Tails Blog

Rats as Pets

Steve Coppell - Saturday, October 22, 2011

Rats are clean, intelligent and friendly animals that make great pets for young and old alike. With an average lifespan of two to three years, they are not a long term commitment, but there are some things you need to consider before you get started.

Before adopting a rat, consider whether you'll be able to interact with your pet on a daily basis. Rats require stimulation and shouldn't be left alone in their cage without company for long periods of time. The more interaction they have with you the more tame they will become.

Rats make wonderful pets for children; but are better suited to those over 10 years of age. Younger children need to be well supervised while handling and caring for rats because young children aren't always aware of how precious rats are and how quickly things can go wrong if they are squeezed or set free.

So are you thinking of getting more than one rat? 
Rats are social animals that require the company of other rats, so it is a good idea to get more than one rat. Try to get two of the same sex. Two rats are no more difficult to care for than one, and having a pair doesn't mean they will bond with you any less.

Males or Females

Males are generally bigger and more relaxed. They can make great lap rats and like to snuggle. Males can mark their territory and possibly have a muskier smell, although its not a bad smell. Neutered males tend to mark and smell less. 

Females are smaller, sleeker, and generally more active. They are great fun to watch and play with, but less likely to sit still. They do slow down as they age and usually love receiving cuddles. Unfortunately they are also more prone to tumours.

Settling in

When you get your new rat home, place them in their home for a few hours. Most rats will be a little nervous to begin with, so let them get use to their new surroundings in their own time and handle them gently.