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5 reasons why rats make the best pets


Photo by AlexK100 licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

When you think of pets you probably picture dogs, cats, fish and maybe even birds — but what about rats? Believe it or not, rats have been loyal companions to humans for over 200 years! In the 1800s, the term “fancy rat” was created to tell the difference between the domesticated critters and their street-dwelling kin, with the lucky rodents being featured in shows (something that still happens today!) It may come as a surprise, but rats make great pets for both kids and adults, and we have all the reasons why.   

1. Rats are super smart

A white rat looks focusedly on something off-camera

Photo by Greencolander licensed CC BY 2.0

Have you ever seen a rat rollover on command? How about a rat that plays fetch? Rats can do both those things and more! Rats are extremely intelligent creatures, which makes training them a piece a cake. In fact, the reason why rats are used in scientific studies (think mazes) is to study behaviour since they have such high levels of emotional intelligence. Your pet rat will also learn the name you give them!

2. Rats keep it clean

A grey rat perches on a turquoise towel

Photo by AlexK100 licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

Feel free to skip the tub with these little guys! You know how cats are always grooming themselves? Rats actually groom more often and even better than those felines. Getting dirty is just not for rats, and if they do get something in their fur, the first thing they do is try to clean it up. Rats also like to keep their cages nice and organized, and if you have more than one rat, you’ll often see them grooming each other.

3. Rats are booming with personality

A white rat peeks out from a hole cut into a cardboard box

Photo by Uzbecka licensed CC BY 2.0

All these friendly little critters have distinct personalities — some are outgoing, some laid-back and some always want to socialize. Part of the fun of owning a rat, is getting to know your pet’s personality and seeing it grow as they become comfortable in their surroundings. Many rat owners say their pets’ personalities are a constant source of entertainment to them, especially when they’re met with a brand new object or toy to interact with! 

4. Rats are low-maintenance

A white and grey rat munches on a snack while sitting on someone's shoulder

Photo by AlexK100 licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

It’s not just their excellent hygiene that makes rats low-maintenance pets, but also the fact that there are no walks required! Domesticated rats make their home in cages, and being nocturnal means they like to sleep for 13 to 15 hours a day so you don’t have to worry about keeping them occupied for long stints — though they’ll happily wake up for play time with their owners! Just be sure not to leave your pet alone for too long, they still need love and socialization just like any family member.

5. Rats will love you!

Two rats snuggling and posing for the camera

Photo by AlexK100 licensed CC BY-SA 2.0

You know how cats purr? Well, rats brux! Bruxing is a noise rats make by tapping their teeth together and it’s a sign that they’re happy and comfortable in their environment. Many rat owners say the time they hear the most bruxing is when their pet gets to relax on their shoulder or in their arms. Rats bond to their owners very deeply and recognize their face, voice and will even try to groom their humans as they would a fellow rat!