Why rats make good pets

We recently added 2 more rats to our little furfamily, bringing us to a total of four! Our newbies are Nero and Merlin, who in a few weeks time will be introduced to our oldies, Spock and Castiel. Hopefully they will become BFFs that snuggle up together everyday providing me with many more squeals of delight and cute photo ops! Honestly, I’d say about 98% of the photos on my phone are of our boys! I just can’t get enough of them and I always want to share stories and photos! Unfortunately however, people often crinkle their noses when they discover we have rats. A question we get quite often is WHY? Why nasty vermin rodents? Well, I hope you are sitting comfortably because I am about to answer that question, right here, right now!

Before I continue, I’d like to clear two things up. This post refers to domesticated rats, NOT wild rats! Yes, there is a difference – generations upon generations of careful, selective breeding sets pet rats apart from wild rats! Also, I always point out that pet rats are not vermin. The very definition of vermin is “wild animals which are believed to be harmful to crops, farm animals, or game, or which carry disease”. My pet rats are not wild, they do not freely roam fields or farms, so technically are not harmful to crops or farm animals, and they do not carry disease! Speaking as someone who has OCD when it comes to hygiene, I wouldn’t have them if they did!

Now, what exactly makes them great pets? I always describe having rats as like having really tiny dogs! They bound and ‘popcorn’ (jump around like popping popcorn), they will cover you with licky kisses, demand your undivided attention, sulk when you don’t make enough fuss of them and always want a bit of your food, just like puppies! You can even train them to do tricks as they are very intelligent creatures. Practically speaking, they don’t take up much space and are relatively cheap to keep, in comparison to many other pets anyway! Whilst the inital costs of a good cage and toys might set you back a little, food and bedding is relatively cheap and easy to find! Of course, you might end up spoiling your furbabies with additional toys or extra cage space – it’s quite easy to spend a little bit more than you intend to! 😛 Even vet bills, whilst they might sting a little depending on where you live, are still far from being close to the vet bills for the likes of cats or dogs!
A lot of people ask about the smell – I’ll be honest here and say yes, boys can get a little stinky sometimes! Girls, we barely noticed any smell. Certain foods can make them smell a little more of course, and sometimes there is a bit of a pong just before cleaning day (which is usually once a week, with a spot clean in between), but apart from that… if you’ve ever had a farty dog, or a dog with bad breath, rat smells are like a breath of fresh air!

I love our rats to bits. They never fail to make me smile, several times a day and they seem to listen to me when I talk to them. They also seem to know when I’m feeling sad or anxious, and will let me stroke them for as long as I need. They provide me with a lot of emotional support, bless them. I don’t know what I’d do without them (beg for a dog probably!).

Castiel and Spock



Much love, Faye
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August 15, 2016