top of page
Web Banner 010124b.png
Web Banner 010124b.png

Rats can - and do - make great pets

Imagine being at a star party on a dark night, waiting for your turn to use the telescopes, when you see something small and white moving around by your foot. A domestic rat sitting on peoples shoes and pulling at their pant legs would be the last thing you might expect to see, but that happened just recently during an event at Jackson Flatts. Fortunately for the rat (later named Sally Ride), the people whom she was asking for help from responded in a compassionate way and brought her in to Wild Friends at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Eagle the rat and Brianna the human touching noses. With their friendly disposition, intelligence and playful personalities, it’s no wonder rats are becoming more popular as pets. Photo courtesy of Best Friends Animal Society.

Wild Friends is a state and federally licensed wildlife rehabilitation center, but we also house and adopt out exotic pets. Rats are one of the most common animals that come into our care, all with varying backstories. Sally Ride was most likely abandoned at the dump, which is near Jackson Flatts, but because she was very friendly and social, she moved towards human voices and was able to find help. Now she is living the high life with a young college student who spoils her rotten and lets her take naps on her bed. There are a variety of reasons rats might end up in shelters or rescues including: their owners are no longer able to take care of them, an accidental litter, medical issues due to inbreeding from breeders, or they were offered as food to reptiles.

That was the story for the two newest rats at the sanctuary: Gemma and Maple. Both were offered to snakes, but fortunately for them the snakes were not hungry. This did not make the experience any less traumatic for the rats and both were very depressed and scared upon arrival. They have since come out of their shell and shown themselves to be very sweet. We’re happy to report Gemma and Maple have been adopted.

It might seem strange to some, but the truth is that rats make great pets. They are very intelligent and curious animals and often want to interact with their people. They love to play games and need a lot of enrichment to keep them busy. Each rat has their individual personality, and it may take a little bit to learn what they love. Some love to climb all over their people and hang out with them on their shoulders or in pockets, others love to run on wheels or play in hammocks in their cage. Some may like to be taken out for playtime and will wrestle with their humans’ hands in a mock battle. No matter what their preference for playtime is, it is always adorable and fun.

Another wonderful thing about rats is that they are very clean animals. They spend more time grooming themselves than cats do and they always try to keep their cages clean by eliminating in a small corner of the cage. This makes it very easy to litter box train them!

Their care is fairly easy and set up is simple. Two story Critter Nation cages are the most recommended, offering the rats plenty of space to move around and explore. Rats do best with a buddy and will bond quickly to new friends. Having two or more is always best as they entertain each other and help make each other feel safe and secure. They are mostly nocturnal but can adapt to their owners schedule and be more active when their person is home and ready to play. Fleece blankets work well as cage liners and scraps of blankets can be used to provide bedding. They love to shred things so always provide cardboard boxes, newspaper or paper towels for them to play with. Lots of hides, hammocks and chews will make your rats feel safer and happier. They should be offered a good quality rat food and offered fresh veggies daily. Broccoli, peas or carrots seem to be favorite snack items. Always make sure to research what foods are safe for rats to have before sharing anything with them. They should also have access to fresh water daily in either a bottle or a small bowl.

With their friendly disposition, intelligence, and playful personalities, it’s no wonder rats are becoming more popular as pets. Wild Friends can adopt out their rescues quickly after they come in, but if you are interested in adopting a pet rat or want to learn more about them, stop by Wild Friends for a tour or email us at




bottom of page