Oh, Rats.

People spend a whole lot of money getting rid of rodents. 

And I’m spending a lot of money buying them.  (And by "a lot of money" I mean "more than zero", which is precisely how much a rodent is worth, as far as I’m concerned.)  The boys have been begging and begging for small, furry pets of their own for months and months, and I have drug my feet as long as I can. 

J0262274After the whole our-dog-went-crazy ordeal earlier in the fall, I knew we were toast.  The rodents would be unavoidable now.  I did enough homework and learned that (*shudder*) rats seem to make excellent pets.  I bought the boys a book on the subject, told them they all three have to read it, cover to cover, and learn every little detail about rat care.  They have devoured it.

(It’s funny–when you write a blog post about rats, words like "devour" suddenly take on a creepy new meaning.)

They have to learn all the rat-care details, because I do not want to see the rats, or touch them, or hear them, or smell them.  And HEAVEN HELP ME I do not want to see them scurrying across my living room. 

In fact, the only reason I’m even tell you about this is because I suspect there will be rat stories to tell, and very soon.  The Dryer rats may become a source of great blog fodder around here.  And if not, Melanie has a cat.

(I’m kidding!  It’s a joke!  No nasty e-mails from the animal lovers, please.)

Seriously, if any of you has words of wisdom for this soon-to-be rodent owner, feel free to share your advice below.  UNLESS you once had a rat, and it escaped from its cage and gave the whole family the Plague.  If that’s case, please keep your trap shut.

("Trap."  There’s another word with a new meaning…)

109 thoughts on “Oh, Rats.

  1. bookscout says:

    I grew to love my son’s rats. They actually will come to you, unlike hamsters which are rock solid stupid. They are affectionate and can be trained to do tricks. However, if you let them run around loose, be aware they will chew stuff up and drag items to their “lair.” Good luck.

  2. Katie says:

    my sisters had rats growing up. they’re actually pretty fun. they’re really smart, too. they escaped from their cage a few times. but they actually help you clean up when they do that. they start gathering bits of paper and stuff to make a nest. then all of the scraps of paper in your house are in one neat little pile – when you find them.

  3. Dawn says:

    Oh my LAWD! Meet me at Starbucks and I will tell you about our hamster that lived more outside the cage than inside……….and had a life after death experience. Oy!

  4. Laurie in TN says:

    We had a hamster that got “lost” between the walls once. And never did find him.
    At one time I had gerbils, hamsters, and guinea pigs in my bedroom growing up. I’m sure my room smelled wonderful! *sigh*
    Have fun with your rats!
    ~Laurie in TN

  5. pam says:

    Now, this takes the title of my blog to a whole new level.
    You are a better mom than I. After the guinea pig that repeatedly bit the hand that fed it . . . mine — we are on a “no rodents” ban around our house.
    God’s richest blessings on your rat ownership : )

  6. Lorraine says:

    My Daughter saw the picture and asked, “Is it named Templeton?” *S* can you tell we’ve been reading Charlotte’s Web?
    I’d say to keep them in separate cages, but that’s based on mice, not rats. I remember the mice my science teacher had. Someone once gave him two “boy” mice. a few weeks later he had dozens of mice and needed 4 aquariums full of bedding to contain them all, and he couldn’t give the dang things away fast enough.
    have fun!

  7. kelli says:

    I don’t’ know if it’ the same with rats, but K gave her pneumonia to our hamster. The vet said (yes, yes, I took the stupid thing to the vet. On a Sunday. Sucker….) that some rodents are susceptible to human colds and viruses.
    Just a warning.
    (Oh- and the hamster? We spent 10 days feeding it antibiotics in yogurt on a spoon, 3x a day. The thankful little furball then had the audacity to choke on a seed and die the next day.)

  8. Jeana says:

    Oh, it’s a sad year for the Dryer family. First their dog went crazy, now their mom has.
    Kidding. Seriously, you’re a better woman then me. I just hope they don’t end up where the rocks ended up.

  9. Lorri says:

    I think I could live with a gerbil or a guinea pig or other cute furry rodent – but to me, rats are downright creepy!
    On a nature walk this weekend we came across a mole…very cute I admit and fun to look at – but this mean old mom wouldn’t even let the kids touch it with their hands (though I kind of wish I had).
    My dd would have picked him up and put him in her pocket in a heartbeat if I hadn’t been around.
    I have too many traumatic mice stories from my childhood out at the lake…”did you hear it – it’s in my room!…Ahhh one fell on my head” (my sister). Everyone shared a “room” in the cabin with a sibling, but me – I had a bed in a little hallway, doubly scared of all the mice talk. I also had to take a turn at emptying a mousetrap. No fun.

  10. biodtl says:

    If you can get past the fact that they are…well…rats, they can be great pets. They’re friendly and smart. I had hamsters, too and they gave me nothing but headaches.

  11. FL Grandma says:

    My son had a white rat – oh so many years ago. I was okay with it because he obeyed the rules: you may show it to guests but NEVER stick it in their face or try to make them hold/pet it if they don’t want to (some did, which pleased him.) I never touched it; he respected my feelings. It was rather cute to see the rat climb the stairs. He also had two mice – Cocoa and Cream. Once when he was cleaning the cage, one of them went through the vacuum cleaner hose! He retrieved it; it had only a tiny red mark on its nose. We still laugh about that. (But we’re not cruel to animals!)

  12. Ericka Wagner says:

    Oh my gosh, my son is DYING for a rat as a pet. My local pet store said the same thing, as far as rodents go, they are actually smart. I shudder saying that as well. If I could only get over the tail……….
    How funny you should post this, I’ll live vicariously through you until our guinea piggies go to heaven and I’m forced to do the same πŸ™‚

  13. deborah says:

    wow, you are truly amazing. it so would not last here. we have hunters; 2 cats, 2 snakes (yeah, 4 rat hunters) and a large dog. so, bummer(riiiight) we’re out on the rat thing. But I’ll just HAVE to keep checking in here to see how ol Pendleton is doing in your neck of the woods. Good luck with that!

  14. Fran says:

    Oh yes, my boys have had their share. my suggestion would be that they CANNOT, WILL NOT, or SHOULD NOT go to the cage without an adult….to take the thing out or put the thing in….YOU must make sure that the door is shut securely! Now….enjoy! πŸ™‚

  15. The Junk Drawer says:

    “I did enough homework and learned that (*shudder*) rats seem to make excellent pets.”
    Are you sure there wasn’t an extra “s” missing in that? Might it have said “…make excellent pests?”
    I’m still scratching my head over this one.

  16. Tracy says:

    My husband’s family had pet rats growing up. He has tried to convince me numerous times that they would be a good idea. I have resisted thus far, and will continue to resist. But I will say that he has said that they are wonderful pets.

  17. Aimee says:

    My friend has rats (as pets, not as an infestation or anything). She LOVES them and she works with all kinds of animals. She said they are smart and very well behaved. She would take a rat over a hamster any day – in fact, she insists that hamsters are evil incarnate because of all the biting and bad attitude problems. She highly recommends rats as pets.
    Good Luck! πŸ™‚

  18. Adventures In Babywearing says:

    I had rats as pets and they are FABULOUS creatures!! If hubby would let me, I’d have one now! They WILL try to escape, so just make sure you have a good lid and maybe something heavy on top, but they are easy to find. Any other tips you might need, just email me!
    Steph

  19. Alissa says:

    we have rats. the bad kind. there’s really nothing like waking up first thing in the morning, walking into your kitchen and falling flat on your butt because you slipped in puddle of vegetable oil… caused by a really insanely stupid rat chewing a hole in a gallon bottle in the pantry.

  20. Christine says:

    I stay away from the pet store now, because the little dude outside the “varmint” room is always bragging on the cleanliness and ease of having mice for pets.
    Hate that guy.

  21. Tammie says:

    Rats are great pets. Everyone has already listed all the good things about them, I believe. My son has a hamster now and I had them as a kid and I would replace him with a rat any day. Hamsters escape and smell and bite. None of which we had to deal with when we had pet rats. The younger you can get them the better and the more the boys play with them the better too, obviously.
    I guess that’s all I have. Your boys will love them and you may just learn to like them too!
    have fun! Hope to see pictures!

  22. Karen says:

    Our rat is a very sweet thing. I can only echo others’ experiences… she doesn’t try to escape or bite (she licks, though… so cute!). My family had hamsters/gerbils when I was a child and I much prefer the rat to them.

  23. chilihead says:

    This post is hilarious! I laughed several times. Mostly because you have to get a rat, but still. Funny. And punny. Oscar is available any time. Commentors: Please direct all hate mail to me. Shannon is much too nice. Me, I’m a little iffy and can take it. πŸ˜‰

  24. Michelle says:

    We have had several rats as pets. At first I thought it was the grossest thing ever, but they grow on you. Except the tail. I HATE the tails! And I would recommend female rats. The boys are VERY anatomically correct, and that disturbs me as much as the tails!

  25. Jendeis says:

    BFF had a white rat while we were in college. So friendly! Make sure to get one of those exercise balls so that they can run around, but the boys can still catch them.

  26. Carrie says:

    As far as no nasty emails from the animal lovers, that made me laugh just a little considering what we’re doing to get rid of the squirrels in our roof. Which I won’t say here. **insert evil laugh**

  27. lisa h. says:

    the plauge! you kill me! just make sure you have a good cage so it doesn’t get out…our hampsters were always escaping. although, those were just hampsters

  28. Big Mama says:

    One of these days when I come to visit, I think I may need to stay in a hotel.
    My advice is to put a big rat trap by your bedroom door just in case you have any escapees.

  29. Cindy says:

    Really, a rat? I think that is loving your children just a little too much. Yuck. I’m a hamster owner and that is all the rodent we need. And less nasty long tail.

  30. Jessica says:

    We had a hamster when I was a kid. Jingles. (isn’t that a cute name for a hamster?) Jingles, it seems, liked to escape from his cage at night, and one morning he was gone forever. We kids didn’t think too much of it until the giant maggots started appearing in our basement. They were huge. They turned into gigantic flies. My mom went nuts. Wouldn’t you? She made my Dad cut a hole (well, multiple holes) in the laundry room wall where the maggots appeared to be coming from. He retrieved the dead, decaying hamster and that was the end of Jingles. We never had another hamster.
    Lovely huh? It’s a fun story to tell at family gatherings now. =)

  31. slawebb says:

    We had hamsters. Cute maybe, but I don’t like cleaning the cage. When we get pets it will be at the time my kids are old enough to take care of it themselves. If they don’t get taken care of properly then they are gone. I cannot stand the smell of animal urine and if I wanted to take care of a pet then I would have gotten one for myself. I’m personally thinking snake or turtle. Not very entertaining but I like to look at them. Of course I have 2 girls so they will probably want something fluffy like a rabbit or kitten. Lucky at this point my youngest if allergic to cats so no furred animals for us for awhile. Good luck!

  32. Verna says:

    Okay here is my story, last year my son (13) won a snake in science class. I could find no real reason to say no. Other than they are creepy. Snake comes home to live with us. Name – Freddie!! Now it is my job to purchase frozen feeder mice for Freddie. So this past Sunday I am standing in line at the pet store purchasing 5 frozen mice to go. How did this happen…never in my wildest dreams did I see my self in a pet store purchasing frozen mice!!! What we do for our kids!!

  33. LeeAnn says:

    I admit I have a rat- and mouse- phobia that extends to gerbils. Not when I was a child though. What is it about those rodents that appeal to kids?
    I had a friend that got some for her kids. She swore they were good pets, and they were fascinating to watch . . . from behind the kids handling them. They would certainly be cheaper to feed than my 80-pound behemoth (that just killed a mouse!) Scared me to death! The dog thought he’d done something wrong, I screamed so shrilly. (I’d rather that than de-con; it’s quicker and pain-free.)

  34. kellie says:

    No wisdom here….but I did once have a mouse that did escape. My family didn’t get the plague but I DID get in a bit of trouble! In the interest of not hijacking your comments with a long story I think I will post my story on my own blog and you can go read it at your own risk! πŸ˜‰
    Ironically, while I type, I am drying a load of my son’s laundry. I do believe their is a rock the size of Texas clanking around in there, better go check.
    kellie

  35. ~*~ Jennifer ~*~ says:

    Y.U.C.K.
    I now know that you truly LOVE your kiddos more than I do. I’d NEVER buy them a rodent… ewwww!!
    Well — have fun. I can’t wait to read about it — because I know I’ll NEVER experience it. LOL!!

  36. Rebecca says:

    The only thing close to a rodent I’ve owned is a hamster, but they are cute & fuzzy & sweet. Rats gross me out. A friend of mine let her daughter have a couple and they all loved the rats. The only thing I remember is that rat’s get lonely & are social creatures so I *think* it’s best to own them in pairs but don’t quote me on that.

  37. Elizabeth says:

    Hey, if you have a college/university with a psychology lab nearby, see if they have any “extra” rats….most psych courses have a class where you have to train a rat. The white rats they use are especially bred to be VERY tame and super smart. A lot of students don’t want to keep their rats and they end up being snake food. Of course, I had to keep mine (plus another one for company) and the two of them were great little pets. Much nicer than your average pet store rat!

  38. Ally P says:

    -I would reccomend finding a good pet forum that has an active rat following (like http://www.paw-talk.net), so if a problem arrises you will have imediate help.
    -I will also reccomend looking at http://www.petfinder.com and see if there are any rescues in your area that have baby rats available (yes there are rat rescues).
    -Make sure you get all males or you could end up with babies (plus from everything I have ever heard about rats, males are friendlier).
    -Be sure to have more than one because they are social and must have a cage mate.
    -Good luck, rats can almost be dog like and they are trainable and cuddly. Before you know it you will be a rat lover.

  39. Lori Bailey says:

    Make sure you watch the extra on Ratatouille about the history of Rats. Funny, fascinating, and, not surprisingly, pro-rat. One tidbit – the plague was not their fault. It was the fleas. Just make sure the kiddos don’t beg for a flea circus πŸ˜‰

  40. Denise says:

    Oh, Shannon. Strangely, I happen to know that there is a very friendly white curly haired rat at Southern Agriculture. You know, next to the Webkinz aisle, which I have spent way too much time and money on lately. Just ask for the girl who takes care of the rats. She loves them and will tell you which ones are the friendliest. Her and I had a long conversation one day and she is very knowledgeable!

  41. Jen says:

    I had a psychology teacher in college that had pet rats. He always talked about what great pets they were and how they would sit in his desk drawer when he worked in his office. Fast forward two years later and he mentioned casually that they were from his experiements and had brain screws sticking out the tops of their heads.

  42. MSH says:

    We became the inadvertent owners of a hamster about 6 months ago. After about a month of the heebie-jeebies, I kinda like him. We have been taking him to my son’s second grade class as a class pet. The only drawback–the pee. Man does it smell. Other than that he is cute and cuddly. I know, I never thought I would say it, but really, rodents can be sweet. Rats STILL freak me out though. Good Luck with that…

  43. Cyndy says:

    My one outstanding rat experience was the one I saw coming up from behind a gravestone in a church cemetary in New York City. (The church is across the street from where the twin towers once stood 😦 ) It was the size of a small dog. Grossed me out.
    So anyway, have fun with the rats!

  44. Sheila says:

    Eek! Thankfully, my children have never asked for one of these! Growing up we did have 2 hamsters… until our cat got a hold of one of them. The cat did not kill it, but by carrying it around in her mouth, it had a heart-attack. The other one ran away. We have no idea what happened to it. Good Luck!

  45. Cindy says:

    You have my DEEPEST sympathy. I pray for God’s peace in your life during this difficult time…and that I will have the strength to endure something similar if/when my time comes.

  46. Simple_Chic says:

    Rats can be a blessing in disguise. Pet rats still leave a scent to mark their territory, and that will keep the wild rats out of the house. I don’t like the idea of rats either, or any rodent for that matter, but I will attest that they do keep the wild ones out of the house. Good luck!

  47. Andrea says:

    My husband had a female white rat when he was growing up.He absolutely loved her and has tried to convince me that they are one of the greatest pets around. He did say that the females were his preference because the males have a very strong tendency to get elephantitus. (I know that I spelled that wrong, sorry.) Thankfully my 6 year old son is satisfied with a parakeet and 3 goldfish. At least for now!

  48. janet says:

    i did not have to read any books like that when I was little so I don’t know if rats and mice are the same but, my sister and I each had a mouse and we noticed one was eating the other. at first we couldn’t figure it out, we thought it just scraped along the cage but the next night, oh my, there was no denying it was being hurt by the other one. so, if you get more than one, I’d check on that. have fun. we had a dog that looked just like yours. last week, after three years, we got another one that looks nothing like them.

  49. Debby K. says:

    ew!ew!ew!ew!ew!ew!ew!ew!ew!ew!ew!ew!ew!ew!
    We got a cat last year when the extermintor’s traps failed to work. I won’t even look at the things at the pet store. I don’t care what kind of pets they make, they are vermin! But hey! Have fun with that! πŸ™‚

  50. Tami says:

    Make sure you have all females or all males. If rats are the same as gerbils, they will have babies about every 6 weeks or so. We now have 2 male gerbils and they are okay. Not sure I could do the whole rat thing. Gerbils are close enough. Good luck.

  51. Molly says:

    Ha ha! I laughed out loud at this. We live in a 3rd world country where rats are a common thing…yuck! Of course, they are a bit bigger than the ones they have in the States as pets…and much more germy! We have had 3 in our house, and while I enjoy being able to tell the funny stories of how Hubby killed them, I would NEVER CHOOSE to have one in my house! πŸ™‚ More power to ya! You are a stronger woman than I!

  52. Lisa P in California says:

    I had two rats when I was a kid and they were great. They were quiet and constantly cleaning themselves. I don’t know if I’d let my kids have them now though…only because I’d end up being the one to clean the cage all the time, and I HATE that job. Mine were named Whiskers and Sniffles.

  53. Leah says:

    My oldest daughter had a rat for a pet 6-7 years ago, she had him for about 6 months. She loved him!! He ended up getting sick and because she was so worried about him, I took him to the vet who informed us that nothing could be done. So I paid around $70 to have him put to sleep then we took him to my moms and buried him in a box!! What we won’t do for our kids!

  54. Stacey says:

    When I was in middle school one of my friends brought her pet rat to school and left it in her locker— while she was in class– that was enough of rats for me!
    We had guinea pigs when I was a kid, till one died on Thanksgiving…
    I do wish you well.. I’ll be chekcing back to see if you are braver than me!

  55. Kyleen says:

    We have had several hamsters and mice over the years. They were easy to care for and little trouble. They made fine pets until we discovered sugar gliders. They are marsupials, not rodents and are much more intelligent and more interactive than rodents. Sugar Gliders are just as easy to care for and are smaller than a rat. They are a bit more expensive initially and they require a larger cage than a rat or hamster. Sugar Gliders live much longer than rodents so you are not off to Petco every 6 months.

  56. Kristi says:

    DON’T DO IT!!! YOU KNOW WHO WILL BECOME THE RAT FEEDER/CLEANER EVERYTHING. SAVE YOURSELF NOW WHILE YOU STILL CAN. Those are my words of wisdom.

  57. Charity says:

    I don’t know anything about rats, but we just got three mice a while ago and I can give you one tip. If rats use a wheel, do not buy a solid plastic one – get a wire mesh one. They would pee on it and then when they ran on it, it was like a fan blowing stinky mouse pee smell all over the house. Eeewww! We bought a wire mesh wheel and have not had a problem since. (And, if it gets squeaky, just oil it with vegetable oil.)

  58. Jennifer says:

    My husband bought a rat in high school for a pet………it was pregnant =)
    Have Fun!!
    Jennifer – who is a BIG time animal lover but hates rats!!!

  59. LeeAnn says:

    We had a very sweet pet rat named Eve. She was allowed to roam outside of her cage when we were home and would return to her cage when signaled (she would not go potty outside her cage). She also came when you called her name. Once you get over the tail, they really are like very small dogs…
    My one suggestion to you is to create a signal each time you return the rat to it’s cage (I would run my fingernail along the cage bars ala’ a prisoner with a tin cup on jail bars). Then put the rat in the cage and give it a treat (crust of bread etc). This trains the rat to return to the cage whenever you make that sound because it knows that it will get a treat. Even if you don’t want your rat to free roam it’s a good way to get the rat to return to the cage if it ever gets out accidentally…
    Good luck!

  60. momrn2 says:

    Not sure I can help you much in the line of rats, but if you’re ever in the line for chickens… now there’s something I myself have learned a lot about over the last year! πŸ™‚

  61. Lucy says:

    When I was a kid, I took an animal behavior class through our local zoo and we trained white rats. My brother and I got to bring them home for a few days. They were really cool. I would own white rats, but I don’t think I could do brown ones.
    I’m partial to guinea pigs. They’re not as agile or trainable as rats, but they have charming personalities and are pretty clean if you keep them in an old aquarium, which is what I did with mine (and use cedar shavings, which cover any smell). Plus, they don’t eat their babies, which gerbils and hamsters do. I don’t know about rats. Even when my guinea pig gave birth to a stillborn baby, she licked it and tried to revive it. At first I thought she was eating it and panicked, but when I realized she was trying to help it, I was very touched, even as a ten year old. And baby guineas are born with hair and their eyes open and are ready to rumble in just a few minutes! They’re so cute!
    Especially because you have boys, rats are probably the way to go. They’re smart, easily trained, and good at climbing. And you can’t deny that the “yuck” factor is part of the charm. πŸ™‚
    Good luck!

  62. Dawn says:

    My friend’s son used to have a pet rat. I think rats are very cute, except for their tails. Their tails are just big and weird looking.

  63. Nancy says:

    As a kid I had every kind of animal you can think of so this is going to be OK the kids will have fun memories. I’m not a kid anymore and still love all kinds of critters. My last was a tarantula, by the name of Rosie..

  64. robin says:

    Rats are fab! We had 2 in the past (both female as we really didn’t like the boys having their round boy parts all dragging around behind them lol) and they were the sweetest things. We got ours (dumbos) from a breeder, and I know you probably aren’t in the KC area, but she has a fab website at spoiledratten.com – there are the cutest pics and lots of useful info there and she used to have a forum that was very helpful to be on – she probably still has it, a yahoo list I think.
    Just prepare the kids – ratties only live 2 years or so and are prone to tumors. But they are a wonderfully sweet 2 years! Have fun and post lots of pics!

  65. robin again says:

    Oh! Someone mentioned using cedar in the bedding… please don’t use this. It can be highly toxic to rodents and can cause them respiratory problems. (Pine also) – there are other good alt things out there (Carefresh comes to mind). I know you mentioned having the kids learn about them w/ a book but many books from the pet store don’t tell you many important things like the bedding problems. I think the link I mentioned above has a care area too. πŸ™‚
    Happy ratting.

  66. Hestial says:

    We had a rat as a class pet in my 8th grade science class. It actually behaved really well, and most of the students took to it right away. I also have a friend who has three rats between herself and her fiancee, and she swears they make adorable, friendly pets.
    Keep us updated!

  67. Cathy says:

    Oh, rats are such SWEET pets, truly! Give them a chance. We have two boys now…our girls got old and developed tumors. I would highly recommend males because they are less likely to get tumors. Males do have more of a smell, but neutering them helps. I would buy from a reliable breeder…pet store rats tend to carry mycoplasma, a lung disease that is eventually fatal in rats. Please update us on what you do.

  68. Jenni says:

    My DH had a rat when he was a kid and he LOVED her so much. He tells wonderful stories about the critter, so I know they can make wonderful pets. We had one for a very brief period, but she died of some unknown cause, so no firsthand experience here for you. However, I really do think they’re intelligent and sweet…I hope you grow to enjoy it/them!

  69. ellen b says:

    Fats and Pinky were our two rats. They were great pets. I just saw the comment above. Ours got tumors too. My daughter taught them a few tricks. But they die and that’s what I hate about pets…

  70. Susan says:

    I LOVED my white rat, Charlie growing up. He never escaped. He never bit. He was wonderful. The gerbils, on the other hand, were a pain! They nipped, they escaped (and subsequently died and stunk behind the wall).

  71. Lorisa says:

    Rats are wonderful pets! I just wouldn’t ever buy boy rats because their private parts are ridiculously huge. They don’t bite like gerbils and hamsters and are really quite smart. They have fairly short life spans though – about 3 years. My son quit wanting pets that passed away so quick.

  72. CousinJ says:

    Shannon,
    I “rescued” a rat from being euthanized after teaching it to bar press in a research methods psychology class in college. From my experience, they are friendly and pretty easy to train, but CLEAN ITS CAGE OFTEN:)! We kept it in our tiny dorm room and it didn’t take but a few days for it to start to stink….

  73. coolcukes says:

    We had a very sweet rat for just over 4 years! It was a sad day when our rat died. She was so super sweet and was a wonderful pet for our kids. Rats make great pets. It might eeep you out a bit at first but you will get used to and come to love it.

  74. Cathy says:

    As for the boy parts being big…get them neutered. Really helps the smell too. Girls are more active and rambunctious…boys are more snuggly, if that helps you decide. We’ve had both (and we neuter) and it’s a tossup which we prefer personality-wise, but males are less likely to get the all-too-common mammary tumors, which are quite expensive to remove. Check out the yahoo group Ratlist for more info…they are a great help with any medical issues that arise as well.

  75. Cathy says:

    Just wanted to add, that I was reading that spaying female rats before 6 months of age really cuts down on the incidence of mammary tumors. We did not know this until they were much older and we had already found the first tumor. So that’s another option. Good luck!

  76. Cathy says:

    In answer to Lorisa, our vet charged something like $65 for the two males, but she gave us quite a deal. Her prices are really reasonable anyway, and as animal lovers we are frequent clients. I would probably expect to pay more like $60 apiece elsewhere, but you could always call around and ask. The thing is, it takes as much time to neuter a rat as a Great Dane, or pretty close…the one thing that IS usually cheaper is the cost of meds for a rat, because their dose is so small.

  77. Stacy says:

    Ok. As a preschool teacher I have had EVERY pet on the planet. guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils, mice, rabbits, hedgehogs, birds, turtles, and yes RATS! The thing to remember is to not think of them as the gross rats on the street. Just as you would not have a wild dog as a pet, you wouldn’t have a “wild” rat as one. Domesticated rats are as hygenic as cats and dogs. They are sooooo much better than other rodents. My other favs are guineas and hedghogs but both have issues as well.
    Keep their cage clean- once a week and the rest is easy, but do make sure that their cage is escape proof. My rat Biggie used to unhook his wire cage latch, it is the drawback to being REALLY smart. I loved him though. I know its kind of ooky, but they are actually quite lovable and have true personalities. Good luck.

  78. Holly Smith says:

    Funny, we just buried our first hamster, Bob, to many tears and bought a new and improved, fast Robohamster named Bob Jr. He can push balls in the pockets with his own little ball on our pool table. He got out the second day thanks to our 4 year old. I went to catch him, prayed and then saw him and nearly jumped out of my skin and screamed! Then I thought, “Oh, I’m supposed to catch him.” So I did within a minute (which is a God-thing for sure).
    Hamsters are OK…I’m not a fan of rodents, esp. rats!

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