I love pets. I grew up with dogs, and I feel that pets are just something every kid should be able to have. They teach responsibility. They’re fun. They are lovable and loving. But here’s the problem in our family. I love dogs; my husband loves cats. I can’t stand cats; my husband is not a big fan of dogs.
So, we did a ton of research on what other options there were. What other kinds of pets are good for kids? Over and over again, we read that besides dogs and cats, fancy rats (yes, rats) are excellent first pets for kids. So, we did some more research about what it would look like to own rats. We found that they are inexpensive, friendly, playful, very smart, trainable, social and pretty easy to care for.
We also found that it was NOT a good idea to buy a pet rat from a pet store. They are often bred from lab rats. They are often mass produced with little care to their health or blood lines. They live shorter life spans. They aren’t fed well, socialized well, or cared for well. They are sold when they are older, which inhibits their ability to bond with their owners. Now, I’m not saying that every single rat bought in a pet store won’t make a good pet, but it is more likely that they will have some problems.
It was highly recommended that we buy our pet rats from a rattery. It’s okay, I giggled too. I didn’t even know there was such a thing. But we found one. Ratteries sell their rats young. They breed their rats for health and good blood lines. They care for and love on them so that they are used to being handled and being around people. They start them out with the right kind of food. (Did you know that most pet stores don’t even sell food made for rats? They feed rats ferret food or some other “small animal” food, which often times does not provide good nutrition for rats.)
So, we’ve had our rats, Churro and Baklava, cute little siamese black-eyed males, for about a week, and the kids and us adults too absolutely love them. They like to sit on our shoulder and cuddle up to our neck. They play with us and with each other. They cuddle up in their hammock together and sleep. They’re quiet and easy to care for.
I just wanted to share our experience with pet rats for those of you looking around for a first pet or even just a family pet. Recently there was a boy who died from “rat bite fever,” and I know that pet rats are getting a little bit of a bad rap. I’m very sorry that the little boy died, but we did some research when we learned about the situation, and we still feel that rats are a good choice for a few reasons:
1) We did not buy our rats from a pet store. Our rats were bred for health from good blood lines. (The rat sold to this poor family was from a pet store, and was sick when they bought it.)
2) There are about 200 cases of “rat bite fever” a year in the U.S. and most of them are from undomesticated rats, not pets. And those that are from pets are not usually deadly. It can be taken care of with anti-biotics.
3) A vet can check out and test your pet rat for any diseases so that you can protect your family, and many ratteries do so before they sell their rats.
We are lovin’ Churro and Baklava; they are awesome pets for our kiddos!