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Rats Aren’t Yucky: The Benefits of Having a Pet Rat

There is a huge difference between a wild city rat and a pet fancy rat! Pet rats cannot transmit a lot of the same diseases that wild rats can, and respectable breeders have their babies tested for illnesses, like the Hanta virus, before they are allowed to go to a new home. Pet rats are bred for temperament and companionship and do not exhibit any wild characteristics, other than really liking human food!

Pet rats are clean, smart, and make wonderful companions. From being great therapy animals, to helping find and deactivate land mines, animal lovers would be wise to give a pet rat a chance! Their companionship is highly rewarding and there is a good reason why the rat is the first animal of the Chinese Zodiac. Here are some amazing things about pet rats that may (or may not!) surprise you.

  • 1. They can learn tricks, including their names and are pretty easy to train. They can also be litter trained with good motivation.
  • 2. They are actually very clean animals and spend hours during the day grooming themselves and their cage mates.
  • 3. Rats are very affectionate and cuddly! They really enjoy getting time out of their cages to spend with you and are very social animals.
  • 4. Rats are actually less likely to bite than other small furry animals because of their intelligence!

These are just a few of the many wonderful things about pet rats, but, keep in mind there are a few downfalls as well, such as longevity and potential medical costs because they need a special vet. No one pet has a perfect score, but pet rats get as close as possible and really do make great companions, especially for children.

If the topic hasn’t scared you off, there will be a chance to meet a pet rat at the Islip Public Library on Monday March 12, a handsome year and a half old male rat named Marshmallow, aka Mooshie. Why don’t you come down and meet him! He’ll be in the Children’s Room with me, his human.

For additional information on heroRATS and all of the amazing things they do, visit apopo.org

Stacie Barell

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