Are Pet Rats Affectionate?

If you are thinking about adopting a pet rat, it may have crossed your mind, are pet rats affectionate? A rat’s brain and body function closer to a human’s mind and body; that is why they make such good test subjects, unfortunately. 

As a general rule, pet rats are some of the most affectionate domesticated pets. Pet rats are social creatures and thrive in an environment that is filled with affection. They show their love in various ways, such as grooming and playing. Although a rat bath may be cute, it may not be the most sanitary thing our furry friend does to show their affection. 

Pet rats make great companions around the home, in small groups. Rats are highly social animals and need socialization to thrive. The environment that is perfect for the pet rat is calm yet loving and exciting. While you may be your pet rat’s favorite treat giver, there is more to rat affection than resource control. 

Can I Kiss My Pet Rat? 

There are other ways to show my pet rat affection rather than kissing him. Although kissing my pet rat may be perfectly safe now, it is not the most sanitary event. Although pet rats are usually well-groomed by their owners, that doesn’t lessen the infection risk associated with kissing your pet rat. 

There is always a risk of an attack or sickness being passed between you and your pet rat.  

  • The pet rat may bite you
  • Your pet rat may pass germs onto you
  • Your pet rat can make you sick
  • Your pet rat can carry harmful diseases 

Pet rats can also contaminate surfaces in your home or anywhere the pet rat stays for even a short time. For example, it is terrible to allow the pet rodent to wander freely on the kitchen counter or even the table. The Center for Diseases Control (CDC) recommends never cleaning your pet rat’s dishes or toys in your kitchen sink. 

You also need to wash your hands after handling your pet rat to destroy any bacteria or harmful virus that may have been transferred through touch. In addition, your veterinarian can test your pet rat for any dangerous transferable diseases that may pose a risk to your family. 

How Do Pet Rats Show Affection?

A rat’s favorite thing to do is to play with its human counterparts. Each rat is going to have personality traits that make them unique. Some rats need much attention, while other rats are okay being let out to play once a week.  

Pet rats similarly show their affection to humans. Although the average pet rat will cuddle and play, they also like to groom their human counterparts. In addition, pet rats love to play games with their humans. Although some pet rats will try to climb in your mouth to clean your mouth, I do not recommend letting them. 

Your pet rat will try to play a game of cat and mouse with you. One of the pet rat’s favorite games is hide and seek. They love to roll under your furniture and hide. Your pet rat will cuddle with you, but not in the same manner that a larger mammal would. Instead, your pet rat will mostly sit in one place on your shoulder or lap and sniff around. 

Pet rats also show affection to other pet rats. Therefore, pet rats are best owned in colonies with two or three other pet rats. Since pet rats are social creatures, they need other social activities and creatures to engage in social activities. Pet rats will also groom each other as a sign of affection between their species. 

Do Pet Rats Get Attached to Their Owners

Rats do get highly attached to their owners during their short life span. During the one to three years a rat lives, it will grow attached to the person who spends most of the time with the pet rat. You are their entire world during their life. Pet rats love to sit and cuddle can even recognize their owners. 

You must build trust with your rat first slowly in a gentle order; trust is earned with our pet rats; they want to know they are safe. 

  • Spend time with them building trust; playing games, and giving them treats
  • Slowly introduce the hands to your pet rat as to hand tame them first
  • Give them treats and take care of the resources
  • Make sure they have at least one hour a day outside of the cage

After hand taming, you can do anything to your pet rat, and they will continue to bond with your love to cuddle and hang out. In addition, rats are intellectual mammals and are much easier to train than dogs. 

Rats grow very attached to their owners and appear to have high emotional intelligence for the size brain. Unfortunately, rats only live about three to four years, and they spend all of it with you and other cage mates. So naturally, they will become very attached to their primary care giver, as if you are the rat pack leader. 

Professors at the University of Chicago Proved that Rats Are Empathetic 

Dr. Peggy Mason is a professor and doctor of neurobiology at the University of Chicago. “Rats help others because they care,” Peggy has been quoted saying by the university’s news publications. The proof is in the test results between the control group and the medicated group. 

The rats were separated into two groups, a control group (placebo) and the test group (meaning they were given the medication). Dr. Masons Twenty Eleven study showed that the rats taking the anti-anxiety medication midazolam did not free their companions from a device but did free the chocolate chips from that same device. 

In comparison, the control group freed their buddies every single time. Dr. Mason claims that the drug lessens the neurological response to empathy within the rat, making them not care to open the cage for their mate. 

The fact that the rats open the restraining tube for each other with no reward proves that rats have the emotional intellect to be affectionate. 


Adopting a pet rat is a great way to start teaching little ones over five years old to care for an animal. In addition, it is a bonus that pet rats are more than capable of showing affection under the right circumstances. 

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