What are your initial reactions to the thought of owning a pet rat? If you have never cared for a pet rat, you probably have many misconceptions about them.  Many people think that they are dirty, biters, dumb, and all-around pests! However, any rat owners will instantly tell you these are all very untrue. What you don’t know about them may surprise you!

Let’s start out with some myth-busting about these little critters. First of all, let’s distinguish the rats we are talking about. They are not the same rats found in alley ways and sewer drains. The rats you find in the pet store are completely different. Pet rats have been domesticated. Think of it the same that you think of dogs and wolves!

Cleanliness
Rats are not dirty, nor do they not carry some form of plague. In fact, they are very clean and probably clean themselves more carefully than most cats do! If you keep more than one rat as a pet (which is recommended: rats like company) you will notice a common behavior of bathing each other.

Intelligence
Rats differ from other rodents commonly kept as pets in the intelligence department. They are actually very smart. Unlike hamsters or mice, you can actually train your rat to do simple commands! With a little positive reinforcement with treats, there is really no end to what tricks you can teach your rattie.

Companionship
Rats aren’t the kind of pet to just watch in a cage. Unlike other small animals, they actually enjoy being handled once they learn to trust you and become your friend. They often enjoy riding around in pockets and on your shoulder. Rats can identify you individually and will form bonds with certain people.

Great First Pets
Rats can make great first pets, especially for children over the age of 10. Rats typically have a docile nature and will not bite unless provoked or severely neglected. They are sturdier and larger than hamsters, making them easier to handle for small children and can be very interactive. They are not strictly nocturnal like most other rodents and will become accustomed to your schedule. Like other small animals, their lifespan is typically short averaging 2-3 years.

Despite their many benefits, owning a rat isn’t for everyone. They do, however, fit into a more typical pet category than most people realize. They just have a bad rap from false stereotypes!

Do you or have you owned ever owned a pet rat? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!

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