I am rat. Hear me squeak.

Back in my college days, I was owned by a delightful rat I named Jasmine. She went everywhere with me, including Economics class. (Having long hair and conspiratorial friends helped a lot!) Back in those relative “dark ages,” it was hard to find reliable information about maintaining them as pets, but I must have done something right because even though she was an adult when I got her, she lived five wonderful years with me. I wasn’t ready to get another right after her death, and then one situation after another conspired to prevent me from feeling like it was the right time for another.

Everyone around me knew I had wanted another rat, so I shouldn’t have been surprising when the grapevine told me about a hairless male that was looking for a home. A vet involved in raptor rescue had received him as a feeder, but he so enchanted both her and her assistant that they decided he couldn’t be fed to the hawk. Neither felt they could keep him, so they put the word out. I decided this was the sign I needed, so I agreed to take him. He lived several hours’ drive from me, so I adopted him sight unseen.

I set up a cage so full of toys it more closely resembled a baby’s crib, and waited. And waited. And waited.

Turned out the vet tech wasn’t quite ready to let him go, and after weeks of staring at the empty cage I decided to go ahead and get a young furred male. I had planned from the start to get one as a companion for the hairless - even named them Adam and Jamie - so all I was doing was reversing the order I’d get them in. And if the hairless placement didn’t come through, as it looked like it wouldn’t, I’d just go out and buy a second male later. Right? Right?

That’s how Adam One joined the family

He was the smallest rat I’d ever seen sold alive, and won over even the most rat-phobic members of the family immediately. One teeny tiny rat, one giant cage full of full-sized rat toys, and insane amounts of cuddling and bruxing. He reminded me of just how much I’d loved my Jazzy, and how much fun a rat can be. Then I heard that I was getting my hairless after all. There was much rejoicing throughout the house.

When the hairless arrived, the only thing I could think was:

SHE was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen.

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, both a vet and a vet tech misidentified the gender of a hairless rat. Jamie turned out to be absolutely as delightful as promised, but it was immediately apparent that she’s also the most hyper ADHD rat you’ll ever meet. Merge the speed of a Thoroughbred with the reflexes of a mongoose and the drive of a Fortune 50 CEO, and you’ll get the basic idea. There was no way she was going to manage without the companionship of another rat.

That’s why laid back, cuddle bug Eve joined the family

I had seen Eve while “rat shopping” for Adam, loved her, but at the time wasn’t looking for a female. Clearly the fates had other plans, and a sense of humor (she was originally destined as snake food). The girls bonded almost immediately, and much mischief was made. But what about lonely Adam?

At first, we thought Adam’s strong social bonds with humans would be enough to sustain him. That was before he began demanding four hours or more a day with his humans. We started joking that he was more of a fashion accessory than a pet. Now, I adore my rats, but I do occasionally have to accomplish tasks that are not assisted by the presence of even a well-behaved rodent on my shoulder.

Meet Lucas. He really is supposed to look like “that,” which is to say, a space alien refugee. I’ve even heard one of the local vet techs confirm to another “It’s a rat! Really, it’s a rat!”

Now collectively known as the Twitchy Nose Brigade, they’ve brought me more joy than words can possibly express. If you live in the NW burbs and happen to see a pet store shopper with a snazzy leopard print fleece bag around her neck, which looks almost but not quite like a purse, be sure to stop me and say Hi to whichever Brigade member happens to be inside.

Enough talking. You’re here for the pictures, right? Well, here they are!

When Habitat for Humanity put this hut on their “free” pile, do you think they anticipated it would become a home … for a rat?

Shhh… glimpses of the Jamie rat holding still are rare and precious

Is that a dove egg I smell?
(Note: my girls are some of the sweetest, gentlest animals you’ll ever meet - unless there’s a dove egg involved. Then they transform into Great White Sharks feeding on sea lions. All I have to do is walk near the bird cage for Jamie to plaster herself against the glass in anticipation).


Where did my sweet baby rat go? Who is this giant changeling?

Unclear on the concept of “exercise wheel”

There’s my sweet baby rat! He hasn’t entirely been subsumed by the rapidly growing changeling

Leapin’ Lucas!


See mom, I washed my face like a good boy!

Life is all about the hunt for food


Thanks for the pics! I would love to have a ratty but my feline overlords won’t allow it.


I don’t believe I’ve ever seen a hairless rat before. Consider me educated! :slight_smile:

SnakesCatsLady, if you ever succumb to rattie temptation and wish to foil the dastardly plans of your feline overlord, house the rodents in aquariums with screen covers. My proven mouse-killer lives in frustrated hope I’ll forget to secure the lid some day, but otherwise, she’s pretty good with them. For some reason, neither of my males has even the slightest clue anything would want to hurt them, and they’ll walk right up to her and hold out their paws to the glass to make friends. Fortunately, my girls are smarter.

Sunspace, believe it or not, there are two different kinds of hairless rats, caused by unrelated genes. Technically Jamie and Lucas are “double rexes” whose relative hairlessness is caused by inheriting the rex gene from both parents. That’s why they have peach fuzz and curly whiskers. (Eve is an example of a rex, but although she’s a delightful pet, she’s a bad rex. Her coat texture should resemble a Brillo pad). There are also “true” hairless rats, which lack even the peach fuzz and may even lack whiskers; if they have whiskers, they’re straight. It’s worth Googling up some pictures of them; as freaky as most people find the appearance of Jamie and Lucas, true hairless rats are generally even stranger looking.

I feel like such a rat geek! :smiley:

Since Adam and Eve are both dumbos, are you planning to breed them?

For a while some of our girls were hosed in a ferret cage (plastic bottom half, wire top half) and one of the rats would constantly play with the momcat. Momcat would wait at the corner of the cage until the rat poked her nose out between the bars. At that point momcat would bat at the rat (with retracted claws), the rat would jump back, then poke her nose out on the other side of the corner of the cage. I would have never trusted them together without the cage, not even under close supervision, but the two of them played that way for over a year and a half until the rat got too old to keep up her end of the game.

Since we are showing off Rexes - here’s Magic, my Cornish Rex overlord. As you can see, he even has curly whiskers! I’m not sure why one whisker is white, tho…

some of our girls were hosed in a ferret cage
some of our girls were housed in a ferret cage

I’ve always wanted a rat.

I had a friend, Dalene, in high school. She had, literally, the largest pet rat I have ever seen. Thing was the size of my damn forearm and had sharp teeth. I know because it didn’t like me and I got to see them. :open_mouth:

I’ve always found them cute but I know my cat and a rat wouldn’t get along - one of them would kill the other. I’m not sure which, though.


When I was living with one of my old roommates, he ended up keeping a “true” hairless rat named Rosie. Sweet, but she looked kind of like a wrinkly pale scrotum with a curious face.

You know, that’s exactly what I thought when I googled the phrase “true hairless rat.”

Get out of my head!


wow. count me among the newly-educated about rats too. how long do they live on average and does it depend on the breed?

If I have to get out of your head, I want my name back. :stuck_out_tongue: :wink:

I too am a member of the rat set. I inherited mine; some friends bought them for their young daughter, but someone in the family was allergic to them, so I took them off thier hands. They’re great pets! They seem reasonably smart (you know, for rats), and have their own personalities (again, you know, for rats). I just bought them a bigger cage, since they were starting to outgrow the one they came with. They seem much happier now in their 2-level condo. The cage is next to my computer desk, so I’ll open up the cage (which makes a handy ramp up to the desk) and they’ll come and run around while I’m working.

Ingrid and Veronica

I wouldn’t worry about me, I’d worry about the other 23 Tasha’s I graduated with. :eek: I seriously thought I had a weird name until I moved to Nevada. lol.

Back to the OP, though, my cat has taken to peering over my shoulder and hissing when I google rat pictures. :confused: I guess I won’t be getting one any time soon.


We used to have a household that included four cats, three rats, two gerbils, a hamster, a ground squirrel, and dozens of mice. While it’s certainly true that cats can’t be expected to play amicably with rodents, as long as the rodents are properly caged, there’s not likely to be a problem. We used aquariums with wire-mesh lids for our little critters. The cats loved to sit on top of the lids and stare down at the rodent action. None of our tame rodents seemed to care a whit about the fact that toothy predators were spying on them. The ground squirrel, who was not tame, but was a foundling who survived being gassed at a gold course, was unnerved by the cats, so we placed her cage out of reach of the feline voyeurs.

I have rats too. About two dozen in the alley behind my condo. They’ve been known to knock trash cans over, and fight to the death with each other. One of them is the size of a small cat; I call him Mongo.
Filthy rotters. (No offense to your babies.)

It’s a chicken drumstick with a head! :wink:

That’s really strange. Tasha/Natasha seem to be relatively unpopular around here unless you’re in the more ghetto areas. However, there aren’t that many Slavic immigrants in my area.

LOL at the cat hissing. Our dog used to have a “pet hamster” named Beefcake. Long story made short, she was fascinated with it for about a week and would greet it every morning before doing anything else. Like any human toddler, she lost interest after the second week. After that, Beefcake turned back into a high calorie snack for the snakes in the house.

SnakesCatsLady, Magic is the most beautiful rex (either breed) I’ve ever seen, and as I used to show Birmans I’ve seen quite a few. What a gorgeous kitty! I definitely think you need a rex rat companion.

I haven’t ruled out a rat litter down the line, but for now I’m letting everyone grow up while I do more genetics research. What I really want are double rexes (preferably with dumbo ears) with a minimum number of true rexes, so it’s highly tempting to breed Lucas to Eve. I love rexes, personally, but I’m afraid of not being able to place babies when I tell people that they, especially the girls, may lose patches of coat once they’re mature. I love Eve so much I don’t care if she turns out looking like a moth eaten carpet, but I suspect others may not feel that way. I’m also waiting for Lucas to grow out of his cow hocks. I think he will, but you never know…

I think a video of that game would have made you a YouTube star. I don’t suppose there’s any chance of a picture of rat or cat, is there? What this thread needs is more pictures! Speaking of which …

Anamorphic, a variegated and a bareback? My jealousy knows no bounds! And there’s no need to qualify your statements about their intelligence and personalities with “for a rat.” As leery as I am of human-animal intelligence comparisons, I have no trouble believing the received wisdom that rats are roughly equivalent to a 2 to 2-/12 year old human child in intelligence. Anyone who owns them recognizes they have strong individual personalities. And have you read the recent news on rats being the only non-primate proven to be capable of metacognition? Smart, smart critters! I’m ever so grateful they don’t have opposable thumbs…

Scubaqueen, domestic rats live on average between two and three years, but there’s alot of variability; the record lifespan is seven years. Genetics definitely plays a role, although as far as I know, it’s not tied to specific colors or patterns. Show breeders like to claim that they breed for greater longevity than commercially bred animals, but honestly, I have yet to see any evidence that, on average, showbred rats live any longer or are any less disease prone.

For anyone interested in the basics of rats as pets, I recommend the Rat & Mouse Club of America FAQ. There are a few areas I have quibbles with, especially their (understandable) bias about where to obtain a rat, but overall, it’s an excellent starting point.

Happy Lendervedder, no offense taken. Wild rats and domestic rats are almost as different as coyotes and domestic dogs (although they are capable of interbreeding and producing fertile offspring). Even in close proximity to human habitation, the life expectancy of a domestic pet rat could be measured in days. Many of their survival skills have been bred right out of them to make them better pets.


I had a cage full of five boys, who I luuurved. When I got kitties, they got along well (really!), when I moved in with Birdman he and his dog liked them too. Unfortunately, my immune system didn’t like them. I developed a really severe rat allergy, I got huge hives and almost asthmatic breathing problems. I kept the little buggers until they died a natural death, but I couldn’t get any more. :frowning:

I make up for my inability to love rats by talking them up at the pet store. I’ve convinced at least two little families who were planning on hamsters or gerbils to get ratties instead. Woot! :smiley: