rabbott1971

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Following the tragic death of our bearded dragon, my daughter and I are strongly considering adopting a couple of female rats for new pets.

Does anyone have thoughts about rats as pets? I've heard they're great pets, but if not, don't let me make a huge mistake.
 
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kcoughli

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Yes! Pet rats are great! Females tend to stay smaller and smell less than males. They can be super cuddly and actually trainable to an extent if you put the time into them. I loved my pet rats.
 
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Caiter92

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Just be prepared that they usually don't live very long -- average lifespan is maybe 3 years or so. But they can make great pets and are very smart.
Average generally around two unfortunately, especially with unspayed ladies. Mammary tumors are super common :/

I've had many rats over the years, and I'd definitely would love to have some again. They're very social animals, so at minimum you need a pair. They're very active and curious, so they need very large cages (wire--no tanks) and lots of things to keep them entertained (you can always go the toilet paper tubes, cardboard boxes, etc route to help make it cheaper). Plus out time to explore. You can pretty easily "rat proof" a bathroom for this.

They're really prone to respiratory infections, and vet care can add up for them. If you can swing it, I'd definitely recommend getting them spayed. Mammary tumors get huge on these guys compared to there body size. Like golf ball size or bigger.

They're great pets, but they're going to be much more involved than a reptile so keep that in mind.
 
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rabbott1971

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Thanks! Actually the relatively short lifespan is working for me. I am not ready to take on a ten-fifteen year commitment. I think we are going to go for it.

Having said that, can you guys please let me know, is there any reason why we could not use the 40-gallon tank which the lizard formerly occupied, instead of a cage? In all the pet stores these animals seem to be in tanks, but maybe there is some opposition to tanks for rats? Thanks
 
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Average generally around two unfortunately, especially with unspayed ladies. Mammary tumors are super common :/

I've had many rats over the years, and I'd definitely would love to have some again. They're very social animals, so at minimum you need a pair. They're very active and curious, so they need very large cages (wire--no tanks) and lots of things to keep them entertained (you can always go the toilet paper tubes, cardboard boxes, etc route to help make it cheaper). Plus out time to explore. You can pretty easily "rat proof" a bathroom for this.

They're really prone to respiratory infections, and vet care can add up for them. If you can swing it, I'd definitely recommend getting them spayed. Mammary tumors get huge on these guys compared to there body size. Like golf ball size or bigger.

They're great pets, but they're going to be much more involved than a reptile so keep that in mind.
Why are tanks not the best? Grr at buying a new thing and wasting an old one....
 

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Why are tanks not the best? Grr at buying a new thing and wasting an old one....
It's not even that they're not the best, they shouldn't be used at all for rats. Really poor airflow and ammonia is going to build up fast. Like I said, they're very, very prone to respiratory infections and a tank will build up irritants and make this more likely.
 
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If you want something to live in a tank, hamsters, gerbils and mice do well in them and they're usually recommended (at least for hamsters and gerbils) so they can burrow.
 
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But But But all the pet stores have their rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc. in tanks!!! Is it not OK even if we did something to help with air flow like have a fan blowing across the top? Keep in mind this is a tank with a screen top, where the lizard heat lamp and UV light used to rest.
 

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But But But all the pet stores have their rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc. in tanks!!! Is it not OK even if we did something to help with air flow like have a fan blowing across the top? Keep in mind this is a tank with a screen top, where the lizard heat lamp and UV light used to rest.
Pet stores are not good resources for animal care. For example, many hamster species should be housed solitary due to fighting, and they'll cram a bunch in very small tanks at the store. I can send you some resources for rat care, but there isn't a way to make a tank proper housing for them unfortunately.
 
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rabbott1971

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Pet stores are not good resources for animal care. For example, many hamster species should be housed solitary due to fighting, and they'll cram a bunch in very small tanks at the store. I can send you some resources for rat care, but there isn't a way to make a tank proper housing for them unfortunately.
Fudge. Well if the cage is in my daughter's room is it going to be noisy at night, or smelly?
 

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Fudge. Well if the cage is in my daughter's room is it going to be noisy at night, or smelly?
They'll be active at night, but I always had mine in my room and it didn't keep me up. Shouldn't be smelly. Carefresh is a good bedding and if you're cleaning frequently and the cage is big enough (once a week should be enough, might need to spot clean more often depending on them), odor shouldn't be an issue.
 
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Fudge. Well if the cage is in my daughter's room is it going to be noisy at night, or smelly?
I definitely had to make some toys daytime -only toys because they'd make noise with them, but it was mostly fine. Smelliness is entirely dependent on bedding choices and cleaning habits.

They are fun pets. I'd say they're smart, but when i had done i had one smart rat and one that was very, very dim. I did at least manage to train him to stand and poke his head up over the back of my laptop to get attention instead of walking on my keyboard.
 
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kcoughli

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@Caiter92 gave really good advice about husbandry. I will add on to this that if you're considering mice, know that mouse urine is incredibly smelly (especially male mouse urine) so be prepared for that. That being said, I think rats are a better pet in general.

Second the sentiment about wire cages vs tanks. I had this type of set up for my rats (back when I had rats):
upload_2017-8-30_17-20-3.png
It worked fairly well and I didn't have any problems with respiratory issues. They really like vertical climbing space if you can swing it. Also just an FYI pelleted food for rats is generally healthier (as opposed to the seed mixes which are fattier and less nutritionally balanced).
 

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rabbott1971

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Oooh that looks cool! I could get the wire top part and still use the big tank I already have. Its definitely rats, I have applied to adopt two.
 

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But But But all the pet stores have their rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, etc. in tanks!!! Is it not OK even if we did something to help with air flow like have a fan blowing across the top? Keep in mind this is a tank with a screen top, where the lizard heat lamp and UV light used to rest.
You also have to remember that the animals in pet stores aren't meant to be there long. In our and other small family stores, mice and rats are normally bought as food, and so aren't in the store longer than two or three days at most. They also get handled by us types a day, which helps keep ventilation concerns at bay. We keep them in tanks, but sell them with the hamster set up if they are bought as pets. If a sales employee is trying to sell them to you in a tank, walk out the door.

However, I can't speak for large stores like Petco or PetSmart.
 
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@Caiter92 gave really good advice about husbandry. I will add on to this that if you're considering mice, know that mouse urine is incredibly smelly (especially male mouse urine) so be prepared for that. That being said, I think rats are a better pet in general.

Second the sentiment about wire cages vs tanks. I had this type of set up for my rats (back when I had rats):
View attachment 223128
It worked fairly well and I didn't have any problems with respiratory issues. They really like vertical climbing space if you can swing it. Also just an FYI pelleted food for rats is generally healthier (as opposed to the seed mixes which are fattier and less nutritionally balanced).
Nice setup. Never seen one like that. Smart how the wire top attached to the aquarium base.
 
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neocia

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Please do not keep rats in a 40 gallon tank! That is too small for how active they are and the air flow, as others have said, is not appropriate, even with a mesh top, even with a fan in the room, etc etc. Rats - both male and female - tend to mark with urine as they walk and the smell can get quite strong, even within a day or with frequent cage cleanings.

Ideally rats should have a very large cage (check out the brand 'CritterNation') and always live in same sex pairs or trios, as they are highly social animals. Even with ample play time from their owners, that simply doesn't replace having another ratty as a friend for the majority of the time they'll be spending in their cage.

If you're looking for a pet that would 'fit' in a 40 gallon tank, please consider adopting another reptile :) Small mammals and tanks don't mix well due to their sensitive respiratory tracts!
 
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I had rats for a while and while a tank can work for them it's not ideal. Plus they like to climb a lot and an aquarium isn't exactly made for that.

Overall, you have to clean their cage almost every day to keep it from smelling, but they're great pets and super cuddly and friendly and awesome.
 
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