First things first, do not attempt to pick up a rat off the street and domesticate it. Pet rats have been bred to have a docile temperament and carry no diseases. However, street rats have not, and they most likely are carrying at least one disease that could be harmful to you or your family.
Now that we all know we’re talking about specially bred pet rats and not the one’s you’d find behind a trash can, we can talk about what great pets they make! They are smart, curious, and social little creatures that can even be taught tricks if they are trained properly.
Rats have strong bonds with their owners
Any rat owner will tell you that their rat responds to their voice more than strangers. They are very social little guys and enjoy being a part of the fun. Your pet rat would love to hang out on the couch or sit on your shoulder while you’re working on the computer or watching TV. Watch out though, they make try to groom you like you’re part of the pack.
Rats are smart and emotional
For such a small little thing rats are actually very intelligent and can even be trained. This is part of the reason why rats are often used for psychological studies about human behavior. Rats have proven to be able to learn tricks, solve puzzles and simple problems, and even solve difficult mazes. All that is needed to start training a rat is some dedication a little cheese never hurt.
Rats have also been known to be able to recognize their name and respond to it when called. They even show empathy for their fellow rats when they display distress or pain. This is something that is rarely seen in any other breeds in the animal kingdom.
Rats need vet check-ups just like cats and dogs
Rats can suffer from medical problems like breast tumors, respiratory diseases, and UTIs just like other pets. In order to keep your pet rat around for as long as possible, you’ll need to invest in some preventative care. You’ll want to find a veterinarian who is experienced with rats or rodents. A good rule of thumb is a vet visit every 6 months or whenever you notice a significant change in behavior.
Rats are clean
Unlike their unfortunate reputation may lead you to believe, pet rats are actually very clean animals. Much like cats, they are meticulous groomers who do not like being dirty. They also love to groom each other, which can sometimes include their owners if they have a strong enough bond.
Apart from your typical idea of a “clean animal” they are also very organized. Rats have been known to gather and organize their food into piles. Sometimes they even sort through their food and separate them by shape or type.