Comfort for Critters

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Rats Make Great Pets. Really!

The Fancy Rat is the most common type of pet rat in the US. It's actually a domesticated brown rat, but gets the name "Fancy" (as in "to fancy") since it is so likeable. Still with me?

These critters are physiologically and psychologically quite different from their wild relatives, and have been specifically bred as pets for at least the last century. They pose no more of a health risk than any other common pet, and have lost any aggressiveness which can be seen in wild rats.

Fancy Rats are the smartest of all small pets and can learn their names, as well as simple tricks. They have tons of energy and are quite fun to watch play. They are clean, intelligent, affectionate animals which bond to their pet-parents, the same way all our wonderful pets do.

I’ve never lived with a pet rat, but I have been a babysitter to one for about a week. Within days he was attached to me and quite affectionate. As I got ready for the day, he’d run around the room I was in and after a few minutes drape himself across my feet, as I stood at the sink. I realize some people might find that creepy, but all I can tell you is that it was super-cute!

I did see after just a few days with him, why they are considered a “high-maintenance" pet. Because of their high intelligence, they need a minimum of one hour a day outside of their enclosures to run around and play. This would also help them burn off some of their “high energy”! They also do have the typical smell of a rodent, though it’s not oppressive. Frequent enclosure cleanings will help quite a bit with the smell. As a comparison, the only rodent I’ve ever found to have no smell at all is guinea pigs, which I highly recommend as well.

So if you’re willing to put the stereotypes and phobias aside, this may be the pet for you. It’s a bit out of the ordinary for sure, but it just might be time to make your home a tad more "fancy"...with a rat!

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