By Julia Furmanek 

I loved my new apartment. I loved having my own little kitchen, making my own pot of coffee in the morning and decorating my own front stoop. But, it wasn’t home: I really missed my dog.

I had gotten so used to being with him all the time over the summer that just a few days into the semester, I was already feeling a void in his absence.

It isn’t a good time for me to have a dog of my own. To start, I can’t really afford one. I also don’t really know where I’ll be five years from now, let alone 10, and that kind of instability can be hard on an animal.

It seemed like I’d have to wait a while to adopt a pet of my own — until a few weeks ago, when a friend of mine told me she was going to pick up some baby rats.

I’d never really considered owning rats before. Growing up, I had my share of hamsters and guinea pigs, but that seemed different: hamsters don’t have creepily long tails. But my friend was really excited about her new pets and when I came over to meet them, I understood why.

These little creatures were nothing like the vermin I’d seen scuttling across campus after dark. Not only were they soft, bright-eyed and very clean looking, but they were fascinating to watch. By the end of the night, I was set on adopting some rats of my own.

Now my girls Peach and Plum have settled in beautifully to their new home, and I couldn’t be happier.

Here’s a list of things I’ve really enjoyed about my new pets. Hopefully this inspires you to bring these creatures into your life as well. 

Rats are really friendly

Unlike hamsters, which tend to take a long time to get used to their owners, rats are very social beings and will come right up to you. From their first night at home onward, my girls let me pet them and even ate right out of my hand.

They are easy to feed

Rats are scavengers and can eat nearly anything you’d find in your pantry. This makes it really easy to give them little treats and frees you from having to buy food specific to them. Just make sure to offer a wide variety of foods to meet all of their basic nutritional needs. 

Rats are easy to train

Rats are highly intelligent — they’re even able to learn words, like their names. My girls learned fast. Within a week I taught them to crawl out onto my shoulder. 

Keeping them busy will keep you busy 

Because rats are such smart and active animals, they require extra attention to keep them occupied. I reconfigure my rats’ cage every few days just to change up their environment, make new toys for them out of old containers and set up mazes for them to run through when they are free-roaming. As it turns out, this is as entertaining for me as it is for them. 

They will bond to specific individuals

After just a few days, my rats began to recognize my voice. Now they come to the edge of their cage when they hear me coming and seem quite happy to see me. 

Having pet rats has been really fun and I think it is an experience worth having. If you are looking for a companion with limited commitment and maximum sociability, consider adopting some of these creatures. You won’t regret it. 

Comments are closed.