If you’re looking for a new furry companion, fancy rats can be a great choice. They’re cute, friendly, and easy to handle with enough patience and socialization.
However, if you’re thinking of diving into rat ownership, here is some information you should consider before bringing your new friend home.
Why Choose a Pet Fancy Rat?
Rats are smart creatures. With enough patience, you can teach your pet rat to recognize their name and fun tricks like ball dunking, stand up, and spin in a circle.
They are full of personality, can be entertaining to watch and interact with, and are usually less likely to bite than other pocket-sized pets.
There are different varieties of fancy rats resulting in an assortment of colors, patterns, fur lengths, and even ear shapes that are far different from their undomesticated counterparts.
Despite what you might have been told, rats are clean animals and rarely transmit diseases.
8. Lifespan – How Long do Fancy Rats Live?
Rats typically live to 2-4 years of age.
This is considerably shorter than the lifespan of a cat or dog. While it isn’t easy to lose a pet, this short lifespan might be ideal if you aren’t sure about your long-term plans.
On the other hand, are you going to be ready to say goodbye to your little friend so quickly?
This is something you really want to think about, especially if you have young children at home who might find it difficult to lose their beloved pet so soon.
7. Financial Obligation – How Much do Rats Cost?
Depending on where you live, the price of a single rat is relatively inexpensive.
Don’t be fooled though, the costs will quickly add up once you factor in everything you need…
- Cage ($30 – $220)
- Nedding ($4.49 – $22.99)
- High-quality rat formulated food ($10.62)
- Water bottle and food bowl ($5)
- Toys ($ varies)
- Hideout ($5.68 – $13.99)
(Prices via PetSmart, and will vary depending on where you buy your pet supplies from.)
You will also want to set aside some savings for veterinary care because rats are prone to certain illnesses and are usually considered to be exotic pets requiring specialized treatment.
6. Can You Take on Two (or More) Rats?
Rats are very social animals and will live happier and healthier lives when housed with a friend of the same sex.
This type of companionship cannot be replaced with large amounts of human interaction so if you can’t commit to at least two rats, it would be best to choose a pet that prefers living in solitude.
If you are worried about the additional work a second rat would add – don’t. Two rats are just as easy to care for if not easier because they will be able to socialize and play together during times when you’re busy or away from home.
5. Do You Have Time?
Rats might seem like low maintenance pets, but that isn’t completely true.
While you won’t have to commit to walking them two-three times a day, you should ideally plan to socialize with your rats for around an hour a day.
This includes giving them time to run around in a rat-proofed area of your house so they can burn off energy and fulfill their intrinsic desire to explore.
Rats are friendly and usually enjoy human interaction. However, your rats won’t get comfortable with you if you don’t put the effort into handling them daily.
You will also want to set aside time to tidy their cage daily and do a thorough cleaning once a week. Depending on the size of your cage and how many rats you have, this usually takes around 30-45 minutes.
4. Rat Health Considerations
As mentioned earlier, rats are prone to certain ailments. This includes Upper Respiratory Illnesses (URI), mites, and tumors.
Depending on where you purchase your rats (pet store vs. reputable breeder), they might be more susceptible than others. All these conditions will require veterinary care and vary in cost depending on where you live and the level of care required.
Tumors can be benign or malignant and may require surgery.
The likelihood of a tumor developing can be lowered if you get your rat fixed but this can be a pricy procedure. As it is best to keep rats in groups, these costs can multiple quickly.
3. Do You Have Children?
Rats can be a great pet to have around children. They can help teach responsibility and social skills while being a great friend to your child.
However, they are also fragile animals so special consideration should be given if your child is on the younger side.
Serious injury or death can occur by mishandling a rat or by pulling on its tail. Until your child is old enough to handle a rat on their own, they should be supervised during free play, and the rats should be kept somewhere that you can keep an eye on them.
2. Rats are Nocturnal
Unless you’re a night owl, you’ll probably find that you and your little buddies have a different schedule.
Rats tend to sleep most of the day and are most active at night. For this reason, you will probably want to keep the cage out of your bedroom to avoid being kept awake at night while they play.
Don’t worry about their nocturnal nature getting in the way of spending time with your rats. They will happily hang out with you and will get enough sleep during the periods of time where you’re occupied with other tasks or out of the house.
1. Do You Have Other Pets?
If you have other pets at home, it’s important to think about how you will keep the rats safe from potential harm. Cats and dogs are all predators when it comes to your rats and it’s not easy to predict how they’ll react to their new rodent friends.
Sometimes, they won’t be bothered by their presence and other times, their intrinsic desire to hunt might want to take over.
It is recommended to have your rat cage in a room that is inaccessible to your other pets.
If this isn’t possible, keep the cage where you’re best able to keep an eye on it and never leave your rats out of their cage unsupervised.