We are about to get our third batch of pet rats. Get two, get siblings, get them young.
Two years ago, when my son was five, we got two sisters. Norman and Desiree(yes Norman was a girl…naming pets is not my son’s strong suit) They were about 5 weeks old when we got them and we have had a lot of fun with them. They play, nestle and burrow in hoodies and the like.
Norman had a stroke this summer and passed away. Desiree was lonely so I did a “rescue” of someone who was giving pets away on Kijiji* these were male rats, bigger, smellier, greasier (male rats secrete something called “buck grease”) and they had not been socialized well. One was a Pink eyed white, the other two were hooded Agoutis like N&D. These boys have been a challenge, they still aren’t very amenable to being held, they aren’t soft and cuddly, but they have become gentler with lots of time and two will allow petting. Males have very prominent testicles, and when they are young they are not covered in fur, so ummm, be prepared to explain.
I never had pets growing up, but the man of the house had all kinds of gerbils, hamsters, etc and he said rats are the most fun of any small pet he ever had.
The boys fight with each other, and are very territorial.
Desiree is getting frail, so in the next week or so we are getting another set of girl rats. This will be a challenge because I have to tell my son repeatedly that the new girls will not be allowed in the boy’s cage. (After a few weeks we realized Desiree was already past littering age so she lives with the boys.)
There are some rat message boards but be careful, they are full of people who
want you to buy specially formulated rat food, and have a very holier than thou attitude about pet store rats.
So in summary, get them young, get siblings, I like girls rather than boys, but I am sure either will do well. You can train them to poop in a small litter pan, and feed them rat pellets and some table scraps. Mine love banana, pizza crust, and chicken bone wings, which are great for keeping their teeth from overgrowing.
Feel free to ask more if you have questions, or email me.
*The people in the ad told me they had two girls. They dropped off three boys. The cage was dirty, the rats were dirty and smelly, and they wanted me to take the rats two days earlier than I was prepared for because "we are going camping and will maybe let them loose [!] if you can’t take them.