rats are easy to keep. Get a cage sized for a larger pet, such as a guinea pig, and your rat will be content. Add bedding, a place for them to hide and sleep, a food dish, water bottle and some toys. (These can be freebies, such as the leftover core of a paper-towel roll, or small untreated blocks of wood.)
Your rat will happily eat the food manufactured for them, and will love you if you add fruit, nuts, vegetables and other "people food."
The downside of rats? They don't live all that long -- two to three years -- and they're prone to tumors. As with all small pets, cage changes must be frequent, otherwise the smell will become unpleasant, to you and your pets both.