I just love it out here! But don’t take your eyes off of me. I might scurry off ‘cuz I’m such a curious rat! Even better ~ put me on a leash.
Click here to find out how to safely entertain your rats!
Male rats frequently grow into delightfully calm couch potatoes. While the girls are off exploring, the boys relax and settle in for a good belly scratch.
Click here! for a detailed Guide to Buy Pet Rats.
Ready to Buy Pet Rats?
This handy guide to buy pet rats is chock full o’ tips!
(Click here for the short version: Rat Guide Checklist)
Do you have allergies? Don’t lose heart!
Hairless rats might be just the answer for you! This variety is selectively bred to remove or reduce symptoms for those with pesky allergies.
These lovable rodents are missing their coats so allergens can’t stick to their fur. And since their skin is easily accessible, you can keep dander in check with a little bathing and moisturizing.
Rex rats also offer promising results. People with allergies have reported that they have no symptoms with the Rex rats, while rats with standard fur gave them irksome bumps and rashes.
Sniffly around shavings? There are many choices for bedding. We don’t have allergies, but one of our pet rats sure does.
Lacy is super sensitive to all woods so we use a little Carefresh bedding on the cage floor. We also make simple hammocks out of polar fleece for the lofty spaces, and poke rags in assorted cubbies. She couldn’t be happier and we just toss her many blankets into the laundry. We don’t have extra smell troubles; the once a week cleaning is all that’s needed.
One Rat? Or Two? Buy pet rats in pairs!
Don’t break this rule unless you have a LOT of time to spend with your small pet! When you can’t be with him, a rat is happiest with a rat buddy.
These intriguing critters are social animals, and as much as they thrive on attention from people, life is not complete without a friend of their own kind… Someone to clean out their ears (yum!), to snuggle with for warmth & to pass lonely days.
While you’re unavailable – during school or work time, or taking a snooze, or out munching pizza – they’re busily grooming or playing little rat wrestling games.
Pet rats are also smart critters which makes them prone to boredom and listlessness when isolated. An otherwise healthy rat can pine away when left alone, becoming depressed and vulnerable to getting sick.
With more than one rat, the burden isn’t as great on you to fill their waking hours. Your rats will entertain themselves and still readily include you in their friendship when you give them their daily dose of attention. Buy pet rats a buddy to make life more enjoyable for all!
Would You Choose Males or Females? Mellow vs adventurous!
Eager, spry and adventurous, female rats are a good pick if you want to try your hand at rat training. They learn quickly.
Their inquisitive and mischievous personalities can make them distractible though, so be ready to practice patience with their antics!
Females are more petite than males and also have less smell. (The boys like to mark out their territory, a feature that can be reduced by neutering.)
Fertile girls are prone to getting tumors. But if you spay your gals, this risk goes down to only 4%!
Male rats frequently grow into delightfully calm couch potatoes. While the girls are off exploring, the boys relax and settle in for a good belly scratch. Ah, devoted lap buddies! Not surprisingly, an altered male is even more easy-going than the usual mellow chap.
Both males and females, young or old, are sure to satisfy with their affectionate kisses and clever play. Be prepared to melt as you discover the treat of owning your own remarkable pet rats.
Or a Mixture of Both Boys and Girls? Think carefully!
Pet rats will busy themselves with reproducing if you mix and match the genders! Breeding rats sounds easy, but to do it well requires time and knowledge. It is not for the faint of heart!
Thoughts to consider when you buy pet rats:
- A female rat can have up to twelve babies every four weeks! Do you have space for this many rambunctious sweeties?
- Do you have a separate place to house momma and her baby rats to keep them safe?
- And another separate cage for young males when they are able to reproduce too?
- Do you know the extra nutritional requirements for pregnant rats and their growing rat pups?
- Do you have time to find good homes for 12 precious rat babies?
- Do you have the nerve to deal with a mom who might eat her babies?
- Will you responsibly stop breeding a female rat who has unfriendly or sickly rat babies?
- Do you have separate quarters to house your excitable males so your weary mom can enjoy a break from motherhood? Continuous breeding will shorten her lifespan.
As fun as it sounds to have a boy and a girl for an occasional little rat pup, owning a rat couple comes with many challenges and much responsibility. It can be thrilling and rewarding, yet mixed with times of heartache.
Consider looking further into the details about breeding rats if you plan to add such excitement to your life! Or think about sterilizing your honeymooners.
Health Matters! You only get 2-3 years!
One of the few downsides to rats is their short lifespan. They only live an average of 2-3 years. With good health and great nutrition, you can extend their life to 4-5 years. Choose to buy pet rats with good health!
Positive signs to look for:
- alert and inquisitive,
- quick confident movements,
- smooth hair that lays neatly,
(unless of course he’s hairless!)
- slightly plump little belly,
- streamlined and sleek body,
(no humps or bumps)
- clear dry nose and ears,
- and sweet bright eyes.
Unfortunately, pet rats are susceptible to an incurable rat disease called Mycoplasma Bacteria. It’s like a bad flu to your little rat. Listen closely for the telltale noisy breathing.
If you bring home a sick rat, you put all of your other rats at risk! (They could even die.) When you buy pet rats, quarantine them for two weeks away from air vents that might leak the disease to your other rats.
Symptoms of disease to avoid when you buy pet rats:
- hunching over like he’s old, cold and frail,
- too lightweight for his size,
(He should have a little heft to him even when he’s young.)
- multiple sneezes or worse – wheezing like he has asthma,
(Don’t confuse this with the normal chattering of a happy rat, contentedly grinding his teeth.)
- dull eyes when he should look curious,
- droopy, uninterested attitude,
- scruffy coat with fur tweaking out oddly,
(not the fun curls of a Rex rat)
- watery-looking eyes or ears,
- and odd lumps and bumps (possibly tumors).
Your intuition will guide you well when it’s time to buy pet rats!
Does temperament matter?
Depends on your patience and skill.
If you want to play with your rats right away, choose friendly, confident, and inquisitive rats. You’ll get to jump right into enjoying the camaraderie of your new small house pets.
If you are tempted to take in a shy rat, be prepared to spend several months helping him gain confidence. We purchased our sweet Jiya from a snake food vendor. (I would not typically recommend this!) She would cling for dear life to my daughter’s neck and hide trembling in her hair.
We fondly called her “pancake girl” because in her pitiful fear she flattened like a skinny flapjack to any surface. In the wild, little prey critters press their bodies to the ground so their shadows disappear. It makes it harder for hunters to spot them.
Over time, Jiya’s real and enchanting personality has emerged. While her wild-eyed tendencies still lie under the surface, she now showers us with kisses and waddles over to greet us at the cage door when we come home.
She still doesn’t stray far when we let her out on the floor, but what she lacks in spunk, she makes up for in cuddles. She’s not at ease out in the open so training isn’t fun for her, but there’s much more to life than performing.
Each pet rat will have his own unique outlook on life. When you buy pet rats, anticipate an enjoyable journey of discovery.
Young or old? Choose temperament and health over youth.
If given a choice between a skittish 5-week-old baby or a docile older teenager, I’d have a hard time choosing. Health would rank first, then temperament. A social rat would be easier to make friends with, but I have a soft spot for the underdog.
We let a little emotion guide us when we buy pet rats. They come in so many wrappers – so many fancy pet rat varieties, an assortment of personality styles, countless rat backgrounds (rescued, well-bred, older) – it’s difficult to choose purely on sound logic.
Decide if you’re up for the challenge and relax whatever your choice. Relish the adventure as you discover your amazing and talented pet rats!
Pet Store? Hmmm… Not usually.
We tend to shy away from pet stores. As much as they aim to be informed, many times they present wrong information. For example, they might advise that rats won’t bond to you if they have a rat buddy. Experience shows this simply isn’t true.
If a store doesn’t raise its own rats, it can’t have control over early care or interactions. Were the little darlings held at the crucial 3-6 week time? Were mom and babies fed a nutritious diet? Are the rats bred selectively for friendly personalities and health? Do all the sexes live together, breeding carelessly and frequently? Ack!
Some pet stores raise their own rats but are obliged to offer them to snake owners as well. Realizing that snakes need to eat too… These rats typically aren’t given the extra handling care.
Is it okay to buy pet rats from a place where you can’t know their history?
Pet stores are convenient. And some of them are informed and do buy pet rats from responsible local families who carefully raise their critters. In the end, most rats will flourish with your love and patience. You can’t change their past, but you can make a huge difference in their future.
What about Purchasing from a Breeder? The safest option.
Responsible pet rat breeders mate their best rats. They look for health and sleek body shape, affectionate outgoing personality and specific breed and color markings.
They will pull a female from their breeding program if her babies are not up to snuff. They have the knowledge to give their rat pups the best care.
The babies are worth the wait! They will be yours at the perfect age, about five weeks old, and will have a strong sturdy start in life. This is by far the safest route for acquiring your pet rats.
You might have to wait a bit since they don’t breed as often. And many breeders require you to sign that you will give the babies back if you ever don’t want them.
Have you considered a rescue rat? Breeders often run across unwanted pet rats that need a safe home. Their hearts are soft for these munchkins, and they understand their special needs. Trust the breeder to help guide you through the process of adopting pet rats.
Ask questions. Take your time. Have fun!
Many pet rats find their way into rat rescue places. Be aware that these little ones usually need extra care. Maybe they just need a safe place for a fresh start. Then again, they might need some vet care.
Not all rescue facilities have experience with pet rats. Some are more skilled at helping dogs and cats and somehow find themselves with an odd assortment of needy small animal pets. Sometimes they’re overburdened with so many responsibilities.
Typically, their hearts are in the right spot. You might consider helping out and pass along your knowledge in the process.
For rescued rats, it’s amazing what a little TLC will do to brighten their eyes and perk up their spirits. Or what a little rat can do to cheer up our outlook and rally our morale!
Buy pet rats? Or adopt!
Conclusion? You can’t go wrong!
So many choices! Now that you know how to care for pet rats and what to look for when you buy pet rats, start hunting. You can print out a quick Rat Guide Checklist so the main points are handy when you’re shopping.
Remember it’s supposed to be fun! When you buy pet rats, don’t worry about finding perfect little critters. It’s hard to go wrong with these resilient, fun-loving, affectionate and intelligent creatures.
Make your decision.
Bring them home.
Start the adventure with your new little pals!