With Hallowe’en in full swing it is time to explore one of the “creepies” of Hallowe’en as a pet.
Today we will be exploring “rats” as pets!
People have huge misconcenptions about rats and some people just plain don’t like them. Sometimes it’s because of the idea that rats carry diseases, or that they’re “ugly” or just creepy looking (largely because of the naked tail). Despite these misconceptions of rats been disgusting or disease ridden, rats are surprisingly one of the best rodents to have as pets–especially if one has children.
Rats are social (usually) nocturnal rodents with an impressive mind capable of solving puzzles and using their brain power to solve the everyday issues they may encountered. It is largely because of their social behavior that they make excellent pets and are more accepting then some rodent species such as hamsters or even gerbils.
Capable of living up 3 years (sometimes more), rats can grow up to 11 inches. Rats are largely nocturnal animals, meaning they spend most of their time been active during the night. However, many are still quite active during the day. Similar to deers, male rats are known as “bucks” and female rats are known as “does” with their babies known primarily as “pups” though you may find them also been called “kittens.”
Rats are surprisingly clean animals, spending hours throughout the day grooming themselves.
What has made rats incredibly popular pets as of lately is largely because of their social natures, making them quite affectionate towards their family. Rats also happen to come in a variety of colours and marks, making each rat uniquely themselves. Since they are quite social by nature, rats are also considerably easier to tame then some other rodent species.
However, also because of their quite social natures they require a good amount of attention and social interaction. For this reason we here at the Urban Zoo always advise that rats should be paired up with a friend or mate. Females and females, males and males, and female and males can all go together. Unlike birds, however, having multiple rats in the same enclosure does not necessarily mean more work to tame.
Due to their curious natures it is important to understand that if you are going to take our your rat and interact with them outside of the enclosure, one should always keep an eye on them as they have a tendency of getting into things they should not. Since they are rodents, they also have a constant need to chew considering their teeth (similar to our nails) continuously grow. It’s always a good idea to have healthy treats and toys they can work with and play with to help curve their chewing needs and providing a safe, healthy, items to ingest.
As a rule, male rats tend to be larger and lazier than females, and have coarser coats.
Rats due to their energetic natures require a decent size cage. The wires should not be flimsy (as they can easily escape) or heavily spaced apart, and the floor of the cage should be stirdy and solid. Rats are intelligent so you want to be sure that your cage has a good locking mechanism.
When it comes to the bedding for rats, usually you want to avoid bedding of the softwood variety (though some may use an aspin shaving). One of our prefered bedding for rats and rodents alike is the CAREFRESH products. The CAREFRESH products come in a variety of sizes and colours (perfect for children who have favorite colours!), it expands from the original size upon opening, and most importantly it is safe to digest if for whatever reasons your rat decides to eat it.
CAREFRESH is also highly absorbant, perfect for urine and also feces and it also has a natural odour reduce and neutralizer which can help with the cleaning and also the smell.
Talking about smells, rats aren’t particularly “smelly” they should, like all animals kept in enclosures, be spot cleaned once a day, and stripped cleaned once a week. It’s also important to understanding that defication and urination is a form of language for rats, especially among male rats. In many ways, it can leave a scent trail (so they can find their way back to the nest) or ways of indentification of one another.
Rats thrive to explore, due to their curious and adventurous nature. Giving them healthy explorative and adventure measures are always important. Just be sure to watch them as they move about, this is particularly important if one is allowing the rats to explore outside of their cages. There are many appropriate toys and enclosure add-ons that are wondeful for this explorative and curious adventuring of rats. An exercise wheel (make sure it’s large enough to accommodate the tail) is always a welcome addition to an enclosure.
When it comes to feeding, like people, rats require a balanced diet. There are many varieties of rat foods on the market that can be helpful, EXTRUSION is personally one of our favorites due to the size of the pellets (perfect for their teeth!), the general healthiness of the food itself and the addition of Vitamin C that is present within the food formula.
Overall, rats are amazing pets with their curious and adventurious natures. They are natural clowns loving nothing more then to make you laugh. With their affectionate and social personalities they are truly one underated pet to have!
Rats are one of the most affectionate rodents