15 Rats Cute Enough to Give Remy a Run for His Money
We're convinced that whoever started the rumor that rats are vermin was trying to keep them all to themselves because does that face look like vermin to you?
We didn't think so. These cute rats are here to prove to the world that rats are one of the best (and most photogenic) small pets ever.
This Baby Giraffe Is the Picture of Innocence
That's because rats are way more innocent than pop culture would lead you to believe. Sure, rats can overpopulate and spread disease, but that's true of tons of small mammals.
Even your history lessons about the bubonic plague may be off. You were probably taught that rats were responsible for spreading the plague, but it's more likely that humans were responsible.
Snuggles? For Me? Yes, Please!
When kept in captivity, rats are actually quite clean. They're cleaner than the average toddler, for sure. Much like cats, rats groom themselves for hours each day. If given access to a water dish, they'll even perch on the side and wash themselves with water like a bird in a bird bath.
If they're kept with a rat buddy, the two will even groom each other as part of social bonding.
And This Cute Little Rat Just Wants a Snack
Unfortunately for him, donuts are off-limits for rodents. The best rat food is one similar to their natural diet in the wild. A well-balanced rat food from the pet store will do just fine.
Mouse food is an acceptable substitute, but steer clear of hamster or gerbil food, as it doesn't usually meet the needs of rats well enough.
Candy Canes Probably Aren’t Part of a Balanced Rat Diet, but We’ll Let It Slide
Again, human treats aren't the best idea for pet rats, but some types of human food can be offered to supplement a healthy rat diet. You're welcome to offer certain fruits and veggies, yogurt, brown rice and even whole wheat pasta or unsweetened cereal to your rat.
The more variety, the better. An occasional morsel of food from the dinner table is probably OK, but keep that to a minimum to prolong their life.
Snuggles With a Rat Bestie Are Even Better
Rats are very social, so keeping them with a few friends is a great idea. Sometimes, pairs can get annoyed with each other, so larger groups are preferable.
Getting them spayed or neutered is tricky, so stick with same-sex groups to avoid waking up to several cute, unexpected surprises.
Whisk(er) Her off Her Feet With a Surprise Pet Rat
Actually, don't do that. Surprising anyone with a pet is a terrible idea, unless that person has requested the pet or you're that person's parent. In that case, go right ahead.
Pet rats are, in many ways, the best first small pet for kids. They're more interactive than mice and hamsters, easier to handle, hardier and smarter, and the level of care is roughly the same.
You Can Even Dress Them up in Funny Hats
Rats are unlikely to keep their costumes on for long, but it sure makes an adorable Christmas card. If you start out with one rat and decide to introduce a companion or two, there's a right and a wrong way to do so.
Start by choosing a neutral location, like a cat carrier or an empty terrarium, for the rats to meet. Put some bedding on the bottom of it, along with some food and a water dish. Add all of the rats at the same time, and watch carefully to see how they interact. After some initial hustle and bustle, and possibly some coat fluffing and squeaking, they'll likely settle into a pecking order and relax.
Keep them in this neutral location for at least 24 hours before moving them to their larger habitat. Add in enrichment items, like hammocks and tunnels, once activity has calmed down and they're content to sleep near each other.
They Don’t Need Any Accessories to Be Adorable, Though
We could kiss that little nose all day, even though it belongs to a creature that's genetically the same as a New York sewer rat. Most pet rats are Norway rats, which are the same kind of rats commonly found running wild on the streets.
They're usually between 9 and 11 inches in length, with a 7- to 9-inch tail. Their larger size compared to mice or hamsters makes them easier for kids to handle safely (with supervision, of course).
Seriously, Look at This Pile of Cuteness
So, so much cuteness. So much. Unless you want to have this much cuteness take over your entire house, keeping rats in same-sex groups really is a must.
Female rats can have up to six litters a year, each with anywhere from five to 10 pups. Some have up to 12 at a time. Since rats reach sexual maturity at just over a month old, only a few rats can turn into over 1,000 in a single year. Not so cute then, eh?
Oh No, Our Hearts Are Melting
As cute as this furry nugget may be, don't get a rat unless you're interested in spending a good amount of time interacting with them each day. Rats need at least an hour of time out of their cage daily, preferably playing with people.
This gives them both the exercise they need to stay healthy and the social interaction they need to bond with you.
We Usually Don’t Let Anyone Borrow Our Shoes, but We’ll Make an Exception
On second thought, this might not be the best idea. Rats have excellent bladder control. They often pick one corner to use as a bathroom, and they can easily be trained to use a small litter box with paper cat litter. They also urinate to mark their territory, though, so they might pee on things that smell like you to tell other rats, "This human is mine."
It's a compliment, albeit a smelly one.
Give This Fur Baby All the Cheese He Wants
Scratch that. We're not sure how rodents got the reputation for adoring cheese, but they don't see it as anything special.
They'll eat it, but they're more likely to see berries or unsweetened cornflakes as a treat than a cube of cheddar.
If Reincarnation Is Real, We’d Like to Come Back as a Pampered Pet Rat
Specifically, a long-haired rat. Yes, those exist. The Harley rat is one variation of rat that has exceptionally long, fine, fluffy fur. The line is named after Harley, a rat with long fur who gave birth to five babies, four of which inherited her exceptional coat.
In addition to Harley rats, there are also rex rats, which have curly fur; satin coat rats, with silky fur; and sphynx rats, which have no fur at all.
Did Someone Say Stilton?
Those long, inquisitive whiskers are good for a lot more than sniffing out snacks. Rat noses are more than four times as sensitive as human noses and about 30 percent more sensitive than those of canines. Their sniffers are so powerful that they've been used in parts of Africa to find and clear landmines. They're too small to set them off, so they're able to lead people to their location without any risk to themselves.
They're also adept at identifying people infected with tuberculosis. They're even more accurate at spotting it than microscope tests!
There are only a few major downsides to owning a pet rat. Firstly, rats are nocturnal, so they spend most of the day sleeping. Because of this, it's best to keep their cage in an area that doesn't get a ton of daytime traffic. They wake up around dawn and dusk, however, so there's still plenty of time to play with them during waking hours.
The bigger bummer? They only live about two years, on average. Some live until 2.5, or even three, but they're not going to match the lifespan of a bunny or guinea pig. Sigh. On the upside, if you're new to rat ownership, the commitment isn't too daunting.
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