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Facts & Myths about Pet Rats

Learn facts and myths about pet rats from veterinarian Anthony Pilny in this Howcast rat video.


Rats are amazing pets, and I think there are a lot of misconceptions
surrounding pet ownership. Rats are not street rats, and that's oftentimes
what people confuse them with. They think of them as subway rats, or
they're some confusion that they're wild animals. The rats that people keep
as pets are affectionate, loving animals. They were domestically bred and
domestically raised and intended to be pets living in our homes.

Another misconception that people often have with them is that they bite. It's
extremely rare that rats bite. If they are socialized well, are handled
often. If they are acquired without any previous history that would lead
them to becoming biters, it's extremely rare that a pet rat is ever going
to bite you.

Another misconception that people often have with rats is that they carry a
lot of diseases, I think people have historically been concerned about bubonic
plague and silly things like that. And those things are not issues at all
with keeping pet rats today. The likelihood of them carrying a lot of
diseases or being infested with anything that's ever a risk to humans is
extremely low. But there are some possibilities, but the risks, like I said,
are extremely low.

Another misconception that I think people have about rats is that they
don't tend to like people, that they're not friendly enough to be kept as
pets. People are used to other rodents type species, like hamsters and
gerbils and they're used to the level of interaction they have. You can
absolutely get that with pet rats. They long to be held. They love to sit
on people's shoulders. They like to be part of the family unit.

Though rats may not appeal to everybody, what I've often heard people say
is that the tail sometimes bothers them. The fact that rats do not have fur
on their tails, for some reason as a personal opinion, bothers some people.
The other thing that bothers certain people are some of the colors because
pet rats come in a variety of different color mutations. There are people
who just feel, for lack of a better term, weirded out by red or pink eyes
or a white animal with red eyes. But there is really no reason for that to
be. There is no negative impaction from that. It's more of just somebody's
personal feeling or personal opinion about the rat in general.

These rats, as you see here, pet rats or fancy rats, are domestically bred
to be pets. They love human interaction. They're friendly. They're social.
They want to be around their owners, and they enjoy being groomed. They
enjoy being petted. They will actually give kisses. It is extremely rare
that they will bite, and they're overall great and amazing pets.

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