Rats aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but these little rodents make great pets. Here are some MythBusters about these critters.
All rats bite
Well, I can’t categorically say that all rats bite, but likewise, they all don’t either. Well socialised rats don’t tend to bite, but if you poke your fingers through the bars, prod them whilst they’re sleeping or have the smell of food on your hands, these little guys can nip!
I love animals – all animals in fact, but I’m not going to lie – rats can smell. However, if you keep them clean, the smell lessens. Male rats do urine mark and some can have more oily coats, and if your male rat is particularly smelly, you could ask your vet about having him neutered which can help reduce the smell. Rats are smart rodents and can be trained to use a litter tray which you can change as often as you like.
Rats carry disease
Although rats can be partially blamed for the black death as they carried the fleas that harboured the disease, you won’t be catching this from pet rats. Infected wild rats can spread leptospirosis in their urine, however, this is rare in the UK. Please keep in mind that the diseases listed here relate to wild rats, and pet rats aren’t to blame.
Rats are dirty
Rats can be dirty, but I wouldn’t say they are dirtier than any other animal. They spend a lot of time grooming and cleaning themselves and each other.
Rats can eat anything
Disney wasn’t lying in their well-known film about a rat enjoying food, as rats love to eat and will try pretty much anything. This doesn’t mean they should eat everything as some things can be bad for them. Check out this blog on safe food for rats to find out what they can and can’t eat.
Rats grow as large as cats
No. No they don’t. A domestic rat weighs under a pound, whereas the average domestic cat weighs around ten pounds.
Rats can live with other rodents
This is a bad idea. Rats should only be housed with other rats after careful introductions. Rats will kill and eat smaller rodents, so although they look similar to mice, they should never, ever, ever be housed with anything other than rats.
Rats don’t make good pets
I’m a little biased as I love rats, but rats aren’t everyone’s ideal pet. If you are looking for an intelligent pet, but can’t commit to a dog, rats are a good substitute. Although I am a hamster fan, personally I find rats more interactive and playful, but they do need very large cages and areas to exercise, so if you are short on space, they may not be the best pet for you. Probably the worst thing about rats is they only live for a couple of years, which is hard as you get so attached to them.