Ramsey is the latest addition to the family, my beautiful pet rat! No doubt some of you just cringed; well let me assure you he is disease free and just as good (if not better) a companion then a dog or a cat. I got Ramsey just before Christmas 2013 from a friend who works in a local pet shop. He was the last of a litter and getting old and he knew I was on the lookout for a new furry friend so asked if I was on for giving him a home. I couldn’t leave the poor boy on his own so didn’t hesitate to say yes!
Rats should always be housed in pairs or groups as they are very social animals and can get lonely. I give Ramsey lots of attention every day and whenever I am home he gets free run of my bedroom and sometimes gets the chance to explore the other rooms as well. He will usually spend half an hour at a time running around, climbing, playing and trouble making before retreating back to his bed for one of several naps a day.
Rats are extremely intelligent animals and they form strong bonds with their companions be it other rats, humans or sometimes even other species of animals. With pet rats you have to really earn their trust. When I first got Ramsey he was very shy, he would hide in his bed whenever I approached and when the cage was open he would look out for a while before going back into hiding. With time and patience he began to get more curious and brave. Now I can’t open his cage quick enough, he is already waiting to be let out to play. He is still a little shy when it comes to handling, but he knows who his mammy is and is starting to trust me more each day.
Enrichment is very important when keeping rats as they get bored easily. Ramsey isn’t too interested in toys but he does love to climb and explore. I hide treats for him around the room and even in a shallow tub of water, he doesn’t mind getting wet. Most rats love to swim but need to be introduced slowly to water as they will be cautious of new experiences. Gradually I am filling the tub with more water and will get him a larger tub soon. You can also teach rats a whole range of fun tricks, which can be as fun for them as it is for you. Just make sure that trust is established first and be patient with them.
Rats get a lot of bad press, but trust me they make great companions and are very clean animals, much more so then dogs. I wouldn’t trade my little guy in for the world. Remember as with all pets make 100% sure you can offer them a forever home, no excuses later on down the line.
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