Rats as pets: tips for keeping them
Rats are becoming increasingly popular as pets and rightly so. The intelligent rodents may not be to everyone’s taste, but if it fits, they can enrich every household with their friendly and social nature. Before you buy such a smart one, you should be aware that there is a lot of responsibility associated with the purchase.
Rats love new surroundings. If they are tame, you can also take the rodents outside! – Shutterstock / Darina Matasova
Rats live about two to three years and during this time they need care and attention. If you’re considering getting a pet, be sure you can provide both and do some research on rat ownership beforehand. It’s always a big responsibility to take care of a live animal and pet rats are no exception.
Rats as pets need company
Rats are extremely social and sociable animals that need company and activity. As the owner, you can’t look after the rodents 24/7, so you should always keep them with other rodents. Rats quickly become unhappy when they are bored. The rodents are pack animals and feel most comfortable in a group, it is advisable to keep them in groups of at least three. Larger packs are even nicer for the smart furry friends. Ideally, you buy a group that has already grown up together and consists of females and neutered males – otherwise unwanted offspring can result.
Are Rats the Right Pets for You?
If you are unfamiliar with rats, first visit a rat owner or rats at an animal rescue or shelter to become familiar with the animals. You should check beforehand whether or not you have problems with the rat’s scurrying movements, the long rat tail and the rat’s own smell. In general, it is very important that you find out about keeping rats – ask the breeder, a veterinarian or the rat emergency aid, for example, what is important.
The right rat cage for your rodents
The rat cage must not be smaller than 0.3 square meters per animal. A solid floor, several levels, climbing and playing facilities, feeding and drinking points (such as a feeding bottle), toilet and shelters are also a must. Plastic houses from the pet store or similar products can serve as a nest and hiding place. Line the bottom of the cage with litter – wood shavings from pet shops are suitable. Caution: Never use pine or cedar wood litter as this can produce fumes that are lethal to rats when in contact with urine! Speaking of urine: the omnivores should not contaminate their eating or sleeping places – a rat toilet is therefore important. You can find these in specialist shops in the form of small plastic boxes with an entry hole, for example. Important: Always keep the cage clean – you should remove unclean spots daily and clean the cage completely once a week so as not to endanger the health of your fur friends.
Keep rats busy: toys, spout, tricks and more.
Toys for rats abound. For example, the rodents are happy about most cat toys, toilet paper rolls, climbing opportunities and cage elements such as hammocks or branches. Put several toys in the rat cage and exercise enclosure and make sure that your furry friends can keep them busy around the clock. Such a little clever one builds up a very close relationship with his heart person when kept in a species-appropriate manner. Therefore, you should play with your pets several times a day. You can see how cuddly the rascals can be in this video:
Basically, you should allow your rats to run around every day – the cage is usually too small for the snuggly snouts who like to move around. You should make sure that your home is rat-proof if you don’t keep the rodents in an enclosure. In particular, cables, poisonous plants and valuable objects should be safe from the incisors. By the way: Rats are extremely intelligent animals that you can also teach tricks to. Everything is possible, from giving paws and making little figures to hoop jumping. However, you should never punish your rat – the animals do not understand this and react fearfully, confused or aggressively. When your long tail does something right, give it a treat.
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