Unlike what many people expect, pet rats are in fact very clean, smart and affectionate animals. They make for great pets and one of the major reasons is because they bond with humans in the same way that dogs do.
Known by their species name, Rattus Norvegicus, the rats you would keep as pets are exactly the same as the wild, brown rats found in the countryside. They have however been bred to be a lot more calm and cute (of course) over the years so they can be even more ideal household pets. Their ancestors were a lot more aggressive towards humans as well as other rats, so they would have been much more likely to bite or scratch. Over time this aggressiveness has been largely bred out. The pet rats of today are cute, sensitive and gentle.
Play Time – The Key to Healthy, Well Adjusted Rats!
Spend some time with them and you will find that your pet rat can easily learn many tricks. They can come to you when called by name and much more.
Unlike other pets however, rats need quite a bit of attention to keep them healthy and happy. This is because they are really smart and need sufficient mental stimulation and play time. They need a full hour outside their cage to play and run wild. If they don’t get enough attention from other rats or their owner, rats can get depressed and it shows in their mood.
When taken care of however, they are very affectionate and happy creatures. Rats do not suit people with very busy schedules that cannot give them the time and attention they need. For those people, a less high-maintenance pet like a cat would be a better choice.
Choose Responsible Breeders over Most Pet Stores…
Baby rats are called kittens and it’s vital that you only buy your rats from a responsible breeder. These breeders know how to properly socialize them so that they know how to respond to humans. This way the transition to a real owner is not too traumatic. Also, rats that were moved to a busy pet store are more likely to be stressed out and have behavioral problems or diseases that they caught from the other animals.
A good breeder allows you to check out the relatives of the rats to see if they are healthy and behave normally. They will also be more supportive if you run into any problems and have advice for you if you have any questions.
Many pet stores tend to treat rats and all animals for that matter as inanimate ‘stock’ without regard for their well-being. The advice from pet stores also tends to be questionable and the staff are often inexperienced, low-paid high school kids doing it for the pocket money. Since there are no qualifications necessary to sell pets, the people running them are often doing it purely for financial reasons. They most often buy their rats from pet wholesalers where they are bred by the thousands, get stressed out and can pick up many diseases.
There is also the pressure to get them into the stores while they are still small and cute and this means they need to be taken from their mothers way before they are ready. These facts make buying a pet rat from them a bit of a gamble.
Good Pet Stores?
If you do go for a store, make sure it’s one that only accepts small amounts straight from local breeders, although this is rare, they do exist.
Good breeders and pet shops put a ton of time into their rats to give them the best upbringing possible. They choose the healthiest and most friendly animals to breed from and will let the mother get plenty of contact. They make sure to handle them frequently from a really young age so by the time they are old enough to be sold, they love human contact.
These breeders should be able to tell you the date of birth for any particular rat and will most likely check to see if you can care for them adequately before they sell any to you. These breeders are usually not just in it for the money and actually care about each and every rat like their own.