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Rats: Surprisingly Good Pets

September 12th, 2010

rat-pets.jpgRats. Mention them to people and the usual reaction is one of disgust. Rats are commonly associated with garbage, sewers, and disease. Television and movies routinely link these rodents to darkness and depravity. Rats are bad — or are they?

When the truth is told, domesticated rats actually make excellent household pets. They’re intelligent, easily trained, and fairly easy to care for. After centuries of proper breeding, most rats are not generally wild, aggressive, or nervous, which makes them a good pet.

Rats are probably one of the best possible pets for children. Calm and non-aggressive, they can tolerate a fair amount of rough handling and are the least nippy of any small pet. They enjoy human company and can be extremely entertaining and playful. Not many small animals match this kind of criteria for a child’s pet.

These social pets have almost no odor and will grow to be nearly a foot long — with another 7-9 inches for the tail. Unfortunately, the adorable rat has a relatively short life span of 2-3 years.

Inquisitive and playful, rats love to climb. Use a wire cage with horizontal bars for climbing as their habitat and accessorize it with ladders, ropes, hammocks, tunnels, and platforms. Toys designed for ferrets and parrots make good play things, but it’s not necessary to spend a lot of money to entertain these little guys. Cardboard mailing tubes, crumpled paper, paper bags, and cardboard boxes can amuse your pets for hours. Throw in a couple blocks of wood for chewing, and when they get bored with the toys your fingers will become an object of attention and something to wrestle with.

Contrary to the beliefs of some, pet rats can actually be picky eaters and require a well balanced and nutritionally complete diet. Local pet stores will normally carry the pellet and block type diets that rats need. Be careful with the loose mixes because they’re only good if your pet eats everything in the mix. Many rats will pick out their favorite pieces and leave the wholesome stuff alone.

Your pet rats will eat a variety of vegetables, fruits, and other fresh foods. They can also be given cooked liver and other cooked lean meats, cooked beans, and unsweetened breakfast cereals. If they’re given leftovers, do so in moderation and avoid any fatty or sugary scraps.

It is quite common for pet rats to sneeze for a week after they’re brought home. This is a reaction to the stress of being moved and will cease once they’ve become accustomed to their new owner and surroundings. Rats are also sensitive to such things as dust, cold, perfumes, air fresheners, and cigarette smoke; these may cause them to sneeze and become congested.

Pet rats need interaction with people and love the attention given to them by their owners. Give some serious thought to having one of these adorable little creatures as your next pet — you’ll be pleasantly surprised!

This article was supplied by Roger G. from Constant Content.

One Response to “Rats: Surprisingly Good Pets”

  1. comment number 1 by: Ireland5

    One word of caution if we’re talking about children having rats as pets. They reproduce rather easily and frequently (gestation = ~22 days). Unfortunately, the mother rat may tend to eat her babies particularly if she has been under stress or given an unbalanced diet.

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