Lola’s Ramblings: Why Rats make Great Pets

Posted May 14, 2015 by Lola in Lola's Ramblings / 36 Comments


Lola’s Rambings is a feature on Lola’s Review where I talk about me. Usually these posts are everything that doesn’t fall under any standard header, like blog tours, book blitzes, cover reveals or reviews. Lola’s Ramblings posts are are personal discussions of a certain topic. Sometimes about book related topics and sometimes about non-book related topics. This feature was previously known as About Me. The banner for this feature is designed by Michelle from Limabean Design.

I’ve been thinking of doing some rat related posts on my blog for a while, but in the end I decided against making a special feature for this and instead include them in my Lola’s ramblings posts now and then if I feel like it. As you probably know we currently have two pet rats: Snickers and Smarties. We had two more Pita and Skittles, but they passed away. Before we got rats I never really considered them as pets, the my boyfriend borught the idea up and after doing some research I knew I wanted pet rats, after havign pet rats for more than two years now I can say I love having rats as pets and I thought it would be fun to explain why.

Why rats make great pets


  • Cute and loving. They are cute and adorable and I can’t say no to them or stay angry at them for long, do I even need to explain this one? I love watching them explore their cage or sleep. Or taking pictures with them to share here on my blog. I just love our rats to much and you get a lot of love back from them.
  • Smart. They are smart pets and you can even learn them tricks, just like dogs. We didn’t put much time in this with our rats as it requires quite some time to learn them things, but in their behavior you notice how smart they are. Every tuesday I clean their cage and it’s like they know this and realize when it’s time for their cage to get cleaned, if I clean their cage on another for some reason they seem to know this or find it a reason to make even more of a mess out of their. They also recognize our voices and if you call them they often come running towards you. I take them out of the cage every evenign to sit with me when I read and they know this and some days when I am a bit later they are already waiting for me at the door of their cage.
  • Love to cuddle. Especially once rats get older, nearing the two years old, they become more calmer and they love to cuddle. Their favourite spot is in my hood of my sweaters or against my sides. They also like sitting or sleeping on my lap. When I read with them close, they often cuddle up against my legs.
  • Active and playfull. Especially younger rats are very active and playfull, they seem to have an endless supply of energy and they love running around and exploring new spaces. You have to make sure to change things around in their cage now and then so they don’t get bored.
  • Small. They are small pets which means you can easily carry them around or even do the laundry or other household tasks while they sit with you. Just make sure they don’t fall out of your clothes.
  • Easy to Care for. Beside cleaning the cage they are easy to care for. They need fresh food and water now and then and we get them out of the cage daily.
  • Loyal. They are very loyal pets and they bond with their humans. Like I mentioned before they recognize your voices and are always there for you. They trust their humans unconditionally and it’s powerfull to see how they can walk over your arm, knowing you won’t let them fall and trusting in that completely.
  • Clean. Rats are very clean creatures and clena themselves often, they really take time to clean themselves. We also put them in the bath once a week, but that isn’t strictly necessary.
  • You can Potty Train them. If you have a rat toilet you can learn them to pee and poop in there. Our rats always poop in their toilets, although peeing isn’t 100% trainable and they will do that on other places as well. We use different bedding in the toilets so they know the difference with normal bedding. This makes it easier to clean their cage and it means that if you get them out of the cage the chances are lower they will pee or poop on you.
  • Less expensive than bigger animals. While a trip to the vet can still be expensive, it’s less expensive than with larger pets like ctas or dogs. It is recommmended you keep in mind the costs can still get expensive and if you need multiple vet visits you still end up with a high bill.

Things to keep in mind when buying a pet rat

Smarties and mount-lots-of-cloth-pieces

  • They don’t live long. This can be a good thing or a bad thing depending on your perspective. If you aren’t sure rats are for you, they live short enough to give them a try. It’s also a sad thing as if you grow to love your pets it’s hard to lose them so soon. I really bond with our rats and it’s just so sad they don’t live longer, it can be hard to know that if you buy 4 rats now you probably lose them all in the next 3 years. And this is one of the hardest things of having rats, if you have a cat it will live a long time, but rats only have very short lives, which makes the time spent with them even more precious. Even though losing them is hard, the time sent with them makes it worth it.
  • They get sick sometimes. I think it’s important to know this beforehand nad are aware of the symptoms. Female rats usually get at least one tumor in their life. All of our four rats, except for Skittles who passed away when she was still pretty young, has had at least one tummor. At this point Snickers has had two tumors, Smarties has had one and Pita had 3 of them. So yeah the chance that female rats get tumor is high, but they are usually easy to remove if you notice them early and got to the vet with them. We check our rats for bumps often, so that we notice it as soon possible when they do have a tumor, you really learn to recognize them after a few rats had a tumor. Other frequent sickness involve their respiratory system or ear infections.
  • Buy them from a rattery, not from a pet store. There are many horror stories on the internet about people getting pets from pet stores, who turned out to be pregnant or they got the wrong gender rat. Also rat is pet stores usually sit in tiny cages and aren’t cared for well, they are bred for the amount, not for their characters or health. Although I am sure there are some pet stores who do things right, as far as I know it’s better to get a rat from a rattery if possible.
  • Do your research. Make sure you know what type of bedding to buy as they have very sensitive noses and can’t stand all types of bedding. Know what to feed them and which foods they can’t eat. Know what kind of cage to get them, we have a ferret cage as those are bigger, but if you don’t have a lot of rats a smaller cage works too. And make sure the bar spacing isn’t too big as rittens can get through them, we bought a nice rat cage, but it turned out the rittens could just walk throguh the bars with ease. Know the signs of a sick rat, rats are prey animals and try to hide it when they are sick, so know what to look out for. Make sure you have a vet who has knowledge about rodents in general and rats in particular. Know what to buy for their cage. In general just make sure you are prepared. They are easy to care for, but it is good to know what to expect at the beginning.
  • Get more than one rat. Rats are pack animals and don’t do well alone, even if you get them out of their cage a lot it is no substitute for another rat. They cuddle together, fight and play. It is necessary to get at least 2 rats, although I would advice taking 3 or 4, but that’s my personal preference. It just feels so empty to only have two rats and the cage feels empty.

Have you ever considered taking pet rats? Which pets have you had and what are the good things of those pets and why would you recommend them to other people?


36 responses to “Lola’s Ramblings: Why Rats make Great Pets

  1. Nice summary post on rat ownership. I am a cat and/or dog gal (though I did have an aquarium for a time), but I can appreciate rats. My niece keeps rats for her pet choice and they are adorable to hold and pet and watch play.

    I can’t imagine living without a pet around and I’m glad my allergies allow for it.

    • We had bunnies and fish as kids as my mom didn’t want cats and I’ve always been afraid of dogs, although I also like them at the same time. I just wish I wasn’t afraid for them. Our current rats are our first pets I really bonded with and maybe that’s why I feel more strongly about them. I also can’t imagine living without pets nowadays, it’s nice how they are always home to keep you company.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Ramblings: Why Rats make Great PetsMy Profile

    • I hadn’t thought of rats as pets at first either, but my boyfriend had rats when he was younger and once we wanted pets he mentioned that. Then I did some research I just fell in love with the idea of having rats, they are so cute! And I know it’s a slightly unusual choose for pets and lots of people know very little about them, which is why I really wanted to write this post to emphasize how awesome they are.

  2. I know a friend who has rats as pets and he did say they’re great! I have a cat though so I think I’m good with pets but this is a great way of learning more about them first hand! I agree with pet stores, they are mostly selling for profit so they don’t care about the animals most of the time :-/ thanks for sharing pics of your pets Lola! They’re great! πŸ™‚
    Amir recently posted…Speed Views #5: Wallflowers Edition (Lisa Kleypas Love!)My Profile

    • I think rats are great pets and I wa shoping to share some of my experiences with everyone as they are less common pets. My sister owns and cat and my boyfriends parents as well, so I have some experience with cats as well. I think they can be great, but a little too independent sometimes, they can just go off and do their own thing, while I love to cuddle with my pets and rats are great for that as they don’t mind sitting with me for hours.
      It’s just sad to see how some pet stores treat their pets, I’ve seen a few stores which had rats in small cages without anything else in the cage to hide under. I can’t imagine how stressed those rats would be, our rats love their hidey spaces. They rarely sit out in the open unless they feel really safe, they like being protected somehow.

    • I don’t think we ever lost them, although they can hide or walk our of sight sometimes. We usually keep them in their cage, with us or on the couch. First they jumped to the other couch, so now we mvoe them farther apart, They are small and know when they can’t make the jump. When they are full grown they are about 15 cm measured without their tail and male rats are even bigger, so they aren’t that easy to lose. Just make sure to keep an eye on them if you let them run on the floor.

      They are very clean and cuddly, which is what I like about them.

      Oh that must be hard to lose your guinea pigs in two months. I am a bit over carefull with our rats and what we feed them, but even so we lost one of them pretty early. Sometimes there is nothing you can do or did and it’s just the animals or they get sick. I love animals and I like havign pets aroudn, I can’t imagine not having pets.

  3. Aw! I love your rats πŸ™‚ You know I had a pet rat in college who got sick, bit me, and then the vet put her down πŸ™ Which was a sad experience but I would totally get one (or many) again. I didn’t know they could poop in toilets! How cool! And another thing I found out was that rats are very active at night. I can’t sleep in the same room with them πŸ™‚
    S. J. Pajonas recently posted…Book Chat #14My Profile

    • Thanks, they are cuties :). One of our rats Pita, who died a few months ago, also bit us a few times, it can be hard to figure out what’s causing such behavior. Turned out she was sick and probably bit due to having pain, the poor thing. We’re lucky to have a pretty good vet who knows a lot about rats.
      I hope you can get pet rats again one day! Our rats can be very active at night as well, but they also adjhust to our living ritme slowly. My mom once slept in our living room and said the rats made quite some noise, so yeah I don’t think sleeping in the same room is a good idea, unless they are in a small pet carrier (which is what we do when one of our rats get sick).

    • Oh that sounds fun you had so many different pets, I know another blogger who has hermit crabs, although I prefer pets that I can cuddle with. I also wouldn’t mind having a cat, but I think prefer rats. I guess bigger animals also has their handy things. I wish I could own a dog as I like them, but I am terrified of them at the same time.

        • Oh that’s pretty adorable to have one sit on your leg to watch tv.

          I have no idea why I am terrified of dogs, I’ve been as long as I can remember. My mom is also afraid of dogs, so I might have gotten that from her. I can get used to specific dogs, a friend in high school once had a dog which I grew to like. I even pet some dogs when they look cute, but that’s really pushing me out of my comfort zone. Most often when I see a dog I think it’s cute and am afraid of them at the same time.
          We didn’t grow up with pets in the house, so I think it’s also partly due to me not understanding their behavior. Maybe once if I have lots of money I’ll get therapie to help me over that fear as it can really impact my life sometimes.

          • That’s a real shame, but youre probably right about it being from not growing up with any dogs. I grew up with lots of dogs all around so I’m not afraid but I have plenty of friends that have that fear to. Instead of therapy, you could always go to a shelter and offer to walk an older gentler dog, that could help you to get over your fear and not cost a thing:D
            Lanie recently posted…Bookish Themed Desserts!My Profile

            • Yeah it’s a shame :(. We got our sister’s cat from a shelter and the sound of all the barking dogs frightens me, I don’t think I could walk a dog unless I already knew that dog. And the problem is that when walking a dog you probably encounter other dogs. It’s an annoying fear to have especially as I love animals, I hope to get over it one day.

    • Actually it is possible to have a cat and rat, although you do have to keep an eye on the cat when you’re having your rats with you, which isn’t the best situation. I have seen some stories on the internet of peopel who had rats ad cats togetehr without problems, but I think you have to be lucky then. My sister lived here for a while and she had a cat and our rats survived that time, although the cat is interested in the rats, we made sure she never got close enough to hurt them.
      Rats are great pets and I am still happy we decided to get rats, although it’s sad they have such short life spans.

    • I’ve never been afraid of small pets, it’s often the bigger animals that terrify me. Ah well I can understand rats aren’t for everyone.

    • Yeah there are many horror stories of rats and they are often associated with spreading diseases, but they are rgeat pets and it’s sad some people have bad images from them because they don’t know how awesome they can be.

  4. I love that I found someone else in the blogger world that has pet rats. I have 2 right now also. Scribbles and Flower. Flower is a hairless rat so people freak out when they first see her or when they see her dive into my shirt and hide there. I’ve had rats for just about 15 years and love having them as pets.
    Mary Kirkland recently posted…Review: Grill Brush by Inspired Grill InstrumentsMy Profile

    • I am really glad I met another blogger who has pet rats. I would love to buy a few more rats, but at the moment we decided to wait till we have it better financially. So we’ll stay with these 2 for now.

      Yeah I know those looks people give me when our rats dive into my shirt. It might seem weird for people who aren’t used to rats, but I can sit for hours with my rats in my shirt sleeping against me, it’s the best. Although I hate it when I have to stand up and distrub them from their sleep. We’ve only had rats for 2 years now, but I really want rats after these again. They are such great pets.

    • Yeah I can imagine it would be hard to have rats, when you already have so many cats. There are some pictures and movies online of rats and cats living together, but I think you have to be lucky for that to happen. My sister had a cat and our rats where afraid of the cat, so I always had to make sure to keep the cat away when I had the rats. It could be stressfull. It’s nice now the cat and my sister have moved and we don’t have to keep an eye on the cat when the rats are lose.

  5. I grew up with cats, dogs, bunnies, guinea pigs, my sister had a chicken and fed a family of hedgehogs in her garden, so why not rats ? However, since we already have 2 cats, I’d be too afraid that our cats would consider the rats as dinner ! Plus I’d really hate to put animals in a cage… Your rats seem delightful, they care for you and you care for them, that makes them happy rats πŸ™‚
    Red Iza recently posted…Hottie of the weekMy Profile

    • It must be fun to have grown up around so many different animals.
      And yes it’s a bit sad to have to put animals in their cage, but there are also cats who never get outside, so their house could be considered a cage for the cat then. We made sure to buy a very large cage for our rats and get them out a lot, so it doesn’t feel as much as a cage to them hopefully. They seem to be happy, so that makes me happy.

      And indeed the cats might see the rats as dinner, my sister’s cat always was very interested in our rats, she never did the rats anythgin but we always kept a close eye on the cat when the rats were loose. The cat might not have the intention to eat the rats, but those sharp claws and teeth close to rats still make me uneasy.

  6. I think rats are the only small animal I’ve yet to own, currently I have guinea pigs but I’ve had hamsters too. I feel like hamsters are really similar to rats, health-wise. I think the longest one of mine lived for was two years and the shortest was only three months :c Excellent advice on avoiding pet stores and doing research.

    If someone told me a few years ago that rats could be loving I would have never believed them but now I’ve seen so many people and videos (and this post) and it amazes me that you can have a connection with them like this. Hamsters don’t really do much and my guinea pigs kind of ignore us, although one does love to lick me (it’s the strangest thing). I do want to have rats someday, though!
    Alise recently posted…I need ALL THE BOOKS!My Profile

    • Guinea pigs and hamsters are cute, although like you said it feels like you make less of a connection with them. While rats are more like dogs in their behavior and get attached to their humans.
      And that’s so sad one of your hamsters only lived three months :(.

      There are a lot of great video’s about rats that show how loving they are. At first I never considered rats as pets eithe,r but my boyfriend had them as a kid and then I did some research and changed my opinion of them. They truly are great pets and they really connect and bond with their humans. They also like to just sleep or sit quietly in their cage, but our rats are used to getting out of the cage multiple times a day and you notice they don’t like it when we ignore them for days. Which we rarely do, except for when we have to go somewhere, then we really need to give them extra atention when we get back. They are really smart and get used to routines as well. I am happy to hear you might consider getting rats someday!
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Fried Rice RecipeMy Profile

  7. Awww, your rats look uber adorable! We had a pet hamster when I was a kid, which my brother and I loved so much until it died at 3 years of age. Now, we have a pet boston terrier in our apartment, and a big, gentle yellow labradore in our home in the countryside! If ever I need a smaller and equally loyal and smart pet, I will definitely take your suggestion and get rats! I would love to get to know the little critters πŸ™‚
    Faye M. recently posted…Review + PH Giveaway: Vanishing Girls by Lauren OliverMy Profile

    • That’s the only sad thing with rats, that they don’t get that old. I know some people compare rats in their behaviour to dogs as they are very loyal as well. Rats really make great pets and I am hoping more people consider them as pets :).
      I wish I wasn’t afraid of dogs as they seem like nice pets as wel.
      Lola recently posted…Lola’s Kitchen: Fried Rice RecipeMy Profile

  8. I just ran a cross your post while I was looking for positive things about pet rats. It’s nice to see someone go into such detail about what makes a rat great pet. Over the years I have had dogs, cats, fish and even a few reptiles, but I will always have a pet rat. They are so affectionate and easy to care for. I just don’t get why they’re not more popular in the pet trade.
    Mark recently posted…Rat Cage CalculatorMy Profile

    • Thanks! Rats really are amazing pets and they really are affectionate and loyal. I don’t get why they aren’t more popular either.

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