Acquired: Pet store
New York, United States
Posted Aug 08, 2012
When I worked at Petsmart I took home two fancy rats, both male. One I named Nick, and the other I named Robby. Rats make excellent pets for people who don't mind the long, snaky tail! Many of my friends couldn't get past the tail (which they thought was ugly and gross), to see the wonder of the rat himself. Rats are very, very intelligent. Both of my rats knew their names, and knew several tricks for getting treats. Because of their high intelligence, rats need to be kept busy. They need a large escape-proof cage with lots of toys, and they need to be socialized with humans. Both my of rats enjoyed sitting on my shoulders and being petted and given treats! They can also be litter trained fairly easily. The biggest problem I have with rats is their short lifespan. Even domesticated fancy rats typically only live a few years. Mine lived to be 2 years old and 3 years old. That's not a very long time to have a highly intelligent, sweet pet that you get very attached to :-(
Rats should also be fed fresh fruit and vegetables a few times a week, and given timothy hay every day to aid with digestion in addition to their rat pellet food. Rats should have a tunnel or place to hide in their cage when they want to be left alone. Paper towel tubes are great for this! They also need many wooden chew toys to maintain their dental health. I recommend rats for older children and adults because they can bite and their teeth are very sharp! Male rats can also smell pretty bad and may spray urine outside the cage. My male rats also fought with each other when they were kept in a smaller cage. Rats may also get mites, so you have to check their fur for this regularly. Rats and mice have the impressive ability to flatten their bodies and collapse their bones so they can fit under very small spaces-be aware of this when purchasing a cage! Rats love to explore and their curiosity is wonderful to watch.