Before you buy a Rat...
Before you buy a rat, consider this: rats need a fair amount of care and socialization to be great pets. Do you have enough time to devote to your furry friend?
The Lonely Rat
If you are considering buying only one rat, keep this in mind. Rats are very social animals, who usually live in pairs or groups. If you are considering buying only one rat, will you be able to provide enough bonding time so that your pet rat won't get lonely? If not, consider purchasing two rats, so your rat will have some companionship when you're busy or not around.
Fancy, Dumbo, Rex, or Jumbo?
There are many different types of rats that may or may not be available in your local pet store. The most popular type of rat is the Fancy rat, which you will be able to find in any pet store that carries rats. Fancy rats come in many different colors, ranging from the brown rat, to the albino rat, to hooded rats of many different colors. The term "Fancy" refers to the coloring and markings of the rat.
A Dumbo rat is much the same a a fancy rat, except the ears are larger, and set lower on the side of the face. These rats grow larger than a typical fancy rat, and often are more laid back. Many people describe their Dumbo rats as "mellow," being the type of rat that will just chill on your shoulder while you do housework or watch TV. Not all Dumbo rats possess the same mellow nature however, there are some that are overly hyper or fearful. No matter what kind of personality your Dumbo has, they loved to cuddle and make great pets.
A Rex rat does not differ much from the dumbo rat, except in its appearance. Rex rats feature curly hair and whiskers, while dumbo and fancy rats have sleek, straight fur. Rex rats are also laid back, just like the Dumbo. Some Rex rats feature the large, low set ears like the Dumbo, while others have ears like the Fancy rat.
A Jumbo rat is exactly what it sounds like - it is a jumbo version of any rat. Jumbo rats act the same as any other rat would, the only difference is the size!
Male or Female?
Have you given a thought to what gender rat you want to purchase? Knowing which sex you want to purchase beforehand will help prepare you for what kind of rat you will have. Male rats will typically be your shoulder buddy. That is, they are the kind of rat that will sit on your shoulder while you are on the computer, watching TV, or even doing housework. They love to cuddle up against your neck and get a view of the world from your shoulder. If you like the idea of having your little buddy chill on your shoulder while you go about your day, a male rat is the rat for you. Females are a bit more exploratory, and are much more active than males. If you don't mind hearing your ratties play all day and love watching them wrestle and explore, a female rat may be the rat for you.
What do they eat?
For the most part, rats will eat just about anything you do. Obviously, limits foods that are high in fat and sugar, as these foods are not healthy for pet rats. You can purchase a premade bag of food from the pet store, but many people prefer to feed their rats custom made mixes. Feeding your rat freshly made food that you prepare at home is both healthier and more tasty for them. Rats will eat a number of things, including lettuce, fresh fruits and vegetables, seeds, and nuts. Many people like to keep certain foods purely for treat purposes. Some foods that would be good to use as treats that rats love could be sunflower seeds and yogurt drops. Once a month, it is good to feed rats mealworms, as they are rich in fiber and protein, and it is fun to watch your ratties attack and devour the little worms.
Now comes the cage. It is best if you buy and set up the cage prior to buying your rat. Rat require a lot of room, they love to play and climb, and they love high areas to perch and sleep. A great cage that you can buy is the Rat Mansion, which is available at Petco for $99.99. This cage features two levels, with platforms that you can attach anywhere in the cage. When furnishing your rattie's home, be sure they have a couple of houses, toys to play with, and appropriate bedding. Don't forget to put in their water bottle and food!
Now that you know what to do to prepare for your pet rat, are you ready to adopt a new little friend?
Abbey Otto (author) from Massachusetts on April 10, 2014:
I used to own a couple of females too, and it always made me sad when they did start developing tumors, so I started to buy boys instead. My boyfriend and I currently have two boys, Ralph and Harvey, and they have been great so far! And I agree, owning rats is quite a learning experience, but it is a great one!
Jessica Peri from United States on April 09, 2014:
Good overall hub! I've only ever had females so far, because my pet store only sells female fancy rats. The thing with females is they are more prone to tumors as they get older, especially mammary tumors. So I am happy that you mentioned low sugar and low fat diets - a trimmer rat that eats less sugar is less likely to develop tumors. Owning rats is quite a learning experience. Voted up!