Rats as Pets: 11 Reasons Why They’re The Best Companions

For many people, rats are not the first animal they think of when they decide to get a pet. This is a shame because rats are actually great companions. In my opinion, they’re one of the best pets for many people. They’re smart, social, affectionate, and cheap to boot!

Today, we’re going to take a look at the top 11 reasons why rats are excellent pets and why you should consider getting one as your next companion. Let’s dig in!

Prefer a video over reading? We’ve got you covered:

1. Rats are highly intelligent

Rats are among the smartest creatures on earth. They’re often considered as one of the top 10 smartest animals on the planet. Their intelligence allows them to learn tricks, understand concepts, and form strong bonds with their owner. This is one of the reasons they’re so fun to have as pets. You can teach your rat all sorts of tricks, such as teaching them how to solve a maze, having them come to you when you call their name, and much more!

2. Rats are very social

One of the most important things about a pet is its ability to be social. In nature, rats live in large groups that can consist of over 150 individuals. These groups have intricate social structures which give rats highly advanced social skills. Because of their social nature, it’s very easy for them to adapt to life as pets.

Their social nature makes them much more receptive to being handled and rats really like spending time with their owners. They’re very affectionate little rodents that enjoy spending the evening on the couch with you.

However, because rats are so social, it’s essential that you house them with other rats. You might think that you have what it takes to fulfill all their social needs, but that’s not possible for a human. They need rat buddies to keep them company.

3. Pet rats are cheap

Rats are very cheap. Unlike dogs or cats, which can cost an arm and a leg, a rat can be obtained from a breeder for around $20. Because rats are so cheap, it makes them accessible to almost anyone.

Of course, you do have to take into account that there are monthly costs as well, such as the cost of food, bedding, toy replacements, and vet bills. However, pet rats are still among the cheapest animals you can possibly own.

4. These little rodents are extremely playful

If there’s one thing that rats love, it’s playing. They highly enjoy learning tricks, playing games, and learning commands. As previously mentioned, they’re also very intelligent so the number of tricks they can learn might surprise you. Take a look at this video and you’ll see some of the amazing tricks they’re capable of learning.

If you take the time and are patient enough, and of course reward them with treats, rats are capable of learning almost anything.

They also enjoy playing with their cage mates quite a bit. This makes simply observing them a lot of fun too. You’ll get to witness their dynamic social structure, playful interactions, and interesting behavior.

5. Rats are incredibly clean pets

Rats unfortunately have an unfair stereotype of being dirty, unclean animals. This stereotype got attributed to them long ago and they’ve struggled to shed the stigma. It’s unfortunate because it’s completely false. Rats are extremely clean animals that spend a large part of their day grooming themselves and others. In fact, rats are such clean animals that you do not even need to groom them – they take care of it themselves! 

In addition, rats even go to the bathroom. Unlike most other rodents, rats do not release themselves all over their enclosure. They’re smart enough to use a litter box which makes cleaning their cage a lot easier.

6. There are many different varieties & colors

a dumbo rat, one of the most popular rat varieties (notice the characteristic ears!)

Did you know that there’s a large variety of rats to choose from? They’re all part of the same breed, the Fancy rat, but the varieties really differ from one another. Here is a list of the pet rat varieties that you can choose from:

Pet Rat Varieties 🐀

In addition, rats come in a wide range of different colors and patterns, ranging from black to white and everything in between, giving prospective rat owners a huge array of choices when picking out their new companion.

7. You can share your food with them

Rats are omnivores meaning that they can eat both plant-based as well as animal-based products. In other words, they like a good piece of meat just as much as a delicious piece of vegetable.

In addition, pet rats are not picky eaters. They’ll eat almost anything you offer them. Of course, you do have to exercise caution and feed them only the foods that are good for them, but feeding your rats is one of the most fun parts of owning them.

Because rats can eat so many different kinds of food it’s a whole lot of fun to discover what they do and do not like. Whenever you’re eating something, you can almost always share it with your rat (do make sure that you look up whether they can eat it first!).

All rats have their own unique preferences when it comes to food, so the exploration process is a great way to bond with them as well.

8. Pet rats almost never bite

Rats are not aggressive at all. Compared to other rodents such as hamsters, they hardly ever bite. The only time rats will bite is if they feel threatened, which they shouldn’t feel if you’ve properly tamed them and bonded with them.

Part of the reason why rats almost never bite their owners is that their high intelligence and social nature allow them to distinguish friend from foe. They know that you are their friend and that you will not harm them, so there is no reason for them to bite you. They want to remain friends with you just as you want to remain friends with them. The relationship between humans and pet rats is very mutual, something that can’t be said for every pet.

9. Rats are pocket-sized pets

Because of their small size, pet rats are excellent for those who live in apartments or other smaller places. Their cage does not take up a whole lot of space and can easily be moved around.

Of course, this does not mean that rats are only a good fit for those who live in small spaces, they also love living in bigger houses! It just means that, unlike bigger pets, such as dogs, rats can do very well as pets for people who live in smaller places.

10. Rats as pets are relatively low maintenance

Of course, no pet is truly low maintenance. They all need love, attention, cleaning, and feeding. However, compared to other pet animals such as dogs, rats can definitely be classified as low-maintenance. The fact that they groom themselves, have a non-demanding diet, and have cage-mates to keep them company all mean that there’s less maintenance involved with taking care of these little critters. 

Nevertheless, you do have to make sure that you take them out of their cage frequently so that they can explore their surroundings and that you give them plenty of mental stimulation to prevent boredom.

11. Rats are great with children

Inge Habex., CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Their inquisitive, social, playful, and affectionate nature makes rats great companions for children. In fact, PetMD recommends rats as the best pet for children between ages 8 and 11. It’s easy to see why. Children are little balls of energy that love discovering the world – rats are a perfect fit for that. They can match their energy and inquisitive nature, making them a natural fit.

Final words

Rats are social, smart, and clean animals that come in a variety of different colors, patterns, and types. Their inquisitive and playful nature makes them excellent pets for anyone who’s looking for a pocket-sized pet that’s not too difficult to take care of.

Giving rats a chance is a great thing to do. It’ll help them get rid of their stigma as unclean animals and show the world what great little pets they really are.

Jesse A.