Often misunderstood and undeservedly underrated as pets, rats are incredibly intelligent little rodents, and they make great pets for children.
I know this better than most because I’ve kept rats as pets for the past five years, since being introduced to them by my husband. In fact, when our two male rats sadly died last month, it prompted me to write this article which will hopefully put to bed some of the myths about rats being dirty and unsuitable as pets.
“I don’t want a rat in the house, they’re dirty” was my first response to my husband suggesting we get some, but he talked me into it and I’ve grown to love the little critters so much since we started keeping them. Remember, we’re talking about pet rats here (also known as fancy rats) which are about as far removed from the wild, sewer dwelling rats that may spring to mind as, say, a Labrador is from a Coyote. Pet rats are clean (they are so easy to litter train and love keeping clean), highly intelligent and fun, and best of all for kids, they’re easy to tame and handle, love human interaction and rarely, if ever, bite. In fact, the only negative thing about rats as pets is the bad reputation they (undeservedly) seem to have.
In terms of intelligence, rats are light years ahead of more popular rodents such as hamsters and gerbils, which can be notably difficult to train and sometimes prone to biting. If you’re thinking of getting rats, it’s a good idea to get two as rats are very sociable creatures and a single rat would require lots more attention from you to keep him entertained.
Our own rats, Snow and Yuki (Yuki is in the picture), died last month as I mentioned. It’s hard to imagine, unless you’ve had rats yourself, how two little rodents could leave such an impression but they really did. They had such sweet personalities and were entirely devoted to each other, as well as being loving and fun companions to my husband and I. Both had become old but Snow’s movements deteriorated one evening and Yuki didn’t leave his side until the very end. In the morning we found them both dead, snuggled up together, and we buried them that way the next day. I never would have believed that a rat could die from a broken heart until I saw Yuki that morning, but in a way it was sweet that they went together. We’re expecting a little girl soon and once she’s old enough for her first pet we have already decided it will be a pair of rats.
I hope this little insight into the world of rats has got people thinking about their potential as pets for children and adults alike; rats really are the most adorable creatures and you certainly won’t regret it if you decide to buy some.