Most Common Misconceptions About Rats As Pets:
When some people think about having rats as pets, they shudder. Many people are afraid of rats to begin with. So when they think of playing with them, it gives them chills. As someone who has been around rats and even owned them, I can tell you honestly how silly these misconceptions are. Sure you don’t want to be playing with wild rats. But domesticated rats are some of the absolute best pets, even for kids.
Aren’t rats dirty?
If you are talking about rats who live in the sewers and elsewhere in the wild, you may be quite right. However, domesticated rats that become pets are actually some of the cleanest animals you can come across. They spend a good portion of the day grooming, have a shiny coat, and have a natural scent to them that is almost like a perfume.
People catch diseases from rats, right?
While rats can and do spread disease, typically any diseases that spread from rats to humans would occur in wild rats. There can be exceptions, but in most cases, domesticated rats are not as likely to spread disease to humans as is often thought. Because of the disease spread by wild rats, domesticated rats get a bad reputation they don’t often deserve. It is in the best interest of your pet rat and your family to ensure your furry rodent family member gets regular check-ups. But your vet will probably tell you the chances of catching anything serious from your pet rat are fairly low.
Rats cannot give affection, like dogs can.
Because rats are so small, one might think they can’t be very affectionate. Can a rat curl up in your arms and fall asleep? Can a rat snuggle? Do rats learn their names and come when you call them? Yes is the answer to all of the above and more. When I adopted a rat, the very first week he learned his name and even snuggled with me. By the next week (and from then on), each time we went to his cage he was already at the top waiting before we had even finished opening the door. As soon as the door was opened, he’d hop right out, ready for some fun. Modest (the rat) spent more time out of the cage than in and was very loving. He really enjoyed interacting with ALL humans and played an active role in my family. He never tried to run away when we let him out, although we did/do close doors anyways.
Rats are creepy and might bite me!
The creepiness of a rat is usually based on years of misconceptions passed from generation to generation. There is also a great deal of negativity about rats in television and movies. Most likely, your rat is not going to multiply into thousands by himself and attack you, or anyone in the middle of the night. Rats are also very docile and generally only bite when threatened or when they smell food on someone’s hands. I have had rats for the past 3 years and handle them daily; and I have never once been bitten. Washing hands before handling a rat and being gentle with them will help prevent biting, even though it is unlikely. All of my rats were/are very affectionate and had not an ounce of aggression in them.
Won’t a rat stink up the room they are kept in?
Another big misconception about having rats around is that they stink. Just like any other caged animal, provided you are cleaning the cage regularly, a rat is not going to stink up the room. As previously mentioned, rats are unique in that their natural scent is often described as perfume-like. You should be cleaning the rat’s cage at least once per week or as often as needed. Soiled bedding areas can be scooped out and replaced with fresh bedding in between thorough cleanings to prevent any odor.
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