Do Rats Make Good Pets?

Although society tends to shine an ugly light on rats, making them out to be dirty, scavenging creatures, they can in fact make very good pets for the right family. Learn more below as a Vista veterinarian discusses the care and personality of pet rats.

Typical Behavior

Rats are bright, lively, intelligent rodents. They’re also very social animals, and in fact will be happiest if kept with another rat companion! Know that getting two rats at a time is probably the best way to keep your pets happy.

Remember that rats are largely nocturnal. They may be more active in the nighttime hours than in the day, so consider carefully where you might put your rat’s cage, how it will affect your sleep, and how it might affect anyone else in the household. Your veterinarian can tell you more about rat behavior and sleeping patterns—don’t hesitate to call!

Care Requirements

A rat—or pair, as the case may be—will need a relatively large cage, outfitted with various toys and plenty of hiding spots. Ask your vet about the proper bedding material to line your rat’s cage with, as well as what type of food he’ll need. You can buy commercial rat food at pet supply shops, and supplement the diet with fresh fruits and vegetables. Check with your veterinary professional before trying to feed your pet any food you’re unsure about.

Also be aware that a pet rat will require up to an hour of exercise time outside of their cage every day. With consistent human contact, your rat should become well-socialized and friendly, but that won’t happen if you leave your rat in his cage at all times.

How to Choose a Rat

When going about picking a rat to bring home, make sure you’re getting a healthy one. A rat should be alert and active, and not appear overly fat or skinny. Look at the coat to make sure it is clean and smooth, and check the face area. The eyes, ears, nose, and mouth should be clean and clear of any pus or debris.

Rats can make great pets for those who know what they’re getting. Ask your Vista veterinarian for more advice, and choose carefully!