If you're seeking an uncommon, clever, and loving friend, rats can be a great option as pets. They are fun-loving, low-maintenance, clean, and don't need much space to thrive. Our vets at South Wilton can offer valuable information on the benefits of having a pet rat and why you should think about adopting one.
Reasons to Own a Rat
Keeping rats as pets can be a great option for those who want a low-maintenance yet social and intelligent companion.
Rats are naturally curious and enjoy forming bonds with their owners. Despite their smaller size, they are very playful and can provide entertainment for their owners.
In addition, owning a pet rat is relatively affordable, as rat cages, food, and supplies are not very expensive. Their shorter lifespan also means that they do not require a long-term commitment like some other pets.
Overall, rats make a great choice for those on a budget who want a fun and affectionate companion.
Health Benefits of Pet Rats
Having a pet rat can bring numerous health benefits, despite being commonly viewed as a nuisance. Owning a pet rat can instill a sense of routine and responsibility that can positively impact individuals struggling with depression or anxiety.
Pet rats make great companions and can improve one's immune system, reduce allergies in children, lower blood pressure, cholesterol levels, and the risk of stroke. They also provide comfort and therapeutic benefits, making them a perfect fit for those with chronic illnesses.
In addition, caring for a pet rat can teach children about animal care and responsibility, promoting empathy and respect. Overall, owning a pet rat can be a fulfilling experience that offers physical and emotional benefits for both children and adults alike.
Rat Care Facts
Rodents have front teeth called incisors that continue to grow throughout their lives. The upper incisors are shorter than the lower ones.
Rats often experience overgrown incisors, but this can be avoided by giving them opportunities to gnaw, such as chewing toys and wood.
If necessary, veterinarians can file down or grind overgrown incisors, usually under anesthesia. Rats are opportunistic eaters and can become obese if not fed properly.
They are also susceptible to chronic respiratory infections and mammary tumors. Although male and female rats tend to get along well, they can mate early, before the age of two months.
Selecting Your Pet
Did you know that you can adopt a rat from a shelter or purchase one from a pet store or breeder? Young rats are referred to as pups.
To ensure that a rat is healthy, check that their eyes and nose are clear of any discharge, and watch out for sneezing, which could indicate a respiratory infection.
Healthy rats tend to be active and curious, while sick rats may appear thin or sit quietly in corners. If you notice moisture around a rat's anus, it could be a sign of diarrhea, and their skin and hair coat should be free of parasites.
Examining a rat's mouth for issues like broken or overgrown incisors, discolored gums, and sores is a good idea. Finally, be sure to inquire about any health guarantees offered by the shelter or seller.
How long do rats live as pets?
Pet rats have a relatively short lifespan compared to other household pets. On average, pet rats can live for around 2-3 years, although some may live up to 4-5 years with proper care.
However, there are some instances of rats living longer than 5 years, with the oldest recorded pet rat living up to 7 years.
Factors such as genetics, diet, exercise, and overall health can play a significant role in the lifespan of a pet rat. Rats that receive proper nutrition, exercise, and veterinary care may live longer and healthier lives.
If you have recently bought a pet rat, it's important to take them to a vet with experience with rats within 48 hours. The shelter or seller may have this as a requirement, and not having it could void any guarantees. During the examination, the vet will weigh your rat and give advice on what to feed them, how to house them, and what toys to provide. They will also examine a stool sample to check for parasites.
Annual physical examinations and fecal tests are necessary to check for parasites, and neutering can be discussed with the veterinarian. Rats should be examined at least once a year and twice a year as they age. Vaccination is unnecessary for rats.