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AZ_Dawn
06-03-2013, 11:29 PM
It started as a light-hearted discussion of my nephew Tyler's nickname, Shredder (he liked to shred napkins as a baby). Someone mentioned that it would be ironic if, in the future, he wanted a pet turtle - or a pet rat. The inevitable Eww, rats! reaction happened.

Most of my family think rats are disgusting and creepy. Me, I think they have a point about wild rats, but I'm sure domestic rats are probably okay. Plus, I think they look kind of cute.

I wonder, though, what's the appeal of rats as pets. I mean, they're cute, and I hear they're intelligent and friendly, but so are dogs, and dogs live longer. Why do people choose to own an animal that creeps out most of the world and lives only 4 years if well cared-for and lucky?

Thanks!

thebird
06-03-2013, 11:54 PM
Well, rats are easier to care for than dogs, much smaller (good if space is an issue), and generally cost a lot less in terms of food, supplies, and vet visits.

They're not my thing, but I have an aunt who's always had at least one, and she swears they're just the sweetest, smartest animals she's ever had.

Shakesbear
06-03-2013, 11:59 PM
You do not have to take a ratty for a walk, or train it to follow commands. Compared to a dog or cat I think the maintenance of a ratty would be quite cheap. Rats are friendly, intelligent and - believe or not - clean creatures. Not far from where I live there is a roundabout that used to have a rat colony on it - when it rained the ratties used to come out and bath in the rain.

There are loads of people who care for ratties - http://www.rathelp.org/Contacts.html

Lavern08
06-04-2013, 12:15 AM
*Runs outta thread - Creeped out to the max* :flag:

mirandashell
06-04-2013, 12:18 AM
Rats make great pets.

Marian Perera
06-04-2013, 12:25 AM
Why do people choose to own an animal that creeps out most of the world and lives only 4 years if well cared-for and lucky?

I don't care about what most of the world thinks or feels, unless they have verifiable facts backing up their opinion.

So "Chimpanzees don't make good pets, because they're prone to aggression and unpredictability after they become sexually mature" makes sense to me. "Rats are eeew" doesn't.

I wouldn't mind having a pet rat, even if it only lived for four years. I had a Siamese fighting fish who didn't last that long, and I liked him a lot. To this day I'm convinced the rest of the fish finally had enough of his bullying, ganged up on him and pummeled him to death somehow.

veinglory
06-04-2013, 12:27 AM
Pet rats are adorable. They are very intelligent and pro-social (i.e. unlike many pocket pets they actively like people and will show it). If you want to teach them tricks you certainly can.

Shadow_Ferret
06-04-2013, 12:44 AM
I have no idea what the appeal is. Rats are vermin.

veinglory
06-04-2013, 01:00 AM
I have no idea what the appeal is. Rats are vermin.

Says the domesticated polecat ;)

Mclesh
06-04-2013, 01:16 AM
We (Husband, son and I) had a pet rat for two years until he passed away. He was actually a wild rat we caught in the attic using a humane trap. (We catch the rats periodically when we hear them chewing up there and release them in a wilderness area.) This one was different than the others, though. Half his tail was missing; also a thumb. He had a little rip in one ear as if he'd been in a few rumbles. I was holding a piece of cheese in my hand, and I noticed that he'd reach his little paw through the grate. He grabbed it when I offered it to him. He didn't seem afraid of us.

We found a large bird cage to keep him in and grew quite fond of the little guy. He was smart and clean--a medium-sized brown rat with black eyes, so he didn't have that albino look that I'm not fond of.

Anyway, that's the story of Ratty.

I can certainly see their appeal as pets.

asroc
06-04-2013, 01:22 AM
Rats are clever, funny and enormously affectionate. My ratties will come to me and want to be petted, they sit on my shoulder and try to groom me and they sense when I'm upset and climb on me to cuddle. They're active little critters with fascinating behavioral characteristics. I can watch mine play and interact for hours. They're pretty cheap and easy to care for (the most expensive item is a large-enough cage). And they're absolutely adorable.

Btw, if your nephew does eventually decide on rats, please make him get at least two. Rats are pack animals. They need other rats; keeping one alone is cruel.

FluffBunny
06-04-2013, 01:29 AM
I have never owned a rat, but the few pet rats I've met have been charming, friendly, curious, intelligent pets. I live with a lagomorph, though, so who am I to cast the first stone at rodentia? ;)

In answer to, "Why do people choose to own an animal that creeps out most of the world and lives only 4 years if well cared-for and lucky?"--if you were to have told me when I married my husband* that I could have 4 years with him or lifetime with someone else, I would've chosen him. We love who we love for however long we're lucky enough to have them in our lives. If longevity were the issue, everyone would own tortoises and/or parrots and what a particularly boring world that would be. :)

*who, to the best of my certain knowledge, has never creeped anyone out.

Caitlin Black
06-04-2013, 01:49 AM
This thread has good timing, actually...

A friend of mine at Uni recently got a pet rat, and I dreamt about it not one hour ago. It started out as a normal-sized rat that could somehow walk through screen doors, then grew to the size of a dog.

Erm, yeah, I'm pretty sure most rats don't do that though. :tongue

I've never actually met a pet rat, so I don't have any proper opinions here. However, my biggest concern would be getting bitten. (Which is the same concern I have with cats and dogs, by the way, even though I live with one of each.)

But I guess there's a fundamental part of most living things whereby you don't try to hurt the thing feeding you, as a general rule. So even if my friend's rat decided to bite me if I met him, I'm pretty sure it'd be a playbite, not an "Argh! Kill!" bite.

/ramble

jjdebenedictis
06-04-2013, 01:52 AM
Why do people choose to own an animal that creeps out most of the world...The rest of the world's opinion is not relevant if you love something.

I think snakes are beautiful animals, but I can think of quite a few people who would vehemently disagree with me on that point. I also remember reading an article by a fellow who had nothing but praise for how soft, pretty, and friendly his son's pet tarantula was.

Everyone has a different opinion on what's cute or appealing, but we can all learn to love things that others wouldn't necessarily even like. Rats have sweet little faces and are definitely intelligent and social enough to make great pets. Plus, when they get old, you can feed them to your snake. I totally understand their appeal.

redfalcon
06-04-2013, 01:54 AM
I think kids like them as pets because they are creepy.

asroc
06-04-2013, 01:56 AM
I've never actually met a pet rat, so I don't have any proper opinions here. However, my biggest concern would be getting bitten. (Which is the same concern I have with cats and dogs, by the way, even though I live with one of each.)

But I guess there's a fundamental part of most living things whereby you don't try to hurt the thing feeding you, as a general rule. So even if my friend's rat decided to bite me if I met him, I'm pretty sure it'd be a playbite, not an "Argh! Kill!" bite.

/ramble

Rats only bite when they are scared and feel threatened. As long as they're treated well they aren't aggressive at all. They may nip a bit, because that's one their ways of exploring their surroundings, but that doesn't hurt and it's easy to teach them not to do that to their humans.

Really, they're little sweeties.

Jersey Chick
06-04-2013, 01:59 AM
I want a pet rat. Every time I go to the pet store to get supplies for the other critters in my house (gerbil, hamster, dog) I stop by the rodent tanks for a few minutes to watch all of them. The only thing stopping me is my vehemently anti-rat husband.

From what research I've done (I've never known anyone with a pet rat. :() rats are great pets - smart, affectionate, etc. Sure would beat the psychopath gerbil my daughter has now (he was a lone gerbil and they tend to get a little screwy if they aren't part of a pack.) I don't think they are any creepier than any other pocket-type pet (although, you'd need a big pocket for a rat. :))

Torgo
06-04-2013, 02:16 AM
My friends have had several pet rats and they are intelligent, interesting, cute little critters. They're even heroic (http://www.apopo.org/en/).

ArcticFox
06-04-2013, 02:18 AM
I had two beautiful pet rats. Their names were Justin and Nicodemus. Rats are amazing pets. They are clean, easy to care for, loving, and smart. Domestic rats have about as much in common with wild rats as domestic dogs do with wolves. They are NOT the same.

My two cared for each other. They loved to play games. They loved to be petted. They loved their treats and knew when I gave them treats.

Why would people choose rats over dogs? They are two different animals. Though you may get the same types of things from dogs rats are still not dogs. I have a dog myself now, and while I love her. It is still not the same as having rats. The caring for them may also play a big part. Rats are very easy to care for, and it is very easy to have more than one without too much trouble. They do best in pairs. You can even train them to use a litter box.

Marian Perera
06-04-2013, 02:34 AM
Anyone who wants to see just how affectionate a rat can be, check this out:

Rat loves cat (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7ikm3o5hDks) (though cat barely tolerates rat)

RevanWright
06-04-2013, 02:38 AM
My roommate has 6 white mice. They're endlessly entertaining when they all decide to get on the wheel at once.
We named them Poseidon, UPS Man, Hoboken New Jersey, That Dude, Britney Spears, and The Lord of the Pit.

Brightdreamer
06-04-2013, 04:39 AM
My sister worked at a pet store many years ago, and brought home several "charity cases." We're down to the two cats and the African Gray now, but for a while it was quite a zoo...

The rats always struck me as friendly and very aware/willing to interact with people. I was only ever bitten once, for wearing gloves while cleaning their cage - my own fault, entirely. Those and the chinchillas were probably my favorites, not counting the kitties.

On the other end of the spectrum: hamsters. The most evil, vicious little monsters you can buy are hamsters. My sister used to talk about pulling victims of hamster-on-hamster violence before customers saw them; they were pretty good about decapitations, as I recall.

VP_Benni
06-04-2013, 06:51 AM
Up until a month ago, I had a pet rat (see avatar) (yes, my cat is licking her lips in that picture. No rats were harmed in the making of that avatar) (she got a tumor, unfortunately, and she didn't last long after that). She was probably one of the funniest creatures I've ever seen. I could get her to play with cat toys, I trained her to sleep on a hammock, she loved to climb on my books, and everyone who played with her couldn't find a reason not to love her. I brought her to school with me one day last year and she was swarmed by a bunch of students who said she was the cutest little thing they've ever seen (many of whom were people who said they were squicked out by rats when I first got her. Go figure.) They're intelligent little things and they're extremely lovable once they're given a chance.

She's gone now, but I plan on getting another rat later this month. They're really something. :)

As an added bonus, she only ever bit my little brother. No one but him. And she learned how to scare my cats before they could scare her. Smart little thing. :tongue

~Amber~

AZ_Dawn
06-04-2013, 06:59 AM
I think I get it now. Rats have the same qualities that make dogs great pets, but they're easier to care for, right? Just don't get any ideas about romps in the park or the backyard with them. :D


In answer to, "Why do people choose to own an animal that creeps out most of the world and lives only 4 years if well cared-for and lucky?"--if you were to have told me when I married my husband* that I could have 4 years with him or lifetime with someone else, I would've chosen him. We love who we love for however long we're lucky enough to have them in our lives. If longevity were the issue, everyone would own tortoises and/or parrots and what a particularly boring world that would be. :)
Good point, though I like a bit of longevity in my pets. To put it mildly, I get pretty busted up about pet deaths and don't know if I could handle a death every 3 or 4 years.


Btw, if your nephew does eventually decide on rats, please make him get at least two. Rats are pack animals. They need other rats; keeping one alone is cruel.
Oh, I don't he'll be getting any rats. His parents are definitely dog people, and his mom is one of those Eww, rats people. His cousin (my eldest nephew) has a couple of mice at my ex-BIL's place, though.

WriterTrek
06-04-2013, 07:23 AM
I've heard they're great pets, but I think it might be a little more high maintenance than I'd like. Cleaning out the cages every day and whatnot might not be a lot of work, but I think sooner or later it'd start to grate on me, or I wouldn't spend as much time with them as I should, and so on.

asroc
06-04-2013, 07:24 AM
She's gone now, but I plan on getting another rat later this month. They're really something. :)


Please get two.

It won't cost much more or be more work, but they'll be so much happier. Rats absolutely need the company of other rats. Imagine you would never be able to see or talk to another human being again. It wouldn't matter that all your basic needs are taken care of and you’ve got a strange but lovable friendbeast, you'd hate it. Rats are easy to care for, but they still have certain requirements.

Too many people get one rat, put him in a tiny hamster cage and never take him out except for a few minutes to pet him. Then they're surprised that the rat hides in the corner, chews on the bars, tears out his fur and starts biting. He's bored and lonely. Rats are highly intelligent and highly social. They need stimulation and company. They need to be able to climb and roam around, they need toys, they need distractions and they especially need fellow rats. No human can ever replace the company of another rat.

Sorry for the sermon, but people keeping only one rat is my special pet hate. It's so cruel for no reason.

JulianneQJohnson
06-04-2013, 07:25 AM
I had many sets of rats as pets when I was younger. Eventually my fiancé and I couldn’t take the short lifespan, and went with ferrets instead. (which are completely different, but smallish and quiet pets for an apartment.)

Rats are awesome small animal companions in a world where most small animals do not actually make good pets. They are quiet, friendly, actively seek human interaction, and funny. They are great apartment pets, and good for kids. I had a hamster once. If you woke it up it growled and tried to bite you. It was an awesome pet if you wanted something that preferred staying in its cage and being happiest if it didn’t have to deal with humanity at all. Ditto gerbils. Guinea pigs can be awesome pets, but they are super shy, and need lots of attention to get them affectionate. The same can be said of many dwarf rabbits.

Rats adore you from the moment you walk into the pet store. You wake a rat up and he’s all, hey! Whatcha doing? Wanna play? I never had one bite me, which makes them safer for kids than hamsters and gerbils. They are super easy to take care of, and take up little space. They will happily ride on your shoulder while you take out the trash, or do the dishes. They come in many colors and varieties, though my favorite was always the common hooded. If rats had cute fluffy tails like squirrels, they wouldn’t get such a bad rap.

FluffBunny
06-04-2013, 07:41 AM
Good point, though I like a bit of longevity in my pets. To put it mildly, I get pretty busted up about pet deaths and don't know if I could handle a death every 3 or 4 years.

The point is, it'll always be a crapshoot. Dogs get ill, as do cats, gerbils, you name it. Accidents happen. And there's absolutely no way of knowing how long an individual (including humans) will live. Take dogs, for example--Great Danes, like most of the "giant" breeds, have a short lifespan for a dog, about 6 to 8 years. That's close to the average lifespan of a spayed/neutered house rabbit. However, Hazel, the current longest-lived rabbit, was 16 years of age in 2009.

Our first rabbit together, Quantum, was rescued out of our field where some :censored had dumped her, here in predator central. The vet's best guess was that she was around 3 or 4 years old. She'd never been fixed and it turned out she had uterine cancer. We only got to have her for 6 months, but I wouldn't trade away those 6 months for anything. She learned to binky, loved her treats, raced to greet us and was loved.

Pain, loss and heartbreak are unavoidable; why shut yourself off from the joy no matter how short-lived it may turn out to be? May you find the pet of your dreams, whatever it may be. :) *quietly stuffs the ballot box in favor of rabbits*

VP_Benni
06-04-2013, 07:45 AM
Please get two.

It won't cost much more or be more work, but they'll be so much happier. Rats absolutely need the company of other rats. Imagine you would never be able to see or talk to another human being again. It wouldn't matter that all your basic needs are taken care of and you’ve got a strange but lovable friendbeast, you'd hate it. Rats are easy to care for, but they still have certain requirements.

Too many people get one rat, put him in a tiny hamster cage and never take him out except for a few minutes to pet him. Then they're surprised that the rat hides in the corner, chews on the bars, tears out his fur and starts biting. He's bored and lonely. Rats are highly intelligent and highly social. They need stimulation and company. They need to be able to climb and roam around, they need toys, they need distractions and they especially need fellow rats. No human can ever replace the company of another rat.

Sorry for the sermon, but people keeping only one rat is my special pet hate. It's so cruel for no reason.

I really do wish I could get two, but I really don't have the resources or space. :( When I got my first one I tried to get a second at the same time, but I really wasn't able to, mostly because of space and parents... I do take good care of my rats and give them lots of attention, toys, climbing things, cats for company... Getting a second rat isn't quite the same as getting other things for them. You are right, though, more than one is better for them, and I still wish I could have gotten two when I got my first.

When I go in to get a new one later in the month, I'll try to talk my mom into letting me get two. Not sure if it'll work, but I'll do what I can about it. Thanks.

~Amber~

ArcticFox
06-04-2013, 09:33 AM
Two really do NOT require more than one really.

Pandora S
07-09-2013, 06:19 PM
I've owned so many kinds of animals in my lifetime, never rats but hamsters,
mice, and gerbils, bunnies along with reptiles, birds, dogs, cats. My small pets
were great fun and I think nurturing and loving is why people own pets.
The enjoyment of being needed, of being bonded with another living species
and learning about them.We probably all have our favorites.

Now we have two dogs but my yard crew, my wildlife, keep me very busy
and I know they need me. I come into their world to provide and what I take
I can't see but it fills me. Caring is so very fulfilling.