Pet rats are VERY affectionate. They love to be cuddled and petted. This is especially true for male rats, since the females are often more independent. Both sexes will contentedly sit on your shoulder while you walk around. Most of them like to give kisses, too!
• Easily adapt to human sleeping schedules. Hamsters, however, are nocturnal and will never adapt to their human’s sleeping times. Consequently, if you get a hamster for yourself or for your child, count on listening to the wheel spinning around all night long.
• Rarely bite. On the other hand, (literally!) hamsters often bite humans. The only time a pet rat will bite is: 1) If you have the smell of food on your fingers or 2) If the rat has not been socialized or has been abused, it will bite out of fear and self-protection.
• Are very clean. They groom themselves just like cats!
• Play just like cats! They love to chase strings or your hand around a room.
• Teach you about nutrition. I’d never eaten bok choy or kale until learning they’re good food for rats. Now I know these are highly nutritious foods for humans, too.
• Are ideal pets for apartment dwellers. I got my first pet rat when I moved into a condo where we weren’t allowed to have dogs or cats. No one said anything about pet rats, though!
• While the above are all great reasons to adopt a rat, be sure to educate yourself on the proper nutrition, housing and be ready for medical problems should they arise. Many people are unaware that veterinary bills for rats can be comparable to those for dogs and cats.
• Read the section on choosing your rats. Rats live more comfortably with at least one other buddy. When deciding on males or females, keep in mind the males may be more cuddly, but they tend to live shorter lives than the females. However, females tend to get mammary tumors, so both have their pros and cons.