Posted May 10, 2016
Although I only owned my rats for about a year and a half before they died, I still remember my owning experience fondly.
Called "Rex Rats" the rats I had were long (6 inches or 8-9 with tail) and somewhat plump. The Rex Rats I owned were albino lab rats which is why my brother and I named them after the cartoon Pinky and the Brain about two albino lab rats trying to take over the world.
I got a some books from a library when I was younger to read up about rats to understand them a little better and I've picked up some tips along the way that I will add at the end of this review.
After my Skinks died I really wanted a pet I could hold and pet so my parents gave me a trial run pet in the form of Pinky and Brain. At first I thought the rats were just going to be like the Skinks where they sat in their cage all day and the most interesting thing they would do would be eating, but that turned out to be quite untrue. One of the reasons scientists use rats is because they are very intelligent creatures. I'd say their best qualities are they are loyal and even affectionate, one of the downsides to owning a rat is you can become very attached to them and they don't live much longer then two years. However, this two year lifespan might be ideal to some people who just want to try out a pet but aren't ready to commit to a dog or a cat.
Rats are very active and like to move around a lot but you can actually train them to use litter in their cage and then let them roam your house with a litter box in it. This is obviously best if you have a small house and not a lot of hiding spots you might lose them in.
Ironically for the species that supposedly caused the plague, rats are very clean creatures. It's possible to get them to designate one specific area for the bathroom. They might poop and pee around the house if they aren't trained to use one area in their cage or a litter box, but their messes are small in nature.
In general I would give rats four out of five star review, I would give them five stars but for their lifespan.
*As with all pets, replace their water dish at least once a day.
*Buy rat cubes or pellets from the store to feed them and make sure they have a protein content of about 15%.
*Don't feed the rats seed mixes because they will pick out their favorite fatty seeds and leave the nutritious blocks. This will lead to malnutrition or fat fats.
*Try to give them small servings of fresh fruits and veggies like apples, pears, carrots, celery, melons and peas.
*Buying your rats while they are young will make bonding with them easier and might help you get a start on litter training if you want to do that.
*With patience, I've seen people train their rats to sit on their shoulders and stay there even while they walk around, this is a pretty cool trick if you want to scare people.
*Play with your rats, give them as much attention as you would a dog or cat. There's a good reason scientists use them in their studies so you might try playing with them in different ways; Their intelligence might surprise you.
*As much as they might like nuts, peanut butter and candy its not safe to feed them these things because they can easily choke.
*Many rats die of cancer and unspayed females are the most prone to it. Be prepared to either pay for the cost of surgery or ready to euthanize it so it does not live in pain.
*Rats make great pets but they don't last long, so if you want a companion with a long life it's better to go with a dog or cat.