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Choosing Pet Rats

When choosing pet rats, you need to make sure you are getting not only a healthy animal, but the right pet for your situation. Consider carefully the gender of the animal, the appearance, the temperament, and most important, whether or not a rat is the right pet for you. Once you have decided on these factors, choosing pet rats that are healthy is the last important step.

Choosing pet rats should never be done impulsively. Be sure to research the amount of care and size of habitat they require, as well as feeding and grooming needs, before choosing pet rats. Rats like to climb and generally enjoy cages more than tanks as habitats. Make sure the bars of the cage are close together enough to prevent the animals from escaping or from getting stuck trying to escape. Cages with solid floors are preferable to those with wire floors, since they are easier on the rats’ feet. Consider the time commitment needed when choosing pet rats; rats should be allowed at least an hour a day of exercise outside their cages.

Rats are very social animals and often thrive when kept in same-sex pairs. This is an important consideration to keep in mind when choosing pet rats. Male rats are often considered lazier or more laid-back than females, and are often said to make good lap pets. Female rats, on the other hand, tend to be more active and playful than male rats. Females go into heat every four or five days and may be especially restless during this time. Consider these basic temperament differences when deciding which gender is right for you.

For some pet owners, appearance is very important. When choosing pet rats, you need to decide whether or not the way the animal looks matters to you. If color or coat pattern are important to you, decide before looking at any animals whether or not this is important enough to pass on entire litters of rats, or if it falls under the category of a preference rather than a “deal-breaker.”

Good health is of paramount importance when choosing pet rats. Be sure that the animals have clean, clear eyes with no cloudiness or discharge. Listen to the rats’ breathing, to be sure there is no rasping or wheezing. Breathing problems can be a sign of mycoplasma, a contagious and incurable respiratory infection. Watch how the rats interact with one another, and observe them moving to be sure there are no signs of lameness or irregular movements. Pick up any potential pets to feel their abdomens for lumps, which could be indicative of tumors, and to test how they respond to being handled.

Finally, when choosing pet rats be sure to note their personalities. As with many other types of pets, it is often the rats that choose the humans and not the other way around. Look for the rats that seem to seek you out, draw your attention, and begin to bond right away.

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