The Featured Pet for this week is: The Pet Rat!
When I was growing up, I had many many pet rats over the years. I got my first rat when I was in 4th grade and her name was Pepper. From then on out, I got several more and actually started breeding them (with my parents help of course!). I love rats, and believe they can make one of the best small pet companions out there – for both children and adults.
Rats are rodents that are small enough to be kept in cages that can easily fit in a child’s room or on a table in a main family room without taking up too much space. As long as they are taken out of their cage on a regular basis, this can be an ideal home for them. For their basic care, just make sure that they have clean bedding once or twice a week (they generally do not create much odor), clean food and water (preferably in a water bottle), and a nice place to sleep in, such as a log or house purchased at a pet store or made from cardboard.
The best way to make sure your rat is nutritionally cared for would be to provide him with commercially prepared rat foods. These should have the right balance of proteins, vitamins, and minerals that he needs. You can also always give your rat fresh fruits and vegetables on the side, such as lettuce, carrots, and apples, as well as various treats found at pet stores or scraps from your table. Other things to take into consideration include giving them something to gnaw on to keep their teeth from getting too long (their teeth are constantly growing!), and giving them vitamin supplements such as calcium supplements because they can be prone to vitamin deficiencies.
Rats get along pretty well together for the most part, so feel free to get a friend for your rat, especially if you don’t think you will be spending a whole lot of time with him/her. However, males will sometimes fight with each other – especially if there is a female around – so you may want to make sure to get 2 females, or 2 males that have grown up together and are proven to get along well. Only get a male and a female if you want to have offspring!
Pet rats are also extremely intelligent little critters and they can be taught to do many tricks! By spending time with them daily and rewarding them with treats after they’ve done something you want, they can pick up quickly on the tricks you want them to do. They can be taught to come when you whistle or call their name, ride around on your shoulder, and stand up to take food from your fingers!
You will want to make sure your rat gets plenty of exercise as well. If they are very tame and handled often, there’s a good chance you will feel completely comfortable letting them run around the room, provided it is safe and there are not other animals around who could harm them. You also should make sure there is no way they could escape outside – which could be perilous for them! There are also exercise wheels available at pet stores that rats just love to run on!
You will want to watch out for any sign of problems – such as breathing problems, diarrhea, or lice, mites, or fleas. They are prone to getting respiratory infections as they get older, and if their cage is not kept clean it can be easier for them to attract parasites. There are various ways to handle these problems if they do occur.
By taking good care of your pet rat, you can have a wonderful, fun, and healthy pet for 2-3 years! They are relatively inexpensive as long as they are kept healthy, and they will give you much satisfaction.
This is a great pet, and to learn more about pet rats, see this pet rat page.
Jasmine is a team member at Animal-World and has contributed many articles and write-ups.