Ever Thought Of Keeping Rats As Pets? 25+ Helpful FAQs To Help You Decide

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Pet rats are super cute, super smart, super affectionate, and incredibly entertaining! But is a rat a good pet option for you and your family? Especially if you have children? If you have ever thought about having rats as pets, then this article could be just what you are looking for to help you decide (if you would like other pet ideas for your kids, check out this article: What Should A Childs First Pet Be? 11 Great Pets To Consider (That Aren’t Cats Or Dogs)!

Pet rats are not a new thing. They have been kept as pets for generations, with the earliest records of pet rats being found in Japan in the 1600s, Europe in the early 1800s, and North America in the early 1900s.

There are many reasons why rats make great pets.  They are intelligent, affectionate, and can be trained to do tricks. They are also clean and easy to care for, and they love to play. Rats also have really sweet personalities!

If you are considering getting a rat as a pet, be sure to do your research first. Rats can be great companions, but just like every other pet they also need a lot of care, time, and attention.

Pet Rats Pros and Cons

Keeping rats as pets is a topic that is often debated. Some people feel that they are amazing creatures that make great pets, while others feel they are dirty and disease-ridden. The following will explore the pros and cons of keeping rats as pets.


  • Pet rats are intelligent and can be trained to do tricks.
  • Rats are social animals and they enjoy being around their owners.
  • They are inexpensive to keep.
  • Pet rats are relatively easy to care for.
  • Rats are hygienic and clean and they don’t generally smell.
  • Rats are a great option for people who suffer from allergies and are allergic to cats and dogs.
  • Rats are a perfect size and are easy to handle for children.
  • Rats are relatively low-maintenance pets.
  • They are good for teaching children about responsibility.
  • Rats are entertaining to watch and interact with.


  • Rats can be aggressive and bite if they are not handled with care and respect.
  • Rats only live for about 2 or 3 years.
  • Rats are social animals, so ideally, they should have another rat friend to keep them company.
  • Just like other pets, rats need good health care so veterinary bills need to be taken into account.
  • Rats are nocturnal so they are most active at night.

What Are The Different Types Of Pet Rats?

Pet Rats all come from one species of rat known as the Brown Rat (Rattus Norvegicus). However, to make them sound more appealing to pet owners, they have been given the name “Fancy Rats”. While fancy rats are all from the same species, over time they have been selectively bred so that they now come in many different colors, coat textures, and ear positions. The American Fancy Rat And Mouse Association (AFRMA) recognizes 7 different fancy rat varieties:

  • Standard Rats
  • Rex
  • Tailless
  • Hairless
  • Satin
  • Dumbo
  • Bristle Coat

Rat Types, Markings And Colors

Are Rats Good Pets For Children?

Some people may have a misconception that pet rats are bad pets for children because they are rodents and can carry diseases. However, this is not true. Rats are actually very clean animals and can be really great pets for children. 

Here are some reasons why rats make great pets for children:

  • They are small, so they won’t take up too much space in your home
  • If handled carefully, they are affectionate, playful pets with loads of personality
  • Rats are very affectionate pets and they enjoy being stroked and tickled by their human friends.
  • They are relatively easy to take care of and require less maintenance than other types of pets
  • They eat just about anything
  • They will love you unconditionally

Obviously, just with any other pet,  you need to be sure that your kids are at a good age where they can handle your pet rat gently and with care.  Keep in mind that rats could bite or scratch if they feel threatened, are mishandled, or hurt.

Do Pet Rats Bite?

One common concern about pet rats is whether or not they bite. It is true that rats can bite, but it is usually only in self-defense or if they feel threatened. If you handle your rat gently and respectfully, there is no need to worry about being bitten.

Like any animal, pet rats have their own personalities, and some are more aggressive than others. Aggressive pet rats will often try to bite or scratch when they feel threatened, so it’s important to socialize your rat from a young age to prevent aggression in the first place.

Can Pet Rats Make Kids Sick?

Unfortunately, while pet rats are unlikely to make your child sick, they can still carry germs that make kids sick.  If a child is bitten by a pet rat, it’s possible that the child could contract a disease from the rat. But, if treated right away, it is unlikely to cause serious harm.  Making sure that your rat is kept in a clean and hygienic environment will always reduce the chances of the pet rat getting sick and spreading germs to children.

Are Rats Good Pets For Beginners?

Rats are clean, easy to care for, and very smart so they can be very rewarding pets for beginners! 

Pet rats are very intelligent and can even be trained to do tricks! They are social and love to interact with people.  Rats are clean animals that groom themselves regularly and don’t need much additional care besides keeping their cage clean and hygienic. They are also fairly small in size, so they don’t take up a lot of space in your home.

What Do Rats Need To Be Happy As Pets?

Pet rats need a lot of stimulation and interaction in order to be happy. They should have a big cage with plenty of toys and activities to keep them occupied. It is very important that they have a clean and hygienic cage so that they don’t get sick. Because rats are social creatures they should ideally have another rat friend to keep them company when you aren’t around.  They also need human interaction, so you will need to make sure that you spend time playing with your pet rat each day. 

Pet Rat Care Basics

Caring for a pet rat is not as difficult as one might think. Rats are clean animals that enjoy having a personal spot to call their own.   One of the most important things to keep in mind when caring for a rat is to make sure that their cage is always kept clean. You will need to change the bedding in the rats’ cage at least once a week, and you will also need to make sure that they have a lot of space to run and play.  Along with a clean and hygienic cage, they also need a well-balanced diet.

What Do You Feed A Pet Rat?

Rats are not fussy and will eat just about anything! However, a common diet for pet rats is a mix of dry pellets, fresh vegetables, and occasional treats. The pellets should be high quality and specifically designed for rats; many owners also like to supplement with fresh vegetables like broccoli, carrots, and spinach. Treats can include things like yogurt drops, small pieces of fruit, or a tiny bit of cooked meat.

DIY Healthy Salad For Pet Rats

How Long Do Rats Live As Pets?

Generally, a pet rat can live for about 2 to 3 years depending on their diet and how well they are looked after.

Common Rat Health Problems

Rats are often seen as dirty and disease-ridden animals, but the truth is that they are pretty clean and hardy creatures. However, like all animals, they are vulnerable to certain health problems, so it is important to keep an eye on them.  Rats are also notorious for hiding their diseases, so it can be difficult to spot a problem. However, if you do notice something, it is important to get help right away.

Some of the more common rat health issues include:

Respiratory Illnesses

Rats can suffer from a variety of respiratory problems and these are often caused by viruses or bacteria.  It is important to make sure that your rat’s cage is kept clean to avoid any contaminated urine, feces or litter.

Skin Problems

Rats can also suffer from a variety of skin problems, including mites and lice. These problems are often caused by poor hygiene, lack of grooming, or poor diet.

Tummy Problems

Rats can suffer from a variety of gastrointestinal problems, including diarrhea, constipation, and stomach ulcers. These problems are often caused by bacteria or viruses and can be worsened by a poor diet or an unhygienic environment.


Tumors are a common problem for pet rats, and it is very important that you speak to a vet if you notice one.  Besides an actual lump, you may also notice that your rat starts either gaining or losing an unusual amount of weight.  He may also be lethargic, in pain, or he may begin moving strangely.

What Size Cage Does A Rat Need?

Bigger is always better!  However, according to PetKeen, there are a couple of guidelines you can follow:

As a general rule, if you have one rat, your cage should be no smaller than 1.5 to 2.5 cubic feet (or 18” x 15” x 12.5”, which is the ideal size and works out to 2 cubic feet). The more rats you have, the larger the cage should be.


Obviously the more rats you have the more space you will need for them to live happily!  They will also need platforms and tunnels to explore as well as boxes to hide in. 

Can I Have Just One Rat?

If you’re considering getting a rat as a pet, you may be wondering if you can have just one. The answer is yes, you can have just one rat, but it is preferable to have at least two. While rats are social creatures and do best with a buddy, they can be happy living alone if they have plenty of love and attention from their human companions.  With proper care, your single rat can be a happy and healthy pet.

Do Rats Need Baths?

Rats are very clean animals and groom themselves constantly so they don’t need to be bathed.  However, some rats enjoy the water a lot so there is no harm in giving them a bath.  If they don’t enjoy bathing then you can give them a quick sponge bath or even just wipe them down with a damp cloth if necessary.

If you decide to give your pet rat a bath, it is important to use very mild shampoo because regular shampoos can be too harsh for their delicate skin. There are a number of rat shampoos available on the market to choose from.  When bathing your rat, make sure the water is not too hot or too cold. It should be lukewarm. Also, make sure you do not get water in their eyes, nose, or ears.  If your rat isn’t too keen on the idea of having a bath, you will need to make it a regular part of their routine so they can get used to it.

Can You Potty Train A Rat?

Rats are very intelligent creatures and can be potty trained. They naturally like to live in a clean home so they prefer to pick a spot where they can poop and pee. This quick video shows how you can use this natural instinct to your advantage when you would like to potty train a pet rat.

Do Rats Recognize Their Owners?

While we don’t know for sure if rats can recognize their owners, it’s clear that they form strong bonds with the people they live with. If you have a pet rat, you should take the time to get to know it and form a bond with it.

There have been some studies that have shown that rats may be able to recognize individual humans by their voices. This means that if you’ve had a rat for a while, it may recognize your voice and respond to you when you speak to it.

Rats are very social creatures, and they form strong bonds with their fellow rats. It’s thought that they may be able to transfer these bonds to humans and that they may see their owners as part of their social group.

Do Rats Recognize Their Names?

It’s a common question asked by pet owners: do rats recognize their names? The answer is a resounding yes! Rats are highly intelligent creatures that are capable of learning and remembering all sorts of information.  When you call your rat’s name, they will likely come running over to you because they know that you’re the source of good things like treats and petting. rats have excellent memories and can easily learn tricks, so it’s no surprise that they can also learn their own names.

Can Rats Do Tricks?

Yes, they can! Rats are super intelligent and just like dogs, they can learn to do all sorts of tricks. A few tricks you can teach them include spin, fetch, shake hands, roll over and weave just to mention a few.

Awesome, Amazing Rat Tricks

Do Rats Like Music?

It’s no secret that humans love music. We find it relaxing, it can make us happy, and sometimes it’s even better when shared with others. But do rats like music too? It turns out the answer is yes!

Researchers have found that rats like to listen to music. In one study, rats were exposed to different types of music, including classical, rock, and pop. The rats were then given a test to see how well they could remember a task. The results showed that the rats that had listened to music performed better on the test than the rats that had not listened to music.

Music-exposed rodents showed statistically significant increases in neuro-chemistry, such as higher BDNF levels, as well as an enhanced propensity for neurogenesis and neuroplasticity. Furthermore, music exposure was linked with statistically significantly improved spatial and auditory learning, reduced anxiety-related behavior, and increased immune responses. Various statistically significant changes occurred in physiological parameters such as blood pressure and (para)sympathetic nerve activity following music interventions. The majority of studies investigated classical music interventions, but other types of music exerted positive effects on outcomes as well.

National Library Of Medicine | Music Affects Rodents: A Systematic Review of Experimental Research

Do Rats Like To Cuddle?

Rats are really quite friendly and affectionate, and they enjoy spending time on the couch, on people’s shoulders, or in the laps of their human family members. They’ll even groom their human friends as if they were part of the pack!

See What Happens When You Tickle A Rat | National Geographic

Do Male Or Female Rats Make Better Pets?

There really is no right answer to the question of whether male or female rats make better pets. It’s all a matter of personal taste! Female rats are generally more energetic than male rats, who are more laid-back.

Do Rats Need A Wheel?

No, rats don’t necessarily need a wheel. You will often see them in pet stores in small cages with a wheel, but this is not necessary for their health or well-being. That said, exercise wheels are a great way to keep your rat friend busy and get them running without you having to take them out of their cage.  Choose an exercise wheel that is specially designed for rats and that is at least 11 inches in diameter.

How Often Should You Clean A Rat Cage?

When it comes to keeping your rats safe and healthy, a dirty cage is never okay and you will need to clean it regularly – about once a week. A dirty cage can lead to unhealthy conditions, which can, in turn, contribute to sickness, stress, and poor behavior.

Can Pet Rats Free Roam?

Yes, they can! Letting your pet rat roam freely in a safe environment is a great way for him to get exercise and explore his home.  Letting your pet rat roam will help prevent boredom, and he will love spending time running, playing and climbing outside of his cage. Keep in mind that pet rats need to be outside their rat cages for at very least an hour a day.

Do Pet Rats Need Shots?

Pet rats generally don’t need to be vaccinated but it is always a good idea to take them for regular checkups.  If you are concerned about rabies or anything else it is always best to chat to your vet to get the best advice.

What Kind Of Toys Do Rats Like?

It is really important to give your pet rats lots of things to keep them happy, active and entertained, especially when you aren’t around to keep them company. Just like bored children, or dogs, they can easily become mischievous and even destructive if they get bored. Rats like a lot of different types of toys especially if they can be chewed and nibbled on!  Toilet rolls are a sure winner and even tissue boxes can work well. Experiment with different toys to see what your rat enjoys playing with.

5 DIY Rat Toys Made From Recycled Materials

Do Rats Need A Sand Bath?

Other small animals in the wild take frequent dust baths to maintain their coats clean and healthy by absorbing skin oils and debris from their fur. Rats, on the other hand, do not bathe in dust, and it is not a natural behavior for them.

Do Rats Need A Salt Lick?

It is a good idea to give your rat a salt lick because they provide many nutrients and vitamins that your rat needs to be healthy.

Are Rats Cleaner Than Mice?

Rats, on the whole, are cleaner than mice, especially in terms of odor and droppings. Pet rats can also be toilet trained, while pet mice cannot.

Reasons Not To Get A Pet Rat

Just like any pet, it is important to think carefully about whether it would be a good idea to get rats as pets for your kids or your family. All pets need care and attention and rats are no different. Here are a couple of points to think about:

  • Rats are nocturnal, so they are very active at night. This is could be a problem if you enjoy your sleep and your rat’s cage is in your bedroom. On the other hand, if you are a night owl then your rat could be the perfect 2 am companion for you!
  • Rats are social animals so they need lots of company and interaction with their humans or with rat friends. It is always best to have more than one rat. Again, a downside only if you don’t have time to spend with your rat or you don’t want to have more than one furry friend. But then maybe you shouldn’t have a rat to begin with?
  • If your pet rats aren’t potty trained, they will go to the bathroom pretty much anywhere. Don’t be lazy, train your rats 😉
  • Rat pee becomes very stinky, not so much on the first day but by day 2 it is nasty! Potty training your rats and giving them a separate litter box will mean that it is quick and easy to clean out regularly.
  • Rat cages need to be cleaned regularly – once a week, or else they become smelly and your pet rats could get sick. Again, don’t be lazy, clean your rat’s cage 😉
  • Small children will need to be taught how to handle their pet rats gently and with care.
  • Pet rats can and will bite and scratch if they are not handled properly or feel threatened. If you feel threatened, you would bite to…
  • They need at least an hour outside of their cages every day. Who doesn’t enjoy roaming free?
  • Rat’s teeth don’t stop growing so you have to make sure that they have something to gnaw on. If they don’t, they will chew on anything within reach, including your brand new PS5 cables #doh!
  • Pet rats are incredibly clever, so they need a lot of mental stimulation. If they become bored they could start to become destructive.
  • Rats only live for 2 to 3 years so there is a very good chance that they will break your heart when they die 🙁

13 Reasons Why You Should Not Get A Pet Rat


We hope you enjoyed our blog post about whether or not to adopt rats as a pet. These small, fuzzy creatures are so cute and such a joy to care for. We know that many people may not be able to have a pet rat for various reasons but we hope, with the information provided in this article, that you will be able to make the best decision on whether you should adopt rats as pets.

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