Pet rats are not for everyone, that’s a fact, but they have a large following of rodent enthusiasts who couldn’t live without them. Many people associate the word rat with a filthy, mean and repulsive animal, that is unlovable and cannot be tamed. It couldn’t be more wrong!
Rats deserve the recognition for many wonderful traits, which make them fantastic pets for kids and adults. Here’s some most known myths about pet rats that are simply untrue!
1. Rat Is a Rat
One of the widely known myths about rats is that wild rats and pet rats are the same animals. No. While it can be scary to encounter a wild rat in a dark alley at night, dealing with domesticated rats is a completely different story. Pet rats are bred especially for their gentle and friendly nature, as well as their personalities and eagerness to socialize with people. They are handled by human hands since birth and therefore used to being around them.
Wild rats are perceived as vicious and aggressive animals, when they are actually scared of people! Just imagine, if you encountered a creature you are not familiar with, you would want to run away, right? It’s the same rule with rats. Thanks to the frequent socialising and affection, pet rats are fully domesticated and normally extremely friendly to their owners.
2. Rats Are Vermin
This is what people say the most. Rats are vermin. Rats are diseased. Rats are the cause of infections spreading around the globe.Well, not exactly true. Rats been long accused of many deadly infectious outbreaks, including the Plague. Yes, wild rats can be carriers of viruses and harmful bacteria, but they are rarely the cause of them.
Even while the Black Death was raging around Europe, millions of rats were dying alongside people, making them another casualty, instead of the cause. Even though fleas have been proven to be the source of the Plague, rats still take the rap for this case, although their fault is only an urban myth.
When it comes to pet rats and their contact with humans, there’s absolutely no way they can pass anything harmful onto their owners. Funnily enough, rats and humans share about 90% of the same genes, making us and pet rats much more similar than you’d think!
3. Rats Are Dirty And Smelly
If you lived in sewers and had to go through rubbish to find food, you would be a bit dirty, just like wild rats. In a domestic situation, pet rats are actually one of the cleanest animals you can own and they don’t usually smell.
Pet rodents spend hours at the time on systematic and thorough grooming, cleaning their fur and keeping their body in a well kept condition to the point that they can compulsively clean even the tiniest dirt speck the second they notice it. Also, when kept in a tidy cage cleaned regularly by their owner, pet rats don’t smell at all, so that’s another myth! The only bit that can smell is their pee and poop, but human faeces don’t exactly smell of roses, right?
4. Rats Are Aggressive And Mean
Aggression in domesticated rats is actually quite a rare occurrence, because rats see humans as a friendly food source and play mate, rather than a threat. Of course, exceptions to the rule can happen, for example with male rats suffering from heightened testosterone levels, but most rats are rather friendly and crave human attention.
Pet rats form affectionate bonds with their owners and love to socialize whenever possible. They can recognise human faces, the way you smell and will often show gratitude by licking your fingers or groom you like you are a part of the mischief. Many pet rats, especially boys, are happy to lay on their owner’s lap and accept strokes, cuddles and overall affection, making them wonderful and patient pets for kids.
5. Rat Tails Are Slimy And Gross
A lot of people find rat tails repulsive and gross. While you can’t help the way you feel about certain things, many negative preconceptions come from not knowing anything about the subject. It’s the same with rat tails.
Many people think that rat tails look dirty, are slimy and covered in naked, sleazy skin, when it couldn’t be further from the truth. The discolouration on rat tails is their natural pigment coming through and tails are actually covered in tiny, fluff like, hairs and have no discharge at all, so simply cannot be slimy! Yet another myth.
Tails might be the least favourite feature of any rat, but they are extremely important for their wellbeing. Not only it helps with balance, gripping and climbing, but also plays a vital role in regulating rat’s body temperature. Whenever the rat is hot, the blood vessels on its tail will open up to release the heat, making sure the animal is not overheating. Without them, rats have no other way to cool down.
Pets, not pests!
So there you have it… 5 myths about rats that are easily disprovable and frankly misleading for anyone who never had contact with rodents. Fair enough, you might never own a rat because it’s just not your thing, but those funny and curious animals deserve the benefit of the doubt when it comes to getting to know them better.
Instead of blindly believing urban myths, perhaps next time when you are in your local pet store, ask to see some of the ratties for sale. You might just fall in love.If you enjoyed reading this article, please share it with your friends and on your social media! Also leave us a comment below with your thoughts or questions.