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Having a Rat as a Pet

Tammy use to own Pet Rats and she decided to share her knowledge about them. Tammy is an article writer, web designer and home care worker.

Pet Rat Owners and Rat Lovers!

Having a pet rat is an interesting experience. They are fun, cuddly and exotic. Many people find having pet rats to be disgusting. Before knowing their characters, I felt the same way. I was terrified my daughter and I would catch a terrible sickness from them. We then rescued our first rat and things gradually changed.

Our first one's name was "Oreo." We then got "Cookie" and then "Cupcake". My daughter helped us name them all.

I will include photos to show you how cute these little rodents actually are. All three of our pets were females. I will include facts and opinions such as: What do pet rats eat?, How long do they live? Can pet rats give you diseases? and I will answer: "Are rats good for kids?"

How Long Do Rats Live?

Pet rats usually live between 1-3 years old. It is sad to see they don't live very long so you should love and care for them as long as you can. Our first pet rat lived for around two years and it was very sad to see her go.

It is common for pet rats to get cancer tumors, respiratory disease and bladder infections as they grow older. Many people who have never had a pet rat believes that rats carry diseases and they become extremely afraid of them.

Cookie playing baby rat.

Cookie playing baby rat.

Can Pet Rats Give Diseases to Humans?

This has been a debate for many years and some people believe they can get diseases from rats. Most domesticated rats are usually clean and healthy animals. Street or sewer rats most likely will have spreadable diseases if a human is too active with them and doesn't wash hands after contact with the sewer rat. Sewer rats are not domesticated, therefore they do obtain many spreadable diseases. Seoul Virus is a type of Hantavirus that comes from Norway. This virus will make a person very sick if they breath in virus particles from an infected rat.

However, many pet and domesticated rats are clean and not all of them spread diseases to humans. Pet rats are more like a house cat or indoor puppy. They spend a lot of their time cleaning themselves and each other.

The CDC (center of disease control) states that rats do carry germs and can make people sick. With that said, please investigate before bringing your rat home. Take them to a veterinarian and have the doctor check him or her for diseases. Follow the safety steps that your veterinarian(s) and healthcare provider(s) recommend. They will suggest that you always keep your pets cage cleaned and you take the cage outside when you clean it. Rat droppings do carry many germs. So you do not want them in your house.

Are pet rats safe for kids?

Make sure your children wash their hands before and after handling a rat. If you are considering getting one of these little rodents for your child, examine the rats attitude and actions first. Also, find out the rat's life history and health. Try to keep children from holding and cuddling these little animals too much. Some rats do bite.

Many pet rats are extremely friendly to children and safe for kids to play with as long as safety precautions have been met. Rats are more curious then many people would think. They are adventurous animals that have their own personalities. Some of them are shy and timid while others may be mean and aggressive.

Many pet rats have been abused and neglected which leads them to believe they need to bite and protect themselves. It is a natural instinct for rats to try to survive so they hoard food and make rats nests. The best way to choose a safe rat is to buy it from a pet store and raise it from a young age.

Pet rats are extremely social animals and should be paired with another rat if locked in a cage most of the time.Being a lone isn't always a fun experience for animals.

If you have any questions about pet rats, please ask them below. I will try my best to answer all questions. Feel free to share your pet rat stories below as well.

What Do Pet Rats Eat?

There is pet rat food sold at most pet stores. These stores sell rat food that includes: sunflower seeds, grains plus corn. Many veterinarians will tell you not to feed your pet rat too much of the food that is sold in most pet stores because of how fat your rat can get from it. They tend to only pick out the fatty seeds that are included in the mixture of seeds and grains. You should try to feed your little creature vegetables and fruits on top of a small amount of rat food you buy from store.

Fresh watermelon, pears, bananas, cantaloupe and other fresh fruits are recommended. Rats usually love corn plus other vegetables that you and I eat. If you have free roaming rats, you will probably find out that they will want and eat anything you are eating. Rats love sweets such as ice-cream, brownies, cakes and puddings. It is alright to give them dark chocolate and a little sweet treat every once in awhile but not too often. Too many sweets can upset their tummies.

Many veterinarians recommend a nutritional "Forti-Diet" food for pet rats. These are shaped like small wood pellets and don't contain any whole seeds. They aid in digestive health and promotes a soft, healthy coat for your little animal. These pet rat food pellets support the rats heart, brain and visual functions. You should consider filling their dish with these nutritional food pellets.

Pet Rat "Cookie" eating fresh watermelon

Pet Rat "Cookie" eating fresh watermelon

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"Cupcake" and "Cookie" Pet rats eating watermelon.

"Cupcake" and "Cookie" Pet rats eating watermelon.

Cookie drinking coffee

Cookie drinking coffee


Can you find what is hiding in the tree?

Cupcake, the Christmas Tree Rat

Cupcake, the Christmas Tree Rat

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2010 Tammy Winters


Changophant on August 03, 2013:

I like it. I can add that they are extremely easy to potty train ! Extremely intelligent similar to a small child. They snuggle sometimes & one of there favorite activity besides exploring is to go say hi to their humans while they are working on websites or kicking back watching tv. Make sure you have some coffee left but don't let them drink too much. Also keep an eye on your lit cigarettes some may actually try to smoke them. Rats like to give the cutest little kisses, but will put their little hands up sometimes if your try to kiss them to much.

Very safe pet for a child. Any animal can bite. Rat bite is at worst a bandaid compared to that of a dog is minimal. Or even less than just a scratch of a cat. The only time I have ever seen a rat bite is for fear of its life when doing nothing wrong.

Jessica Peri from United States on July 30, 2013:

I agree on feeding them healthier; I have two pet rats who used to eat Tropical Carnival's seed diet. They loved it, but it was fattening. Since I switched them over to Oxbox Rat pellets they have gotten lighter, my rat Patches especially. They also feel so soft now, even Gadget who has coarser hair. Voted up!

Tammy Winters (author) from Oregon on May 12, 2012:

That is very cute...I heard girl rats are more playful too. Thanks for sharing your story. Rats can be such cute creatures and pets.

Miss michele on May 11, 2012:

My 3 daughters have 5 female rats, I thought they were gross @ first, I hated their tails but after I got to know them even I fell in love with them! They're smart, loyal and so sweet. When I'm sad they make me smile. Our girls are Victoria, alfey, Carrie, Olivia and munch

glutenallergy on April 04, 2012:

I recently bought two male rats for my daughters (ages 9 and 12). I'm glad I read this article, because your advice on food is good. My girls fill the food bowl to the top every day, and don't let the rats eat it all before adding more. We have noticed that they LOVE the nuts, and now I know why. I will tell them this morning to let them eat it all before giving them more, and to follow the feeding instructions so they don't cause their rats to get fat (especially since the rats have NO interest in the running wheel). Thank you.

glensa on February 29, 2012:

this is intereseting. i would not want a pet rodent becuase they carry disease. i just read about 3 people that died because they handled a hamster. when the hamsters were transported to the pet store they came in contact with wild mice that transferred a disease to them. the people that died where liver and heart transplant patient. Im going to show this mp3 to the girls at the pet store where i work. i looked for the original source but can't find it, this is from a webpage that about getting the best mouse trap.

Tammy Winters (author) from Oregon on February 22, 2012:

Oh my, I have never heard of a pet rat dieing like this. I am so sorry to hear that @my2girls. I have had two pet rats die but never like that. Maybe it is because we let our pet rats free roam and don't lock them in the cages at all times?

my 2 girls on February 21, 2012:

We just got home from vacation 4 days total of our rats was dead ...It was weird because he had his mouth around the wire on the cage...I had to cot his tong? with a scissors to get him off the cage....He has always ben a smaller male.. My other rat would always take all the food my little girls would feed him while they left the other rat in the broke there heart to come home last night and find perez dead...lots of tears....


Admiral_Joraxx from Philippines on November 16, 2011:

Well, pet rats are not that bad at all. They are actually good and relaxing to look at. Great presentation about pet rats here TammyFrost. 1 vote up for this.=)

jhosler on October 25, 2011:

Great hub, I really love rat as a pet. ^^

Cashbackshopper on September 05, 2011:

They are really cute. I always love to talk to them and listening their cute voice.

Andi on March 27, 2011:

I just got two pet boy rats yesterday, and named them Chester and WIlson (from the book, Chester's Way). They are amazingly sweet. Thanks for all your useful information!!

SurrendersAlright on December 12, 2010:

My twins want pet rats, and already have names picked out for them (Mario & Luigi). I think our cat, Lady Aberlin, will have the final say however. This was a nice and informative piece, Thank you.

Pamela Lipscomb from Charlotte, North Carolina on December 09, 2010:

People can fall in love with anything. No judgments for rat lovers. They need love and care too!

Tammy L from Jacksonville, Texas on December 05, 2010:

Your pet rats are so cute. I don't think it's unusual or disgusting to have a pet rat. I know people who have pet snakes. Lots of useful information here.

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