Is a rat the right pet for you?

Rats are highly intelligent and make very friendly pets. They can play games and even learn tricks.

Rats can become depressed if they are ignored and not given attention so you’ll need to spend plenty of time with them. If you don’t have a lot of time for your pet, think about getting a different small animal. Mice, gerbils and hamsters are all happy with less human interaction.

Rats naturally want to explore and are a lot less nervous than other small pets, such as mice, hamsters and rabbits. They very rarely bite and their larger size makes them easier to hold.

Rats are really intelligent – they enjoy training sessions and can even learn tricks. To stop them getting bored, you can set up obstacle course in their cage and watch as they work out their way around.

Does your rat need a friend?

Although rats enjoy human company, they’ll also need other ratty friends to be happy. It’s best to keep rats from the same litter together as they’re less likely to fight. It’s also best to keep rats of the same gender together - boy with boys and girls with girls – so you don’t end up with lots of unplanned baby rats to rehome.

If your rats aren’t from the same litter you should introduce them to each other carefully. Let them meet for a small amount of time at first, in a neutral area outside their cages. Gradually let them spend more and more time together until you’re sure they’re getting along. They’ll usually become the best of friends!

Rats like to play fight and this is nothing to worry about. If you think your rats are fighting for real, you’ll need to separate them. You can read more about how to tell if your rats are fighting on out rat health page.

Things to consider

Before you commit to getting a rat, read our vets advice on:

  • Giving your rat the ideal home – advice on the type of enclosure they need.
  • Rat health – find out how to stop your rat getting bored, what to do if you think your rats are fighting, and signs of illness to look out for.
  • Your rat’s diet – read about the kind of food your rats should be eating and how to keep them in shape.
  • How to hold a rat safely – a guide to how adults and children should hold rats.