Rats, like mice or hamsters, can make good pets. Apart from the well known white rat, there are many different and appealing, coloured rats. If they are used to human handling from an early age, rats are a fun pet to have. They enjoy toys such as wheels and cardboard rolls. Gnawing blocks are useful to help wear down their teeth.
Like all pets, rats need to be healthy and happy. A large cage, that allows plenty of exercise, will be required. This be should placed away from draughts and always be kept clean. Non toxic wood chippings or commercial rat bedding is best, with shredded paper or kitchen roll for the nest. Most rats like a dark nest box for sleeping. Avoid using sawdust, as rats are susceptible to respiratory problems and cotton wool for nesting can cause choking.
Rats enjoy human company. However they definitely are happier with the company of other rats. If you are keeping rats as pets, two females together are best. They can then play together. Rats will often take turns chasing each other and apparently biting each other in the neck area during mock fights. Don’t be alarmed if this involves a lot of squeaking no real aggression is usually involved. Real fights are recognisable, if one of the rats has its fur on end and the biting is aimed at the bottom or rear end.
While not such affectionate pets as cats and dogs, rats are attractive and amusing animals. They are relatively easy to look after; needing a simple, non costly seed based food mix and fresh water daily and cage cleaning on a weekly basis. Most good pet shops will have rats of different colours; white, chocolate, and black are waiting for affectionate owners.