Do Rats Make Good Pets?



Rats get a lot of bad press, and people generally consider them to be very filthy and disease-laden creatures. But this isn’t the whole truth, because rats are really very gentle and affectionate creatures, and yes, they do make good pets. The main reason why the rats exist is that they are actually quite far down the food chain and tasty food for other species.

Rats are very trainable and intelligent, and domesticated pet rats do not spread diseases like their wild cousins. Here are 5 things you should know about fancy pet rats, especially if you’ve ever considered getting one.


Rats are intelligent and trainable

Rats are emotional creatures, and very fast learners. They are easy to train, so rats have been found to be more intelligent than dogs. It takes only a few weeks to get a rat to learn many tricks and respond to several commands. They can answer to their names and form a very strong emotional bond with their human family. Here is a great resource at to learn more about rats.


Rats groom themselves

Rats are often portrayed as stinky and very dirty creatures, probably because we know that some of them live in stinky places, like in sewage systems. But this isn’t the case with fancy pet rats. Pet rats are very neat and can groom themselves, they actually spend a significant amount of time grooming themselves each day. Rats are also very easy to clean, they enjoy brushing and petting. They also do not need regular baths, regular maintenance will usually involve cleaning the cage frequently and training them to use the litter pan as their toilet. 


Rats are very affectionate

Many people do not know it, but rats are very affectionate creatures. And when kept as pets, they are able to bond with their humans. Rats also have feelings and are able to communicate them. For instance, a happy or content rat will relax their ears, this is equivalent to a smile. Rats can also show emotions like pain or anguish by curling their ears forward, narrowing their eyes or squeezing them shut, these actions are like a ‘rat grimace.’ Rats also like to play with their humans, and they can cuddle. Young rats are especially full of energy to play and stay active for much longer than older rats.

It might be necessary for you to reach out to a trapping company, like Mighty Men Wildlife Trapping, which has the specialty in rats to assist you through any questions.


Rats are low to medium maintenance

Unlike some other pets, rats don’t cost much to maintain and care for. They are not needy and will keep themselves company. Because rats are social animals, it’s always best to keep at least 2 rats in a cage, because keeping only one rat can be detrimental. Rats are very social creatures and need playmates of their kind to stay active and healthy. They can also get lonely and depressed if left alone. With your fancy rats in their cage, you only have to provide enough fresh food and water, toys to play with, regularly clean out the cage, and make sure you protect your fancy pet rats from other pets that can hurt them, especially felines and canines. 


Why rat pets may not be ideal for you

One major downside to having rats as pets is their very short life-span. On average, rats live for 2.5 years, which is so short. However, this can be managed if you continue to introduce new baby rats to the family. 

Also, rats can be expensive. While caring for rats is budget-friendly, the initial setting up of a proper rat cage can be an expensive investment. Think of a rat cage with ropes, nesting area, perches, litter pan, toys, foragers, digging box, a mobile cage for vet visits, etc.

Rats rarely get sick, which is a good point for having them as pets. But there are some diseases that they can transmit to humans, and there are also certain diseases that humans and other animal pets can transmit to rats. If you intend on getting a rat pet, make sure that you seek proper veterinary advice on the best way to care for your rat, and keep them out of danger. 

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