Rats make interesting pets. They are intelligent, learning how to solve puzzles based on food and this can be used to train them to show their dexterity and versatility in performing a variety of tasks.
They are very sociable and like to interact with their owners, enjoying being held if used to it from being young and enjoy being played with. Rats are also very sociable with each other and it is common for more than one to be kept in the same cage as pets.
Although white rats are the most popular as pets, as they have gained in popularity a wide variety of colours have become available and so classification systems have been developed to establish quality breeding standards.
Rats will eat almost anything but care should be taken to give them a balanced diet to keep them healthy. They love fruit and vegetables (potatoes in any form are a favourite) but this should be balanced with a good amount of rat food. The kibble type of rat food, similar to dry dog food is especially useful as often it is hard which both helps check the continuous growth of the rat’s teeth as well as indulging one of their favourite activities, chewing.
Vitamin supplements are also useful to help maintain your rat’s health. These are often supplied in a liquid form so that they can be added to your pet’s drinking water.
Domesticated rats are usually good at keeping clean and if they are provided with a clean environment, good diet and maintained at a reasonably stable temperature, they will thrive.
The rat’s coat provides the best guide to its health. It should be sleek and shiny. As the owner, it is worth keeping a daily watch on your pet’s condition. Excessive scratching or the appearance of bald patches or scabs, listlessness and dull eyes, tilting of the head to one side, mucous or excessive sneezing are some indications of possible illness. If you lack experience with rats, a trip to the vet will be required.
Problems with the rat’s fur are often mites or lice which can be treated. An allergy can also be the cause, which again can be diagnosed and treated. Infections of various types are also fairly easily treated if diagnosed early enough. Hence the need to observe them regularly.
Generally though, rats make a healthy, active and enjoyable pet.