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To think about getting a pet rat for DD (10)

(50 Posts)
WhitePhantom Fri 19-Aug-16 11:40:51


DD is pet mad and is longing to get an interactive pet that's "just hers" (we have a dog, a cat and 5 hens, and she has a fish tank in her room). She asked about a mouse but I've also heard that rats make great pets.

I've read up on it and they sound good, and she'd be good to take care of it / them - I've read that they're very social animals and love company).

Have any experience of keeping them? Is it a good idea, what are the pitfalls, what do I need to know?


Ricecreespees Fri 19-Aug-16 11:42:32

YANBU but I'd just get a hamster for her as I'm terrified of rats!

twinkletoedelephant Fri 19-Aug-16 11:44:46

Dh had rats when he was young and we got dd a couple as a pet. They were very intelligent could fetch and very much like a snuggle we got girls as the smell less in fact didn't really smell at all they were allowed the run if her room and would snooze in her hoodie.... Until dh become so severely allergic it hospitalised him, and stopped him working in London..the underground would set him off
They are great pets

Eirabach378 Fri 19-Aug-16 11:45:46

I used to breed rats and had many pet rats. They make wonderful pets. One that I had from a baby I trained to play fetch and she would come to her name. They love to live in pairs or more and watching then interact is one of the best parts of having a rat. I wpuld recommend getting them from somewhere like pets4homes where they have been bred and handled daily and you can meet the family . The ones from pets at home can be a gamble as the breeder may not have handled them much. The first 8 weeks of their life makes a huge difference in terms of how friendly they are.

They can have quite scratchy claws but mine never bit. smile

PuntasticUsername Fri 19-Aug-16 11:50:17

YANBU, rats are BRILLIANT pets - so much better than hamsters. Much more friendly, intelligent, less bitey. If you can get past the tails (I never minded them, but it's a show-stopper for some, and I can understand why!), they're the best small pet you can have imo.

Floralnomad Fri 19-Aug-16 11:50:17

Rats are far and away the best small pet for children , we have had a few sets and never had any that have bitten . Do get 2/3 though as they are very social animals , it doesn't make them any less friendly that they have ratty company and they like to curl up in a heap to sleep .

LBOCS2 Fri 19-Aug-16 11:52:41

They're fab pets but get a pair. Really great idea.

takemetomars Fri 19-Aug-16 11:52:43

Yes, I used to keep rats. Firstly you need to get more than one unless you are prepared to spend lots of time with it. Choose a sex - boys are more cuddly and affectionate but they get BIG and smell slightly more, girls tend to be more active.
They SMELL, really smeall and need cleaning frequently. They need space and time to free range. They need a cage with lots to do in it - hammocks, ropes, walkways etc.
They tend to get tumours and die at about age 2-3..
I would say no to rats as a pet for small children for welfare reasons. You will get plenty of answers telling you that what I have said they need for happy healthy lives is not necessary but please think of the welfare of rats before you make your decision.
If you go ahead, DON'T buy from pets at home, you need to buy from a breeder who has handled and socialised the rats otherwise they will be nippy and difficult to handle. When you get them, they need plenty of handling so that they are fully socialised.
Female rats constantly dribble urine. They will pee/poo anywhere including in their food and on each other whilst sleeping. They really are not very hygenic at all!
They are great fun and quite rewarding but hard work for a 10 year old - you will end up doing the cleaning I suspect.
I enjoyed my rats but would not have them again and my husband HATED the smell.

MermaidTears Fri 19-Aug-16 12:06:07

Excellent friendly pets but get two or three. Often fiver each on pets 4 homes.
Lots and lots of handling at the beginning!
Big cage and lots of toys needed.

KatsutheClockworkOctopus Fri 19-Aug-16 12:12:47

Agree with all the above - they are lovely friendly little pets if you socialise them properly.

Boysnme Fri 19-Aug-16 12:18:17

When my sister was looking for a pet for her kids, a vet friend recommended rats and said they were one of the best pets for kids

NeedACleverNN Fri 19-Aug-16 12:21:39

Rats are a fabulous idea

I second getting more than one. Two-four would be ideal. Not from a pet shop. Get a properly bred one.

Nice big enclosure. The bigger the better

Crazycatladyloz82 Fri 19-Aug-16 12:25:52

I had 2 pet rats as a child. They were so clean and you never ever smelt their cages (unlike the hamsters we had). They used to go around the house sleeping in my DMs shirt pockets or sitting on her shoulders. Just don't do what my DM would do and go shopping and forget they were in her pocket!

SawdustInMyHair Fri 19-Aug-16 12:27:42

You just have to develop a good technique for when they sit on the back of your neck and you can't reach them!

givemushypeasachance Fri 19-Aug-16 12:29:07

I had a pet rat as a teenager and my sister still has dumbo rats now. They're fab - much easier and more fun to interact with than hamsters, never got why they're seen as a default "first pet".

BarbarianMum Fri 19-Aug-16 12:29:34

<<They were so clean and you never ever smelt their cages>>

Sorry to take issue with this but my friend had 2 males rats and their cage stank. Maybe with frequent cleaning they don't smell but I remember moving them/it to the hallway whenever I stayed overnight with her because the smell in the living room was gross.

Birdsgottafly Fri 19-Aug-16 12:30:29

I agree with what's been said about them making great pets, but please get two.

Otherwise your keeping it in solitary confinement, they need to interact with other rats, to be fully happy and mentally well.

ButtercreamIcing Fri 19-Aug-16 12:31:24

I went to school with a boy who had pet rats, and I was totally in love with them. They rode around on my shoulder when I went round for tea. As others have said, get a pair.

Bear in mind that their urine smells quite strong.. I think male might be worse.

Do research cages properly. A lot of places recommend a tank so that they can burrow. Make sure they aren't walking on bars as these can cause foot injury.

Rat fancier sites will help you.

Writerwannabe83 Fri 19-Aug-16 12:33:46

I had rats when I was younger and they were the most wonderful pets, so affectionate and gentle.

As has been said, invest in a bigger cage and get two as they are very social animals and need company.

Rats are definitely a good choice for a pet. I had gerbils and hamsters throughout my childhood too but my rats were easily my favourites.

BestZebbie Fri 19-Aug-16 12:39:14

Rats are awesome, go for it.
Do be aware that you may get into a cycle of one rat dying with a year still to go on the other, so you buy a new rat to keep the first one company, then that dies and you need another companion rat for the younger one who is now alone...forever. ;-)

raviolidreaming Fri 19-Aug-16 12:40:18

Rats make wonderful pets.

hamsters are evil and bite

haggisaggis Fri 19-Aug-16 12:42:51

We had pet rats for a while - all males. They did need frequent cleaning out but they really weren't that smelly. We did get ours from Pets at Home because at the time we didn't know any better - please look for a breeder instead. You must get more than one - they're so social and you need to be prepared to let them out of the cage a lot to "free range" (check out the fancy rats forum for loads & loads of info). You will end up doing most of the care so be prepared for it. The cages are large and cleaning out takes a while.
I did enjoy ours - they all died when they were around 2 years old - but wouldn't have any more as they were quite hard work (and apart from handle them occasionally the dc did little of the work)

RattieOfCatan Fri 19-Aug-16 12:51:51

Rats are wonderful. I have 9 currently! Both boys and girls smile you're right in that they are socialable, they need the company of other rats, three is a good number to start with IMO. They're really clean creatures and great fun, but they require a lot of attention. You cannot just leave them in the cage all day, they ideally need at least an hour out every day. They are great for kids to be around but you have to be aware that you will likely need to treat them as yours really. They are very fun and all have their own little personalities.

If you get rats I would say dont get them from a pet shop at all, look for a good, family friendly breeder. Pet shops often get their rats from rodent farms, they are horrendous places. The NFRS has a list of their accredited breeders, but you may be able to find ones more local to you who aren't on that list. My breeder was but isn't any more, we are relocating in a few weeks and be looking at 3hr+ round trips to get rats from nfrs breeders (or a 6hr round trip from my current breeder! Which will happen occasionally as she breeds very big and squishy lovelies!) from that point! But I'll be living a bit of a dead zone on the breeder front! Many good breeders will have waiting lists and may question you about the home they are sending their rats too, that's a good thing.

Rats need a lot of space too, you can't just walk into a pet shop and pick up a cage usually as they just aren't big enough. The Jenny cage is usually the token cage a pet shop may stock and they would do for a pair/trio but ideally you want something bigger. Aviaries are good alternatives to normal rodent cages and they good height, rats are great climbers whilst floor space is important, height is equally important. You also ideally have a second, single level packaway cage in case one needs to be separated for injuries or operations.

Tumours are common in rats, especially females. It's worth knowing before getting them along with the fact that they are prone to respiratory illnesses. So you will want to register with a vet who has small animal practitioners, preferably even a rodentologist if you can find one anywhere!

RattieOfCatan Fri 19-Aug-16 12:55:32

I will add that they are addictive, DH and I started with two in January 2014, we've slowly aquired more (and lost four along the way, two rescues, one of our original pair and a special needs boy).

Godotsarrived Fri 19-Aug-16 12:58:17

Rats are fabulous animals. Make great pets and are really friendly if handled correctly and socialised. Please get 2 though. They need company. I miss my rats.

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