Why Not Buy A Rat As Your Child’s First Pet?


A Rat Climbing on a StringIf you have a child of a certain age, it’s almost a certainty that she has been begging for a kitten or a puppy.  Getting a puppy or a kitten, however, involves a lot of work for Mom or Dad, as well as a ten-to-fifteen year commitment for a pet that your child may ultimately decide is far less interesting than her play station or computer.  Rather than get a pet that you aren’t able to keep, or deny your child the joys of owning a pet, why not buy your child a rat?  Despite their unsavory—and wholly undeserved reputation—as well as those cringe-inducing hairless tails, rats make excellent pets.


  1. Rats have a two-to-three year lifespan. While this may appear to be detrimental, a short lifespan is a plus for a first pet.  Three years isn’t long for a pet that your child actually enjoys and takes care of, but it can seem like a decade for a pet that gets foisted off on Mom and Dad.  Caring for a rat is also a good way to gauge whether your child would actually be interested in having/caring for a more labor-intensive pet.Rat Holding a Toy
  2. Rats are clean and easy to care for. Rats, like most rodents, will clean themselves.  Rodents as a whole are also extremely easy to care for.  They live in a confined space, which means that their messes are automatically contained.
  3. Rats bite less often than all of the other common household rodent species. Rats don’t bite as much as mice, hamsters, guinea pigs and gerbils are liable to do.
  4. Rats are bigger than hamsters or mice. Sometimes, young children in particular will accidentally kill mice or hamsters while trying to catch them because they’re so little.  Rats are heftier, which means that children will have an easier time holding them.
  5. Rats are more sociable than many other rodents. Your hamster or mouse will likely tolerate being handled, but never anything more than that.  Hamsters or mice do not get attached to their owners, and are not very sociable.  If handled properly, rats enjoy spending time with their humans, and are more engaging and entertaining pets than most other rodent species.
  6. Rats are more intelligent than most other rodent species. In some cases, you can even train your rat.

Sleeping Rat Clutching a Toy

As with any pet, when you get a rat, you are making a commitment to the animal.  You should never get a pet if you can’t provide the appropriate level of care, or if you know that you won’t be able to keep the animal.  Impress upon your child the responsibilities inherent in owning a pet—pets may be fun, but they also involve a lot of work.


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