Don't keep rats as pet !

When my brother decided to travel around the country, he has been forced to leave the white rat he kept as pet ... and I've been forced to adopt this little animal.

Rats as pets quickly become cute, funny, and show a personality that make them even more endearing ... In other words, "la souris" (the mouse), as I renamed it because I was unable to remember the name my bro gave her formerly, quickly found her place in my home and my life.

So, happy end ??

No !

No, because rats pets quickly develop lot of weird diseases :
- dermatitis
- mange
- bumble feet
- cysts
- tumors
- etc
- and various infections and self-injuries because the rat scratches or bites itself because of one or several of the above diseases.

The health and the life of your rat will quickly become a nightmare, and, if like me, you tend to consider your pets like full members of your family, your rat pet will become a great source of worries ... and if you're not cruel, you'll be forced to give an end to its agony. Because that's a real slow and cruel agony.

Most people who adopt a rat as pet seems not to be aware of all the problems this little animal will have, neither how expensive it will be to look after it.
The internet is full of sites dedicated to the diseases of rats pet.

My advice : If you love pets, don't adopt or give a rat as pet !

20080225 update :
Despite what I said, if you still want to adopt a rat, then, you should better document yourself a lot before commitment.
Member Please wrote a tiny instructable about How to take care of a rat the right way. She is a breeder, so you could ask her as much questions as you need.

20080226 update :
She also wrote two other very useful articles :
avoid bad diseases for your pet rat
fun games for your pet rat

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I had a pair of rats around 15 years ago, they were some of the most adorable pets I ever had and they both lived for 4 years. Sadly the first one was euphonised due to a large tumour, the other died unexpectedly shortly after (I can only speculate she lost the will to live without her lifelong companion, effectively dying of a broken heart).

They were highly intelligent and we had lots of fun together, mental stimulation is key to keeping healthy. They spent as much time out of the cage as they did inside it. They'd go all around the house with me, and would come for a ride on my shoulders if I went outside to put the washing out, never had to worry about them running away or getting lost.

If you stuck a finger through the bars of the cage you might get a nip, but if you put your hand through the door you'd always be fine. I'd love to get some more but the present girlfriend is not a fan.

MazR21 year ago

rats have a high morality rate, that's not a reason to call them bad pets, you'll find that they are some of the best pets you can have, I've seen more bites in cats, dogs, ferrets, rabbits, and yes mice, rabbits especially gerbils. Getting sick is something that happens, how many times have you been sick this year alone?

Evra1 year ago

Sorry for a few typos - most notable - "cat" for "cage" - which really changes the meaning! :)

Evra1 year ago

I'm sorry - but I've had pet rats nearly my entire life (40 years) . Having had over 50 pet rats in my lifetime, I've never been bitten once. Even when I accidentlally dropped one then stepped on his tail - they are smart and sensitive, and he despite him squealing, as it obviously hurt, he knew it was an accident. Once, trying to give a new rat "icky"-tasting medicine, she nipped her displeasure - not even close to "a bite."

And I've almost always obtained my ratties from animal shelter - where they sometimes came out of horrific scenarios and/or were not housed properly or treated by a vet at the shelters and so, had mites - which are easily treated before or after they get adopted.

The first 3 disorders you lists are caused by humans neglecting their pets or just not knowing or bothering to learn how to care properly for them. An example is the painful bumblefoot (guinea pigs can get it, as well) - it is not a transmittable disease - it is ALWAYS caused by wire cage floors. I suggest you educate yourself about these lovely domesticated animals before "educating" others The Rat & Mouse Club of America has trustworthy veterinary and other care info. So does "THe Rat Lady" - Debbie Duccommun, author of several books on pet rats - including a medical guide.

Cysts and tumors are not transferable to humans - a cyst, just like in a human, is most often caused by an irritant such as an ingrown hair and can easily be drained A tumor - again, as with humans - could be benign or it could be operable cancer or inoperable cancer.

As with ANY pet, we must be prepared to afford veterinary care, should the need arise

In my experience, pink-eyed whites (albinos) , as well as the fancier (ie dumbo; speciality colours; etc.) tend to be more susceptible to cancer. Do to inbreeding for speciality traits, this can lead to mallocluded teeth - an owner would have to be knowledgable and comfortable tooth-trimming) otherwise all rodents MUST HAVE hard things (such as "rat block") to gnaw, as their teeth grow continuously.

I have found the black and white non-fancy hooded rats to, by far, have the least health problems.

And, yes, like all veterinary treatments and surgeries, it is expensive - one vet referred to it being "micro-surgery" to justify his high pricing; but, if you can find a vet who loves pet rats and is experienced with them - (not all are!) - I've found, the charge is often less than with a vet who is nervous about is due to his/her dislike and/or inexperience with pet rats.

Sometimes, the shelters can help with initial veterinary costs; sometimes the online pet rat community; some vets are open to negotiation.

As with any species, connecting with other fans such as through a magazine like "It's A Rat's World" or Debbie Ducommun's Rat Assistance Teaching Society (R.AT.S) can make things easier

I once encountered a distraught pet rat owner who I was put in touch with by chance encounter - her rats were gnawing their cats "desperately trying to get out" as she put it - but I discovered she had no rat-block nor other hard nuts or wood or anything for the rats to gnaw. If their teeth are allowed to keep growing, they die a horrendously slow, painful death ; she had also housed a young male and female together and "wondered why" they're were babies now ; I am a firm believer, not in getting mad but in helping people such as her be educated. When I read what was written erroneously here, I had to speak up. I hope you know understand - and will hopefully think about pet rats differently.

This sight says to be nice, positive and constructive - telling people "Don't Have Rats As Pets! " with very misinformed reasons why is destructive. Going forward, I hope whoever wrote this and/or read and believed it will be positive and constructive and open their minds to pet rats: wonderful, affectionate, intelligent; super-distinct in their personalities (some are super-socal some more loner-types some jealous some not etc etc etc - just as with dogs not every rat s the right ft for you but as a social species they should never be kept alone.) They are a lot like us!

All the best,


DanielR3601 year ago

I agree. I love rats but they are really prone to illness. After 15 years I decided to give rats another go and got two. So far it has cost $150 for two consultations and medication. Tomorrow I will have to spend another $70 for a specialist consultation and then maybe another 250 for surgery that is if he doesn't have to be euthanised. Both of them have had serious respiratory infections and one has had a second infection leading to necrosis of the tail a lot of pain and suffering and either surgery or euthanasia tomorrow. This is all in just 6 months. You'd think I have bad luck but this is not uncommon for Rats. Because they are so small and cheap a lot of people don't get medical attention and just replace the sick rat. They are also highly intelligent and very sensitive though so I consider that cruel. As amazing and incredible these little guys are if you're the kind of person who takes animal welfare 100% seriously and really loves your rat then sadly they are just too heart breaking to keep. There is a reason why rats breed so prolifically. They are just not evolved to live very long.

Kiteman10 years ago
Rats make excellent pets!

The problem is, they are intelligent - they need stimulation, even if it's just a regular cuddle.

The best option is to get a pair of brothers - being both male and the same age they get on well, and there is no risk of reproduction.

We usually have rats in school - they are friendly, don't get smelly if they cleaned out weekly, and have never suffered from any illnesses other than age. Most rats live two-three years, but our last pair lasted 4 and 5 years respectively.

True, it is sad when they die, but they're only rats - they are easily replaced in both the cage and the heart.

Having said that, I don't have rats at home. I have a pond full of fish and frogs, and I also have a space set aside for a tank of hermit crabs.

I agree with everything you've said except for "True, it is sad when they die, but they're only rats - they are easily replaced in both the cage and the heart." They are not "just" rats, they are members of the family, loved pets and are not easily replaced especially in the heart!!

I guess it depends where you choose to make your emotional investements.

Really??!! If you don't have any intention of having emotional investments in your pets may I suggest, HIGHLY, that you refrain from having any!!

Conversely, may I suggest you take a pause to calm down and read what I wrote? I did not say "do not care about your pets", I said "do not care as much about a small rodent as you would about an actual human being".

Not that it is any of your business, I have had many pets over the years - mice, rabbits, gerbils, guinea pigs, stick insects, giant African land snails, a variety of fish and, yes, a pair of rats. All lived to their fullest, led happy, healthy lives, and died of old age. Yes, I missed them, but I was not heart-broken. I reserve that level of involvement for my family and friends.

We currently have a snake, Elsie, who we expect to have with us for the next 15-20 years. We have invested time, effort and money into her. Our lives are better for her being with us, but if I ever run into another burning building, it won't be to rescue the snake.

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