Rats as Pets!

Updated on November 16, 2010
P.H. asks from McKinney, TX
18 answers

HI Moms,
Instead of a lizard, my son is now thinking about getting a rat for a pet. Do any of your kids have a rat or rats as a pet?
What is your experience with them? I really apreciate any advice you may have. Thank you.

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answers from Boston on

I've had both (I'm an animal lover). Definately go with the rat. As others have said, they're friendlier and trainable AND they don't eat live crickets, which end up hopping all over the house. Good luck!

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Sacramento on

they're actually pretty good pets! I had a friend who had one that was trained to walk on a leash and would use the toilet! it would perch on her shoulder like a bird when they went out. get one that's been hand raised if you can, they're much friendlier and used to being handled.

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answers from Dallas on

When I worked at the pet store right out of high school I was freaked out about it but that is until you actually see how calmer and gentler they are. Of course it should be from a breeder not wild caught but they really are more predictable and sweet. I ended up taking three home so they would not become snake food----even my mom fell in love with them and that was when I knew for sure there was something to them. I am currently trying to convince my daughter who wants a hamster to try a rat first.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I had rat lab in college. Since the rats were used in learning experiments they could not be re-used for future experiments. They euthanized them. So, I had to steal my "Edelweiss" after the final. He was so sweet. I had cats so I couldn't keep him, but I gave him to my neighbor and I used to see him all of the time.

He was a perfect pet because he was bred for educational purposes. Plus- I taught him how to play basketball which was always a lot of fun to watch!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

I have not had O. but I hear they are clean, intelligent and loving. (Seriously!)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

Rats are easier to keep than most reptiles, which have more specific needs regarding diet, UV lighting, humidity, etc. Many lizards will not thrive if these requirements are not met; rats tend to just need rodent pellets, other foods for treats, fresh water and clean bedding. Get them young and they can be quite sociable and easy to handle. But be aware that many rodents can carry Salmonella (as can turtles and other reptiles as well) so it's really important everyone washes their hands after handling them (and if your son is preschool age or younger, you might want to wait until he is older, for just this reason.).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Columbus on

My brother had a pet rat which lived about 3 years. The cage had to be tended to (changing the bedding pretty regularly, I think every couple or 3 days) or it would smell like urine.

However, if treated gently and handled regularly , they actually nice pets--they are very smart and social and can be very friendly.

IMO, a lizard would never get as friendly as a rat, but maybe they are less work (depends on the lizard: my brothers had a couple, and some needed to have live crickets kept and fed to them, which was grosser, to me, than changing the rat's bedding).

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

They are a lot more social and cuddly than a lizard, Smarter, so you can train them, and a lot easier to care for. I would go for it!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Santa Fe on

We've taken care of a friend's rat many times over holidays. I was surprised to find out it was charming and sweet! It likes to sit on you lap and snuggle. If you pet it, it closes it's eyes and looks so happy. Also, it was always cleaning itself (like a cat). My son wants one too and I would consider it when he is older (he's 6 now) and can take care of it himself. From what I have learned about rats, they are very smart and I would feel really guilty if the rat did not have good quality time playing outside of it's cage every single day. You do have to clean their cage often and I have heard they are much happier if you have more than one.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

One of my friend always had rats growing up... she loved them, they were pretty great pets.



answers from Dallas on

I love rats as pets! I've had 2 (both female), and it's amazing how smart and sweet they are. One of mine was always free to run around my room, and she would climb back into her cage on her own to use the bathroom! When my kids are older (and maybe after our dogs are gone), we'll probably get one.

Good luck!


answers from San Francisco on

Sorry Mama,personally I really have a phobia about rats.
I am remembering an experience when I was younger and at an outdoor hippy party.
I was chatting to this girl and suddenly I saw a tail coming up from her top.
I said what is that? She said it's my pet. There it was,a rat hanging from her breast. I will never forget the fright I got.
I say each to their own but I really don't like them.
Just giving you my view as you are getting a lot of positive responses.
I see rats as vermin.



answers from Youngstown on

I never had a rat as a pet, but my sister loves them! She has had up to 5 of them at once as pets. They are actually great pets. She would take them out and let them run around the house. They even showed her affection. The only down side is they don't live very long. I think maybe 3-4 years if I am remembering corectly, and her rats were always having health problems. She had them at the vet constantly. They are prone to respiratory problems. But she loved them as pets and raves about them. Good luck whatever you decide :)


answers from Oklahoma City on

i had 2 rats..i didn't like it, one was friendly (dragon), the other didn't like to be handled and eventually just got fed and watered (my daughter's-jake) and somewhat vicious. my husband's (the frindly one) was white and brown with one pink eye and one black (was pretty-named dragon) that one was SMART! Just have to make sure they are handled regularly so they stay social. After that we decided no rodents, but i doubt that will go long..my daughter wants a bunny...sigh...dont' know if we'll do that just yet

kinda just like any other pet, if you just feed and water it, wont do much for you, the more you teach it, the funner it'll be



answers from Dallas on

One year my daughter volunteered to keep the class pet rat over the summer. The teacher called me to make sure it was ok. This teacher was so good to my child that I would do anything for them - including keeping the class pet.
It worked out much better than I expected, but we were glad when we dropped the rat off at school for the new year.


answers from Dallas on

I've had four rats, three have been female, and one male. The male was not a good experience, he was aggressive, but that may not be typical. The other three were absolutely wonderful pets. You should get one as a baby, not from a petstore, so you can properly socialize them. Hold them often, let them interact with you. Do not seclude them, they are social creatures. I can't say enough good things about them!

Also something to consider, reptiles can carry salmonella.



answers from Muncie on

I had a rat growing up and would take her around on my shoulder. Two things to remember is that males can stink a lot more than females. Also they tend to be nocturnal animals and will play on their wheel and rearrange their house in the middle of the night. Never bothered me but if you have a light sleeper it might.



answers from Anchorage on

We used to have mice, they smell really bad and the cage must be cleaned every day or the smell just gets so strong. I would think rats would be worse given the larger size, but can not say for sure.

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