Pet rats are truly domesticated animals that have been selectively bred in captivity for hundreds of generations. They have been bred to be gentle and affectionate. Domestic rats are as different from wild rats as dogs are from wolves. They rarely bite and stay clean by grooming themselves like a cat several times a day.
| Rats are extremely social and personable animals that bond strongly to their owners. They are smart enough to learn their names and will come when you call them. They beg to come out of their cage to play and interact with their owners.
Rats love to be petted. They enjoy being rubbed behind their ears or scratched on their shoulders. Some rats will roll over on their back so their owner can rub their tummy. Many rats will lick their owners to show affection just like a dog.
Rats are very playful and will wrestle with your hand the same way a kitten will. Rats will play games with their owners, including tug-o' war, hide-n-seek, and peek-a-boo.
Rats can learn many tricks just like dogs. They can learn to sit up, fetch, walk a tightrope, pull up a basket on a string and jump through a hoop. Some rats are smart enough to learn a trick after only two lessons!
Each rat is an individual with his or her own personality. Some rats are very intelligent (more intelligent than most dogs and cats!) but some rats aren't so smart, just like some other cats and dogs (and people.) But even these bumbling blockhead rats are affectionate and make adorable loving pets.
Rats make great pets for both children and adults. Because they are nocturnal animals, they are happy to sleep during the day while their owner is at work or school. Then they are ready to come out to play in the morning or evening. They are especially good pets for apartment dwellers with limited space, and busy people, as long as you can spend at least 1/2 to 1 hour a day with your rats.
Here are some unsolicited comments made by adult (and a few teen) rat owners:
I had a friend back at my first university with a solo rat, Bailey. That was my first introduction to rats. Bailey was a delightful little girl. She had her own little hammocks all over the dorm, and charmed anyone she met in 10 seconds flat. She is unfortunately with the big fruit basket in the sky now.
My boyfriend has always been very pro-rat, though never owning any of his own. We got 4 little girls for the price of 2 (they were just about to turn 5 weeks, and needed to be separated from all their male roomies, and they were the last 4.) We got Sandy (Himalayan with ruby eyes, the adventurer), Petals (single rex hooded dumbo, the defender of the cage), Thelma (slate-gray Berkey, the mommy figure), and Louise (Thelma's littermate, momma's girl, and the ambassador for all ratkind). Thelma and Louise were littermates born to be eaten by some snake somewhere, but were saved by a pet store employee due to their excellent temperament (and excellent temperament they have!) Then along came Pepper, our blind double-rex, who is about a month younger than the others. She still gets around great despite her "disability", and follows the other girls like they're her guide-rats. Pepper really brought out the maternal tendencies of the other four (especially Thelma). It seems like every time I look over, some rat is cleaning her.
ANYWAYS. They're all perfect angels, and make the cats look bad with how well-behaved they are. We have had really minor incidents with the cats (Dex really could care less about their existence; Linus got a tiny bit of his ear, that healed very well, taken as a trophy by Petals), but the rats have held their own extremely well. They get along great with my mom's poodle, and are generally accepting and docile around all other animals, unless threatened. They've each been manhandled by children quite a few times, and have yet to bite out of fear or anger. Every once in a while they'll nibble a finger just to make sure it's not a treat, then give little rat kisses to make up for the transgression. They make excellent apartment pets, and great first pets for kids. I've given thought to allowing one of mine to become a mommy (not Pepper, of course), and all the potential babies have dibs on them.
A fairly unique thing about mine is that I'm currently looking for a drug rehabilitation facility to bring them regularly, as therapy animals. They are excellent at forcing people to look at their actions from another, tiny point of view, and evaluate how these actions will be received. I brought two of my girls to my mom's house for the first time just after my sister had left inpatient rehabilitation. The way the rats brightened her up and took to her was amazing. She's now their favorite person to nap on.
- Becca, 22, Austin, TX, May 24, 2013
My whole life all I've been interested in is critters. Our family has of course had dogs and cats and horses but I was always the one bringing home the seemingly odd animals. When I was ten my mother and I went into a pet shop that was closing down. Looking around I discovered a cage full of black and white hooded rats. Curiously I stuck my hand down into the aquarium and up my arm crawled my new little buddy. I put him back to go tell my mom and when she came to look the same little rat chose me again and crawled right on up. Intrigued, my mother talked to the pet shop owner awhile and came back to tell me that she must be crazy and allowed me to keep him. He changed my life and opened my eyes to the degenerate ignorance of judgement and profiling. Sadly, Cheddar was only in my life for four months because we found it very hard to care for him because of my parents' divorce and switching households weekly. Without telling me my mom found another home for him one day while I was at school...never to be forgotten though.
Today my boyfriend that I live with and are the proud owners of two rats, Joey and Winston. Joey is an organizer and cuddler, while the younger Winston is messy and playful. They make a great pair and they brighten my life everyday. Plus, nothing compares to hearing your macho boyfriend talk baby-talk to two little rats. It just goes to show that you should never judge a book by its cover and you should never underestimate the love between animals and humans.
- Nicole Smith, Michigan, 19 yrs old, April 13, 2013
I was first exposed to rats in grade school, when I met my friend's rat. It wasn't long until myself and my sister were convinced that rats were incredibly awesome little critters and got our first few rats just a couple years later during my sophomore year of high school. Mom didn't know, since my sister had her own place. But after she got to know Mischief, and learned first-hand that rats weren't all that the movies and popular culture made them out to be that she herself got a rat! I'm six years out of high school now, and have perpetually had a rat in my life ever since getting Mischief. There's been Trouble, Rascal, Scamp, Aiko, Minnie, Cassidy, Tina, Mocha, and Scabbers. Right now I have Latte, and three very special little rats.
About six months ago I got the opportunity to adopt three week-old babies out of the wild, and bottle-fed them and decided to keep them because they kept following me! Now they're named Cappa and Chino, the boys, and Honey, their sister. Over the years I've allowed the various personalities of my rats to become advocates in my local area for just how great of pets they are. My lovelies even convinced my boyfriend and his family, who'd had less than positive experiences prior, that they're sweet and lovable. The 'Three Mouse-keteers', as I've laughingly dubbed my wild trio, have won over even the most hardy rat-a-phobes with their story and how they see me as Momma and like to wrestle and go everywhere with me.
- Katie Dean, Eureka, CA; November 12, 2012
My father used to live with me. He was terminally ill with Parkinsons, Alzheimers and later cancer. I got a pet rat for my foster son, who had been abused for the first 6 years of his life. The rat warmed up to both my "men" and them to him. Rattie grew very close to my father and loved sitting with him all the time.
When Rattie got old and need to be euthanize, the vet immediately wrote out a "prescription" for another rat for my father to be filled at the pet shop across the road. This rat was even closer to my father. My father had to go into hospital for a short while and pined after his little friend so much that the doctors had us bring him for visiting. I think it was the first time a rat was actually welcomed at a hospital. It all had to be done on the quiet though. That was when my father started recovering enough to go home again.
The new rat, Rattie Jr., was only about a year old when my father passed away. He stopped eating and just lay in his cage. He didn’t want to play anymore either. Two weeks later to the day, Rattie Jr. joined my father. That was two years ago and I still get tears in my eyes.
My foster son is now my son and at age 13 doing so much better. He still loves rats with a passion and has developed a deep love for all animals, thanks to his wonderful introduction to Rattie.
- Tracy, South Africa
My family has been rat owners for four generations. My 94 year old grandmother is in the advanced stages of elderly dementia. She doesn’t talk much, do much, or even know who I am. Put a rat on her, and oh boy, her whole demeanor instantly changes: She lights up, she giggles, and she carries on and on about everything the rat is doing. It’s the only thing that anybody has found that can improve her mood.
- R. Toby Richards, Network Administrator, Superior Court of California, County of San Luis Obispo, December 2010
I think I discovered rats as pets in the early 1990’s when I worked at a pet store in Texas. In the mid/late 90’s I was going to college and lived in an apartment so I couldn’t have larger pets. I have had 13 or 14 rats over the course of time, and probably always will. Right now my little girl Ruby…the “roobster” is very ill and will surely pass soon…I’m in tears as I write this…she has been SUCH a great pet. Sweet, Smart and way more obedient then my dog. My heart is breaking. I know their little life spans aren’t very long and that truly is the hardest part of having them as pets, but she’s not even 2. She is going to be dearly missed.
- Jayne B, Menifee, CA; December 2009
I fell in love with my first rattie by accident. A local pet shop was selling babies for reptile food. Fortunately the store owner noticed that my little girl had an exceptional personality and saved her. I was wandering the store one day and happened to pick her up - she crawled up my sleeve into my pocket and my heart. She was with me for 2 very happy years.
I recently married and my husband and I wanted an animal addition to our family. After much talking I finally convinced him that a rat was the way to go. He still had many many doubts. I'm glad to say that after living with our "Sugar" for about 3 months my husband suggested we get her a companion. He admitted how much they surprised him by their intelligence, gentleness, affection, inquisitive nature, athleticism, and humor. Our girls come when we call them by name. They love nothing more than to cuddle with us in the evening and welcome us when we get home from work.
I hope this site can change the minds of many and will help open hearts and minds to the wonderful world of companion rats. I am melted by their sweet faces, loving eyes, wiggly whiskers, and tiny precious hands.
- Leslie, Nashville, TN; October 2009
Mimu was an unexpected addition to my family. About one year ago, some unfortunate soul decided that they couldn't take proper care of her and left her on my mothers doorstep, cage and all. Since my mom is not very fond of rodents, she asked me to care for her, and being the animal lover that I am, I gladly accepted.
It was a little rough in the beginning, because she had not been properly socialized, but after a month or so she started trusting that I wouldn't eat her, and she warmed up to me. She is now the most wonderful pet ever, she is smart, cute, and extremely affectionate! Her favorite things to do are sprawling across the back of my neck and falling asleep, and gathering food for her stash from far away places.
- Gina C., Bellingham, WA; July 2008
I have had pet rats since I was 12 years old and am now 26. I bred them for several years and can say that was the most rewarding time of my life. Not to mention the mice I bred at 12. About 3 years ago I lost my rats due to a landlord having second thoughts about them in the complex and after 2 years of worrying my new landlord I can finally have one. Though I am an animal lover I have not always been a dog person but a rat is a good alternative due to the often intelligent, loyal and goofy nature of these animals. I will forever be a rat person.
- Melanie, Tennessee; May 2008
I acquired my babies not too long ago when my friend bought a baby girl rat from a low-quality petstore; lo and behold, she was preggers! My friend offered me any number of the babies, but I declined as I was living in a college dorm and was dealing with a lot of emotional issues. Then I remembered a paper I had written years back on the topic of therapy animals and how taking care of pets can positively affect the lives of depression patients and whatnot. So, I gave in.
I visited my friend and her brood and fell in love with the three boys of the litter. There was no way I could have said no to having them! For a brief while, Cow, Tickleskin, and Pasta lived secretly in my no-animals-allowed dorm room. Now that I'm back in a house, I can't imagine life without them. They have honestly been a life-saver. It makes me sad when people hear the word 'rat' and immediately respond with crinkled noses and remarks about how disease-ridden they are, or how ugly their tails are (I can't understand that!) If only people would open their eyes and their minds they would see how wonderful these beautiful animals are! I don't know where I'd be without my beautiful baby boys!
- Gregory P., Millbury MA; April 2008
I grew up around animals. When I was a kid we used to raise rabbits and we had over 250 at one time. I have had 100 box turtles at one time because my dog saw me playing with my pet turtle Rosey-Pete, and he started bringing me turtles every day! We used to have turtle races at school courtesy of my dog! I have had dogs, cats, hamsters, fish, chickens, ducks, hermit crabs, guinea pigs and a couple of hedgehogs. My husband even had a pet coon as well as a pet ferret.
Our rats have captured our hearts. I can't imagine not having some ratties around the rest of my life. They have such a relaxing effect on me, it is like they just take the stress of life away. Both of our girls love to snuggle under our hair at the nape of our neck. This is especially fun to watch when Clementine (my husband's rat) gets all 'wrapped' up in my husband's curly hair. They are so much fun to watch. I felt silly at first, I mean a 48-year-old woman carrying her pet rat around with her did seem a bit odd. Surprisingly most people seem to be quite receptive to my girl Miriam.
- Helen V., Park Hills, MO; March 2008
I grew up with pet guinea pigs, dogs, cats and an assortment of hamsters, mice and gerbils. When I had children of my own I wanted them to have pets also. We lived in a small space and even though my daughter wanted a dog and I was pushing for a guinea pig my husband felt that there must be something better. He did some research and decided that we needed rats. After meeting the babies both my daughter and I were won over. Our two female rats were so sweet, gentle and not to mention patient. I now have four children ranging in age from 7 to 1 and we have two female rats Estrella and Espada. I tell everyone I know to get their children pet rats. Of course the rats will end up stealing the hearts of the parents. Our two rats belong to me. But they are very patient and even playful with all my children(even the one-year-old). I never have to worry that the rats will hurt the children. I love rats and I intend to have them as long as I am able to care for pets.
- D. Eisley; March 2008
I am a Humane Educator and one of the animals we take into the classroom is rats. It is so fun to watch the kids squirm in the beginning and then see how much they enjoy the rats by the end. The rats sell themselves when they sit on my shoulder and give me kisses. I let kids know that they are great as pets because they really like being with their humans. Compared to the guinea pigs we take to classes, the rats have MUCH more personality and charm. Not to mention how much cleaner they are. I would encourage any parent to get a rat over a hamster or guinea pig anytime.
- Shawna Martin, Indio, CA; Feb. 2006
Four years ago I started with one rat. Then I bought another one a couple months later. The second one is still here with me now and I have another that had 12 babies with two that I kept. Then, yesterday I just bought another one. I love these animals with all my heart. Everyone says I'm crazy but I don't think I could live without them here with me!
- Stephanie Chacos, Arnold, MD; August 2006
It was love at first sight when I saw this little sweet white baby rat. I went to the pet shop for guinea pig food and I came home with my best friend Precious. She is so smart already; she knows her name and throws her ball in her cage. It is so amazing how smart rats are. I just love my little Precious.
- MaryEllen P. , New York; Jan. 2006
I've had 14 rats in my lifetime (I'm only 20, so that's a lot of rats!) and I have loved each and every single one of them. Rats are such great pets because they are smart, funny, loving, and completely devoted to you!! My rats know me by sight, smell, and sound, and are always clinging to the cages waiting for me to take them out and cover them with kisses. Each one has unique characteristics, no two rats, even if they look very similar, are every alike!
"Every time I think about my 'babies' I get a smile on my face. They can literally brighten any day with their sparkling personalities. Every time I tell people I have rats, they all cringe with disgust...but those who have met my babies have fallen head over heels in love! I cannot imagine my life without my ratties, and even though it breaks my heart when one of them leaves this world, I know that I have been blessed to have known that rat and to have been given the honor of loving it and giving it the wonderful life it deserves! When I start to talk about my babies, I cannot make myself stop because they are constantly doing new, amazing things to please and entertain you. I sport my rat love with pride, and know that those who think rats are 'gross' are really missing out on one of the best friends a person could ever ask for!
- Ashley Hatheway, Sacramento, CA; March 2006
I just got my first rat about 2 months ago. I, too, have had many pets throughout my life, but I must admit I am bowled over by my girl, Lucky. She is without a doubt the kindest, smartest and most affectionate animal friend I have ever had. I just got her a playmate, Balzy. Balzy is not quite the genius Lucky is, but makes up for it easily with her funny antics and her licks on my face. I love my girls, and am so happy I have them!
- Janie-Lynne Osborne-Polacek, Bradenton, FL; March 2006
I grew up on a game farm near Chingola, Northern Rhodesia (now Zambia), close to the Belgian Congo. My father was a big game hunter who spent months in the forests. Needless to say, I had every small animal imaginable as a pet. Where other little girls carried their dolls in their prams, mine always had my pet duiker, Cora.
Today I'm a 52-year old woman living in a apartment in Pretoria, South Africa. I got my first pet rat 15 years ago. I had to 'baby-sit' my sister's son pet rat when they went to the Kruger National Park for three weeks. Needless to say, when my sister's son wanted his pet rat back, I would have none of it. I convinced him that his pet rat was spoiled rotten now, and that he was dearly attached to "Auntie Rina" now. Martin (my sister's son) grumbled a bit, but decided to hand over his pet rat (as if he had a choice - smile).
Since then, I had countless rats. They are simply the most cutest, lovable, smartest little angels imaginable. I love them to bits. They are like a drug. Once you had them ... you simply can never live without them!
- Rina van Coller, Pretoria, South Africa; March, 2006
I first got 2 female rats, Platter and Mousey. Then Platter had a litter of 8 kittens 1 week after we got her. We kept the 2 females and named them Toffee and Rocky. Then we acquired 2 more females from a friend who was allergic and named them Sonic and Ash. Not long after this we were asked if we would take a male who needed a home, we did. He’s a big bear of a rat, and so we called him Bear. We then got 3 more males, Bruno, Brody and Baby. What can I say, they are the best pets you could ask for, so loving and affectionate. We live in a flat so they are perfect. We will have pet rats for the rest of our lives, and I don’t know what I did before we had them. My life is complete.
- Joanne, England; June, 2006
My rat Boots is THE BEST pet ever. I love him very much. His favorite pastime is curling up in my lap to sleep.
- Ginnie P, TX
I bought two rats for my partner's birthday, Tinkerbell and Travel Tarcy. I was dead against them, but after a while I grew to love them. We now have added 2 more: Tess (who was anti-social) and Terri. Our lives have changed; when we come home they are waiting for us and when we wake up they are eager to get our attention. Rats make the perfect pets.
- D. Williams, Plymouth, Devon, United Kingdom
When I saw the 'mouse' on my son's desk, I told him he had to return her. My son, (16), with tears in his eyes, said he already had her for 2 weeks, and that he had been taking care of her. Well, I realized he had, and reluctantly changed my mind. Mousie is actually a rat, and you guessed it, she is my cutie. So is Little Girl, the companion I insisted we get for her.
I would spend more time telling you how intelligent these two are, and how they stole my heart, but I am busy right now looking at new cages and toys for them. Oh, and I need to go out and get them fresh fruit and salad, because they are out. Oh, yeah, and they ate up all their teething biscuits, so they need more. And..... well, if you keep ratties, you know!
- Jane Paquette, Las Vegas, NV
Our home was an 'animal shelter' when I was younger. We rehabilitated a hawk, a mockingbird, baby ducks, a fox, baby chicks, a squirrel, numerous cats, a couple dogs, and countless litters of opossums...so I have grown up with a love of animals. I always had a special love for the opossums because they were so darn cute. Same thing with rats! Rats are always happy to see you (especially when you have food)! I have 3 of my own, Sandy White Beans, Moon Pie, and Charlotte. Our dog likes them too...but sometimes the rats take her toys! They make my day and I love them with all my heart!!!
- Amy Jones, Baton Rouge, LA
After years of hamsters, mice, rabbits, dogs, cats, fish, frogs, etc., I brought home a "fancy rat" for my 12 year old son. Immediately, our family fell head over heals for this precious, dark grey, loving creature! She is the most affectionate, playful, SMART, and darling little critter we have ever had. We will have pet rats forever after the privilege of having Sweetie join our family. She has NEVER even attempted to bite any of us. She loves us to hand feed her treats and nap on our shoulders. I would highly recommend a pet rat to anyone thinking about it. You won't be sorry. They are wonderful companions.
- Heather King, Red Bluff, CA
I never truly thought about having rats as pets until last year. My oldest daughter has asthma so we aren't able to have larger animals in the house. An online friend suggested rats because of their mild temperament. I made the decision to purchase a pair. From the day I brought them home, I was in love. They are so sweet and so intelligent. Their names are Abby and Zoey and are my little babies. I will forever be a rat person. They are truly amazing pets/friends.
- Jill V., Oklahoma City, OK
One day I was in the pet store getting food for my hamsters, when I saw a book about pet rats. Now, 7 months later, I have had 2 adorable rats for about 6 months. I love them dearly, and even after so long, I'm amazed how smart and loving they are. Ben and Nutmeg are my favorite pets I have ever had even though I have had: 5 cats, 6 hamsters, lots of fish, 3 bearded dragons, 2 hermit crabs, and lots of frogs. I won't be able to love any other small pet as much for as long as I live (and I'm only 13!)
- Becky Charles, Sterling, VA
I am a cat person, but I also have had the pleasure of living with a male rat for about eight months. He is smart, sweet, affectionate, playful, etc. I love him dearly. My cat is very curious and a bit jealous, but he tolerates Yod fairly well.
- Gina Wimer, Charlottesville, VA
I had a pet rat when I was about seven to ten years old. We now have Misty. My husband and I had a rhesus monkey from 1961 to 1975 and a snow monkey from 1975 to 1991. We got a guinea pig...and after a while I talked my husband into a rat. He is perfectly silly over Misty. 'I never would have believed a rat was so smart. She's the best pet we've ever had.' This is what he says about Misty. This is a perfect pet for older people (we are 73) as she is easy to care for and fun for us.
- June P., Fountain Valley, CA
I have only owned one rat so far in my lifetime but have found her to be one of the best pets I have ever had. I am, of all things, a zookeeper....a number of my fellow zookeepers also have rats as pets and are as enthusiastic as I about what wonderful pets they make.
- Kathy L. Wood, Watertown, MA
I was so glad to see the article [about The Rat Fan Club] in the [newspaper]. I was beginning to feel strange - a 42-year-old woman in love with two sweet, cute, silly rats. Everyone I know must endure the latest tales of my little guys' follies. My two teenaged kids are embarrassed by me when I try to convince non-believers that rats are totally lovable and loving.
- Mary Beth Broderson, Monterey, CA
I'm a city dweller who shares his one room efficiency with a six-month old rat. My rat's name is Sherlock and I've found him to be a great pet. Most of my friends and acquaintances who have met Sherlock have responded positively, though at first they thought...ugh!
- Richard W. Nason, Boston, MA
I'm one who really enjoys the company of my pet rat, Puddin. If someone would have told me three years ago I'd have a pet rat, I would have cringed and said they were crazy. My husband and I have no children, but have always had dogs. Well, our apartment is too small for a dog and we both work. So, a rat is - The Perfect Pet!
- Cindie Virden, Gardiner, ME
My husband and I never thought we wanted rats but two years ago a friend who worked in a pet store introduced us to two rats that needed a home. We were amazed at how affectionate, personable and obviously intelligent they were. Since then there have been seven other rats in our family.
- Margaret Field, Aurora, IL
I got my first two rats only a year and a half ago and now I have five. A true animal lover, I've had dogs and small pets like hamsters, mice, birds, fish, salamanders and such; but as far as smaller pets go, rats are the most worthwhile. I'm not entirely sure what it is about these creatures which has made me such a fan, but I know that I will have rats as pets throughout my life. The only other animal I can say that about is dogs.
- L. Burton, Carmichael, CA
I'm 42 years old, married and we have a son, Christopher who will be three. My girl rat Timmy has had a new friend for 6 months now. The new girl is sweet, very affectionate and loves to be played with. I find myself staying up after my husband and little boy go to bed - sometimes I'll play games with the rats for one to two hours.
- Sarah Snyder, Palo Alto, CA
I've had just about every pet imaginable at sometime or another - birds, hamsters, ferrets, snakes, cats, etc. But shortly after bringing the little rats home I fell completely in love with them. I was amazed how special, personable, "right there with you" they were. I never encountered a rodent who reminded me so much, with their presence, of an intelligent cat or dog. Actually, I'm convinced my rat Isabel was smarter than the average cat or dog.
- A. Newkirk, Chicago, IL
[Our rat] Crusty, I must admit, has turned out to be the best pet we ever had. This is even despite my early hesitations. She's a part of the family now!
- Cindy Tuttle, W. Sacramento, CA
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