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Before you begin searching for your new rats, you will need to be definate that these are the pets for you.
Too many rats end up in rescue, or euthanised, because people rush into getting them without thinking.
Please consider the following before going out and getting your first rats.
Can you afford them?
Rats are commonly cited as ‘cheap’ pets, but nothing could be further from the truth.
To look after rats properly, you will need money.
Too many people run out and get rats on a whim, then complain they cannot afford the vet’s bills, so the animal is left to suffer.
This is never acceptable.
The old saying goes ‘if you can’t afford the vet, you can’t afford the pet’, and harsh as it may sound, it is true.
Rats are still not a particularly healthy species, and badly bred rats such as those from pet shops, are even less healthy.
Though good breeders are working hard to improve the health of the species, they are still prone to respiratory problems, tumours, abscesses, hind leg degeneraion in old age, kidney failure, and a host of other issues, all of which will need medical attention if and when they appear.
Rats may also need surgery in some cases, such as tumor removals and neutering, and these ops are often almost as expensive as the same op in a dog or cat.
A pet is a luxury, not a right, and if you cannot afford to look after it properly, it is simply selfish to go ahead and get it.
If you want rats, make sure you have the money to look after them and provide everything they need.
Do you have time?
While rats are not the time consuming pet a dog might be, they still need daily attention.
Ideally, they need time out of their cage for at least an hour a day.
Rats are highly intelligent, so will get bored staring at the same four cage walls each day.
They are not a pet to put in a cage, throw food in with occasionally, and otherwise do little with.
They like to be involved, and they bond with their owner.
The more you handle them, the more bonded to you they will become.
Rats are crepuscular, meaning they’re mostly active at dawn and dusk, so these are the best times to let them out to free range, as they will be at their most active then.
Although rats can get into a routine of being active when they know their owner will be, so this isn’t always a problem.
Do you have space?
Rats need large cages.
Their caging needs are more akin to that of ferrets or parrots than it is other small animals.
Its heart-breaking to see rats crammed into hamster cages for their entire lives.
They need space to run, climb, jump and play, and to accomodate the many toys they require.
Ensure you have the space for a large cage, and don’t forget that you’ll also need a secure area for them to roam about in during their free range time.
Where will you be in 2 years?
Rats have an average lifespan of just over 2 years.
Where will you be in 2 or 3 years time?
A lot of rats end up in rescue because their owners didn’t plan ahead, and were going to university, or moving to accomodation that wouldn’t take pets.
Make sure that you know you can provide your rats with a safe home for the next 3 years.
Remember that our pets are totally reliant on us.
They are like children in that we make the choice to bring them into our lives, and they are totally dependant on us.
If we’re going to choose to have them, its our responsibility to do it right.
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