Do You Have a Rat as a Pet?

Updated on June 12, 2011
S.J. asks from Midland, MI
19 answers

If so do you find it to be a lot of work? Do you find it to be a good pet for young children 6 and under? We have thought about this a lot and know that we cannot/do not want to get a cat or a dog. We have done fish but just are not that fun for children or adult's LOL. We think that having a Rat or a couple of the 3-4" max length rats would be a good choice but want to hear the good/bad about it. also I think that a hamster is to "squishy" for young children so I don't think we will do that. How much do you spend roughly a month on a rat? Do you have your rat in a guinea pig cage? or a different type of cage? Please any help would be apreciated before we start this adventure!!

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answers from Topeka on

I would never have a rat as a pet,the 1 gold fish we had just died the other day after we've had it for a year that was good enough for "me"us.My sil does have rodents including 1 mouse that the snake refused to eat for dinner.Her home is filled with a huge fish tank,3 cages of rodents they love them.When her youngest was about 2 she held the guiena pig wrong by the neck & well that was the end of that pet.Good Luck

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Honolulu on

What about a Guinea Pig?

Ask the pet store about it.
And see at the store, how much food and litter costs and the cage.
Look at the prices for all the food and supplies and cleaning the cage, etc.
Before choosing a pet.

I believe, Rats are bigger/longer than 3-4" max.

Kids 6 and under, will not always be 'gentle' with a pet, nor careful.
So bear that in mind.
And they won't clean the cage either. Too young to do it perfectly.

2 moms found this helpful

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answers from Cleveland on

I have had over 6 rats as pets, and I highly recommend them for young children as an alternative to dogs! They are friendly, social, and incredibly smart animals. The drawbacks for me personally were allergies, and having to clean the cages very often. I would recommend a larger cage...the size used for a guinea pig is good. The bedding used can create alot of dust, and needs to be changed often.
The real drawback for me was their lifespan. They are prone to tumors and other maladies, and tend not to live that long. I would get very attached to my little ratties, and having to loose them after two years just got to be too much for me :(

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Seattle on

This is a fun one :) I actually used to own one & ended up with a breeding pair (only because my mom worked at a pet store) & the babies were also SO much fun to watch them play together. What I had was actually called a blue rat they are a greyish color but unlike the common gross rat that ppl think of they actually have hair on their tails & they are not sold as feeders rats to snakes etc ... I really enjoyed my female she was a very good companion and very sweet unlike hamsters who tend to be a solitary animal not to mention the tendancy to bite ...often ( but then again like all animals if they are handled often and raised as a pet and provided with attention they are not all biters ) So I REALLY enjoyed her as a pet, as for the cage u could use a large tank or a cage for hamsters or a G-pig just make sure the cage pieces are close enough together so they dont fit their head through because if they can fit their head through they can squeese their entire bodies through. They only other issue we noticed was maintaining the cage and weekly cleaning to avoid any smell coming from the cage. :) best of luck

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answers from Dallas on

I have had several rats, and I LOVE LOVE them! Get females, they are more tame. Males can tend to be more aggressive. Make sure to handle them from a young age so they are used to you- preferably get babies. I kept mine in large cages with ramps. They need exercise, room to climb, etc. I also had hammocks in their cages for cuddling. They love treats. They don't smell, are very easy to care for, and such a delight! They love people!

I don't have rats now, I have a guinea pig (and I love him as much as I loved my rats, if not more! He's so much fun!).

Do not get a ferret, they smell SO BAD!!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

What about a ferret?

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Shreveport on

Rats get bigger than 3 to 4 inches. But they make lovely pets. We had various ones over the years and miss them dearly. We started off with our oldest son when he was about 2 having pet rats. They were wonderful around him and loved riding around on his shoulders. Use to scare the daylights out of people when they realized a toddler had rats sitting on him.
As for getting males or females that can be iffy. I had some lovely females and I have had some lovely males. I have had some not so nice males and females. They were still great pets just a bit temperamental.
Cost can depend on you really. They need toys,chew toys,a good quality food and a good quality bedding. Bedding can be easy if you buy a large bag of it. It may cost up to $30 but a large bag even cleaning the cage once a week can last you a couple of months. Food can range from a few dollars that wont last but 2 weeks or you can pay up to 10 to 15 dollars and have the food last(in a seal-able container) 2 months maybe more.

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answers from Detroit on

We LOVE our rats! They do not like to be alone, so you will probably want to have 2 of the same sex. They are easy and smart and loving. You can train them to do tricks. They do not "dart" like other rodents when set down - they stick close. They are very social and want to be by people. They have never bitten my kids, even when squeezed a bit tight. We have two females, and my kids are so in love! They are much better for the kids than the hamster we had. Bedding is not too expensive, and the food is reasonable. Plus, I give them our scraps from dinner, and they go crazy! Pizza crusts and fruits and veggies are huge hits. Enjoy your new pet(s)!!!


answers from Phoenix on

I had 2 rats as pets when I was young. I'm 44 now and don't really remember much about them other than LOVING them!!! Good luck!



answers from Detroit on

I miss my rats! I had 2 males and they were just so awesome. The last one (Nicodemus) died while I was pregnant with my 4 year old and I always said I'd get another pair when he was old enough to enjoy it. Few more years for us I think... We currently have 2 cats, a dog, a bird, and 2 fish tanks. Go for the rats, you'll love them!



answers from Detroit on

I had rats from about the age of 8. My dad removed the door from an old fridge (small one) and put a removable cage front on it. We had 3 rats (all female) living in there and it was super easy to clean out. Rats will generally make one area of their cage into the bathroom, they dont like to be dirty. We used to make harnesses for our rats and take them for walks around the neighborhood, we raced them up and down the stairs and often had to make traps to recatch them when they went on an expedition into the airing cupboard (we also had cats!). Definitely a great pet to be handled, even if it's just sitting on your shoulder. I would lean toward getting a very young female but I think if your kids are under 6 they may be too young to handle it (or would need to be supervised). My daughter is almost 6 and I don't think she is ready to have a rat - I think 7 or 8 is a good age for a rodent. My friends had hamsters and mice and they were boring and didn't do anything but eat and sleep. Good luck.



answers from San Francisco on

We did when my boy was 10, the rat's name was Ben, he kind of creeped me out at first, but then I grew to love the "BIG RAT". I cried when he passed and I actually spent a lot of money on a vet bill that prolonged his little "rat life" for about a year!

He was gray with a icky long tail that only a little boy and loving mommy could love.




answers from Joplin on

I had two rats before I had children. I adored them. They are super smart and can be trained. My female was sweet and very calm, she would hang out on my shoulder. My male was kind of fiesty, he liked to "rough house" but he was very good about never breaking the skin. They both knew their names, they were both potty trained and the female would even give kisses on command. I don't recall them being very costly. I had to buy bedding on a regular basis and i bought some commercial pellet type food and also some commercial treats, but they also ate quite a bit "table food" fruits, veggies. Really there was very little they did not like to eat! They did not get expensive until they got sick. Rats are very prone to tumors. And I cannot stand the idea of an animal suffering, and also I had grown very attached, they were like my "babies' Really they do not have very long life spans.


answers from Santa Fe on

No, but we have taken care of the class rats and I found them to be surprisingly nice pets. They liked to be petted and were constantly cleaning themselves. We really enjoyed them! What I have learned is that they are extremely smart so they 1. need a large cage and 2. prefer to live with another rat for company and 3. prefer plenty of time out of the cage being held, playing, stimulation etc. This is too much work/commitment for me at this time. I would feel guilty if the rat did not get enough time being held and played with each day. I would hate to think of it being bored/suffering. I think you don't have to get a 2nd rat, but it does make them happier to have a "mate". We did just get our 7 year old a hamster and with lots of supervision (at first) he is great with it.



answers from Dallas on

My 13 year old son has one. Personally, I don't recommend them. Their cage gets very smelly and unless you don't mind changing the cage often, I don't think you'll enjoy them. That's just my personal opinion. They are a very curious animal, which is interesting. I wish you the best.



answers from Detroit on

Just my 0.02...I personally would not do a ferret if you feel you can't manage a dog or a cat. Ferrets are extremely active and inquisitive - they won't be happy just being in a cage all the time. They need lots of exercise and attention and they get into everything. Plus, they smell. All ferrets sold as pets are spayed/neutered and have had their main scent glands removed, so they are not as bad as they could be, but they are still pretty stinky. And they require more medical care than you might think, especially as they get older - they are prone to adrenal gland problems and a whole host of other issues, including cancer. I am not trying to knock ferrets, I know many people who have them and love them and they can be a lot of fun and very amusing and friendly, but personally they are just not my cup of tea. Like any pet, there are things to know about them and take into consideration before getting one.

Rats are highly intelligent and can make good pets if they are handled from the time they are babies and used to human contact. I also like guinea pigs, since they are also relatively tame and easy to care for if they are used to people. Any kind of decent sized cage should do. However, the kids should be supervised at all times if they are handling any animal. Also, many rodents (as well as reptiles) can carry Salmonella, so that's another thing to be aware of - make sure the kids wash their hands really well after handling them. A rat's average life span is around 3 years, while a guinea pig is usually 5 to 6, if they are cared for properly.



answers from Dallas on

We don't have one, but have seriously been considering getting a couple of males. From what I have read and heard, they make awesome pets. THey love to be held and cuddled (males are better for this as the females are busier). Because of their high intelligence they can easily be potty trained. They are naturally clean anyways....they normally poop in one corner.

My sister is a vet tech that has worked in a research facility and said she loved the rats. They were so easy to handle and she would take a rat over any other rodent type pet.



answers from Minneapolis on

I had a pet rat growing up. I got her in 7th grade. She was my favorite pet I ever had. If you get a rat, get a female. Rats are very smart and trainable. My rat could walk on a tightrope, sit on shoulders, jump, all kinds of cool things. All you need to keep a rat happy is a cage (at least a 3 story one), some toys, and food. A nice cage will run about $50, and food is probably $8 a month and then there is the bedding which is like 10 bucks for a huge pack of it. The only downside is cleaning the cage, and rats only live like 3 years max. My rat got lumps all over her which I assumed was cancer and then she died at 3 years old. But like I said, she was an awesome pet,and I cant wait til my son is a little older so he can have one too.



answers from Detroit on

I have two children, 6 & 2. After much research we adopted our rats from a local rat shelter as advised (petstore rats can come with a host of problems) and ended up with 2 lovely black hooded females. They are social and kind and very fun. We went with the critter nation cage and it has worked out really well (though i will say the cage was expensive). We went to the fabric store for fleece to make our own hammicks but realized it is cheaper just to buy them from a maker online (if you want web addresses email me). We get organic food from another online source since the petstore food will actually shorten their lifespan. We went with the shredded paper bedding which i am in the process of moving away crom because the ratties love to nest and it ends up all over, actually after i stop playing on mamasource i will be ordering fleece cage mats/liners instead. We love the rats, the kids love the rats -- But as a parent I have come to
the following conclusions:
1. I don't think they are that great a pet for young children and this is why: they are active really active. They love to run all over (we play with them in the bathroom (naturally ratproof area) and my two year old who is a very calm child can't stay still enough to play with themm meaning that they come up to play and she almost steps on them or swishes them. And for my loving 6 year old - he is still and lets them climb on him which is fun, but there is no just holding and petting for long periods of time like a guinea pig. I hear males are more calm but pee a lot (which granted isn't large puddles or anything). Also we have to be covered head to toe in clothing AND SHOES. This is because their nails are very very sharp and the lightest scamper can cause a good scratch. We placed brick pavers by the food dishes which helps a lot to file them down, but you still have to be careful. The shoes are because ours love to chew and nice worn socks are a treat, so unless you want your toes nibbled shoes it is. I shoul mention our ratties are NOT bitters at all and lick us affectionately, I just think nails and socks confuse them and they think they can nibble on those since it isn't skin. They also love watches, earrings and necklaces so when playing with them you have to be accessory free. Lastly and this is the most unfortunate bullet, most people do not like rats. I didn't think this would be an issue, but it has become one. When my son talks about his pets in class some kids go "ewww gross" and his grandparents refuse to see them or even let him tell them about them and this really hurts his feelings. Just this week he said go me "mama why does everyone hate rats?" I felt so bad. So you see while they in fact ARE WONDERFUL there are serious issues that you should be aware of to make an informed decision. Good luck and if you do get a pair of ratties, I hope they are as sweet as ours ;)

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