Wednesday, January 12, 2011
ADOPTiNG A SMALL PET
Pt II: Rats
written by Veronica of ScrappyRat
Rats are really no harder or easier to keep than gerbils or hamsters, they just have different needs and "rules". They are cuddlier (especially boys) than gerbils, but about on par with hamsters as far as snuggliness goes. They're much more intelligent than hamsters, though, so you need to be prepared for that, both the wonderful things that brings and the difficulties as well.
Rats are better shoulder surfers and can be trained much more easily than most rodents, but they are also quicker to figure out how to take advantage of you or escape, too. They tend to have considerably higher vet bills and significantly more health problems than most of the other commonly kept rodents, but they also offer a more dog or cat like bond than a hamster or gerbil. Their bites hurt far worse than those of hamsters or gerbils but many say that they are less likely to bite (though any animal who has teeth can bite if their needs aren't met or if they're frightened).
Rats are much more territorial when it comes to their nests, especially if the rats are not spayed/neutered, but respecting their nesting space is really a matter of just understanding the wants and needs of rats specifically. Rats can often be litter trained quite easily, but they are also more likely to spray if not spayed/neutered, but both depend on each rat’s personality.
Like gerbils, rats are very social and generally need to be kept in a group for their own well-being. They are easier to introduce than most gerbils, though, which is nice if you think you want to increase the size of your group (or “mischief”) later.
Rats require a lot more space than hamsters and gerbils and need to have their cages cleaned about twice as often. This is because hamsters and gerbils are desert creatures who produce very little urine and dense feces that don't smell all that strongly, whereas rats live in wetter climates and eat a far more varied diet. Rats are a lot more expensive to keep than hamsters or gerbils in general, but it's hard to find a hamster or gerbil with the same intelligence as a rat--or a rat's enthusiasm for your time and attention, which also means that rats need a lot more time and attention too.
If you’re still not certain... the volunteers at Carolina Pet Rescue will be very happy to talk with you about the different animals available and can set up a visit with the species you’d like to meet. They can show you the kind of habitat they should be kept in and can discuss their veterinary history and what to expect as far as their future medical needs.
Adopting an animal should be a happy event, and the best way to ensure that outcome is by preparing yourself with the knowledge you need to provide a happy home for your new pet.
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Posted by Brizel Handcrafts on Wednesday, January 12, 2011