Are Rats the right pets for you!
If you are looking for a small pet that can bring you lots of joy,
laughter and love, then consider adding rats to your family! They
do not require a lot of care, but you should know that they have
requirements like all animals, and you need to commit to caring
for them throughout their entire lives - 2-3 years or maybe a little
longer. This means providing ample cage space, proper and regular
cleaning, proper food and clean water, spending time with them daily
and taking them to the veterinarian like you would your dog or cat
if or when illness appears. If you are not willing to be a responsible
rat owner and follow the simple requirements for rat care, then
please don't bother getting rats!
Males or Females?
I frequently am asked which gender makes the better pets. That
all comes down to your preference. Both genders make excellent pets!
Each gender demonstrates a different set of biological behaviors
and characteristics. However, there are exceptions found in both
genders as well.
Rats continually mark their territory. They mark their cage, and
any other place they hang out be it, their hammock or your bed,
couch or even YOU. Rats don't discriminate! They don't have much
control of their little bladders. This is why rat owners cover the
furniture and even themselves when their rats come out to play or
be held. Rats can to some degree have control over their bowels.
Both genders can be trained to poop in a litter box.
Females, by nature are more active than males, always exploring,
and may do so throughout their lifetime. I call them "busy."
They are more adventurous than males and because of this are generally
known to be easier to train to do tricks. They may stop for a moment
to say hello and get a few "scritches"or brief petting
from you, and then resume their playing and exploring. If you prefer
a curious active pet, a female may be a great choice. Typically,
they mark less than the males and some people claim they are cleaner
overall (in their cage, etc), but I have not seen much difference
between my males and females. Females usually don't have much of
a problem accepting new cage mates, but they may be a little scuffling.
Young rats are always easiest to introduce to adults.
What can be seen as a drawback with females is that they can be
prone to tumors, especially as they get older. (I do try to breed
away from it, but there are no guarantees.) Spaying might help prevent
mammary tumors. Some breeders claim that certain diets can prevent
tumors. I'm still researching this.
Males. When young males are curious, like to explore and can be playful.
As adults they are usually much more laid back and likely to curl up
on your lap and cuddle. When getting free time, my males often will follow
me where ever I go to sit. I have had males act so
much like a lap dog that I've called them my "pocket dogs!"
So if you are looking for rats to spend more time visiting you,
then males are for you.
Males are typically much larger than females.
Some males can reach up to 2 lbs or more! The main drawbacks to
males are that they tend to urine mark more
than females as they walk. It may be just a drop or two or may turn
out to be more of a stream. If you are very sqeamish about your
ratties peeing on you then males may not be for you afterall. The
other drawback is that if you have to introduce adult males to each
other there can be some severe fighting, and they may never get
along. It is always best to bring young rats in as new companions,
not other adults. Young males are not usually seen as threats to
the adults so may be accepted easier. (ALWAYS introduce new rats
under supervision!) Once they are 3-4 months old and their hormones
start to kick in there can be problems with introductions. But males
that are raised together will generally be friends for life. If
a lot of fighting continues then neutering the most agressive or
all them often puts an end to it. Neutering also helps reduce or
totally eliminate the musky odor and "Buck grease" that
can occur on some males. Buck grease is an orangish skin discharge
associated with too much testosterone.
It may seem that males have more issues, but they more than make
up for it when they are sitting with you, giving you kisses, grooming
you and just being their overall loving selves!
Remember, there are exceptions to the rule about genders. There
are some busy boy rats, and some calm girl rats that like to sit
with you. I have found Both can make excellent "shoulder"