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Old 01-14-2013, 06:58 PM
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Default Rats - please inform me

Just what the title says. I'm a college student who will be moving into an apartment with a few pet-friendly people next year and am pondering the (unlikely, but all too appealing) idea of getting something small and fuzzy to entertain me, give me something to care for, and keep me company. Right now I am the proud owner of 5 pet houseplants which I surprisingly haven't yet managed to kill with kindness. Although my houseplants are well mannered, low maintenance, and thoroughly non-aggressive, after two years they have yet to learn to come when called and don't seem to ever want to interact with me.

I'd love to have something that's a little more interactive and I've been stalking the interwebs looking at rattie photos for the last five days!

My desires in a pocket pet:

-something friendly and inquisitive
-ability to bond with a person and enjoy interaction
-relatively low maintenance
-relatively inexpensive
-not too smelly


I used to own mice when I lived at home and really loved them, but they sure smelled. I had one PEW in particular, Mozzerella, that I called my mini dog. She was just a ham and while definitely mousey, almost acted like the descriptions that I've seen on rats. I also fostered a bunny for a period of time and while he was cuddly and cute, I don't think I'm really a rabbit person. He didn't seem to like being held. I had a friend with guinea pigs as a kid and while they would tolerate being held and played with, I never got the impression that they enjoyed it. They spent most of their days hiding in their little hut. I'm definitely not a guinea pig fan. Rats seem cool because they seem to have a lot of similarities to mice, but I've read that they're a little more trainable and bond to an owner more easily just because they're not quite so tiny.

Questions:

People say they're a bit like mini dogs. To what extent is this true?

How much do they smell? Like do you walk into the room with the cage and immediately catch a whiff? How does the smell compare to mice?

How expensive are they on a monthly basis?

In what ways are they similar to mice? In what ways are they different?

Do they seem to enjoy being handled and played with if socialized (do they come to the front of the cage or do you need to "catch" them to get them out?

Have you ever trained one to walk on a leash?

Would you recommend them?
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:07 PM
CatStina CatStina is offline
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I have never had rats, but have heard they can smell quite a bit.

I do have gerbils and I love them to bits! My gerbils only need their tank cleaned once a month and it doesn't smell. They are also very sweet and hand tamed. They have to live in same sex pairings, though, or they can get depressed and mean. My two girlies go through about a bag of food every two and a half months and I just use shredded junk mail for bedding, so that's free. I bought them from a very good breeder who hand raised them. I would get gerbils from her again in the future.

ETA: Another nice thing about gerbils is that they are diurnal, so they sleep at night and are active during the day. That means they like to hang out and play with you during the day and don't keep you up at night!
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:14 PM
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When I had rats they smelled, but then I didn't have them on the best diet (too high protein I think, it was quite a few years ago). They had killer personalities though. From what I've experienced, they are the least rodenty of the rodents if htat makes sense. They DEFINITELY come to you, though some are quite active and aren't really into being cuddled so much (males tend to be chiller)... but neither are some dogs lol. But there is no "catching" involved if you go to a good breeder (poorly bred never socialized feeder bin rats aren't your best bet for a pet). I never had a problem with them biting. I could put one on the chair beside be and he'd curl up and go to sleep... most other rodents are too active and nervous to go to sleep in the middle of a barren chair IME. I would have them now instead of my gerbils but they're too much of a commitment (I would feel bad not exercising, cuddling them etc) and they aren't the healthiest critters (quite prone to cancer and respiratory infections).

Not my video, but I think it demonstrates how "un-rodenty" they are lol

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdIpstNBX_c

Fetch:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5lHx7dp230w

Rat Basketball:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=drnnulHw5CM

lol
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:21 PM
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I dont think rats smell....actually I think they smell less than most pocket pets. Its really all on how you care for them. THey are also often able to be potty trained (or at least mostly) so that helps a lot as well.

They are very smart, very personable. In the past I had gerbils and hamsters and they IMO had nowhere near the personality that my ratties have. I usually view animals like mice more as a pet and cuddle and watch but not really interact with like a dog or cat...rats interact like dogs and cats.

Monthly they really arent too expensive....BUT vet bills can be an issue if they get sick
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:25 PM
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People say they're a bit like mini dogs. To what extent is this true? I would say it's true. They definitely love and bond with people, are very trainable, will actually play with you rather than on you like most rodents, and are very affectionate.

How much do they smell? Like do you walk into the room with the cage and immediately catch a whiff? How does the smell compare to mice? If you clean the cage well once a week and you have a large wire cage, it shouldn't be too noticeable. Male mice smell worse than rats. Female rats have no odor in my experience, while my males smelled like grape soda.

How expensive are they on a monthly basis? Bedding is about $12, and food is very inexpensive; I go through one bag every couple of months, in addition to fresh fruits, vegetables, and cereal that I give them.

In what ways are they similar to mice? In what ways are they different? I've never kept mice, but I've been around them, and they aren't all that similar, from what I've seen. Mice seem to be more like hamsters in that, while they can be hand tamed and affectionate, they aren't as social and needy of human attention as rats. You can keep male rats together, while that is a no no with mice. Rats are also less jumpy and not nearly as fragile, as they are quite a bit bigger.

Do they seem to enjoy being handled and played with if socialized (do they come to the front of the cage or do you need to "catch" them to get them out? If I am in the room, mine are at the front, begging to come out. If they are hanging out with me on the bed and another person walks in, they will go to the edge of the bed and try to get to the new person. They LOVE people. The males are much more affectionate, while the females are more playful. Mine were like this right off the bat; I've never had to "tame" them. My old rat, Brutus, would sleep in my lap while I did school work or watched TV.

Have you ever trained one to walk on a leash? I personally haven't, but I know people have.

Would you recommend them? YES! Brutus was the best pet I've ever had, and I've loved all my other rats as well. They are much more interactive than the gerbils I used to keep, as well as the guinea pigs, hamsters, and mice friends and family have had. If you want something that loves to be held, I'd get a male. I love my girlies, but I think I'll go back to males next time.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoingNowhere View Post
People say they're a bit like mini dogs. To what extent is this true?

Depends on how you view rats vs. dogs, I guess. They are trainable, and I suppose that is a large difference. They will come to their name, they can be potty trained to an extent, they love nothing more than you hang out and play with you, generally very loyal animals. I'd say they are like mini dogs...but horses are also like really BIG puppydogs. So, really, it just boils down to how you look at it.

How much do they smell? Like do you walk into the room with the cage and immediately catch a whiff? How does the smell compare to mice?
I had 5 rats and only one mouse, but they both stunk like cat pee if you did not keep up on their cage cleaning. Just how it is with most animals. The boys generally stink more than the girls, but with regular baths, good diet, and often cage cleaning....it's no biggie. Most people didn't know we had rats until they actually stuck their head in the cage.

How expensive are they on a monthly basis?
Not too bad. Litter...food. That's about it. And food is fairly simple. You can make a huge batch of mash (veggie mix + other stuff) freeze it, then take out smaller baggies each week. Pretty cheap. They can eat nearly anything, and are biologically scavengers...so their diet isn't too strict, although it is like dogs. Better nutrition, best health, appearance and smell overall. Vetting can be a bit pricey, though, depending on your vet.

In what ways are they similar to mice? In what ways are they different?

My mousey was a crazy bitch that was constantly running away. But my rattie girls were all super snuggly lover bugs.

Do they seem to enjoy being handled and played with if socialized (do they come to the front of the cage or do you need to "catch" them to get them out?
Definitely. They actually say that if you do not have the time to give them around 18 hours of your day, then get 2 so they can socialize. They are VERY VERY social animals that love attention and lovin's.

Have you ever trained one to walk on a leash?
Never had a need to, they all had pretty good recall and I only ever took them out in the backyard. I've heard of people training them to a leash and harness, though. Most rats I know live in hoodie hoods or pockets, though.

Would you recommend them?
To someone who will put the time into it, definitely.
Answers in purple. Because I'm feeling purple today.

I'll come back and post pics in a few.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:38 PM
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Bah I want one! I need to stop looking at youtube videos.
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:43 PM
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Bah I want one! I need to stop looking at youtube videos.
More than one
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
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More than one

haha two then!
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Old 01-14-2013, 07:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GoingNowhere View Post
haha two then!
They should be in groups so two is good
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