Are Pet Rats Smart?

If you’ve had pets, you know they can pick up on a lot of cues. Some animals can seem so smart that it feels like they can predict our every move. But how do rats compare to some other pets, like dogs?

Pet rats are very smart, and they are smarter than animals like gerbils, guinea pigs, and even rabbits. Owners can teach rats to run through mazes and fetch balls. A rat can recognize its own name, and it can tell when another rat isn’t feeling well. Consider how this can help rats and owners.

Whether you’re looking to get a pet rat or already have one, it’s important to learn about them. That way, you can know what to expect, and you can build a strong bond with the rat. Read on to learn more about rat intelligence.

They Love Learning

Pet rats love to learn new tricks and skills, especially when you use treats to train them. You can use treats like you would a dog, for example, so you can reinforce the skill. Consider using treats to teach them:

  • Their name
  • To fetch a ball
  • To jump through hoops
  • To run through mazes

As your rat learns these skills, you can use them to keep your rat active and to get them to come to you. If you have friends over, you and your rat can show off those skills to more people. Training your pet rat can also be a great way to bond with it.

Like any other pet, make sure you train your rat regularly. Then, they won’t lose what they’ve learned, and they can complete even more tricks.

They Like to Stay Busy

When a pet rat is learning something or not, they like to move around and do various things throughout the day. You should make sure their cage has plenty of room for them to run but also space to relax.

Give them space and tools to climb, such as a rope. You can also get a wheel for them to run on in their cage. That way, they can stay busy even when you aren’t around. When you do get home, you can work on their training and let them out of the cage if it’s safe.

By giving your rat plenty of things to do, they can learn new skills and tricks on their own. And you can have multiple training options without having to take the rat out of the cage.

They Make Informed Decisions

Another thing that makes pet rats so smart is their ability to make decisions using metacognition. This is where someone can make decisions with what they do know and don’t, and it’s how you and I make decisions.

Rat brains have a very similar structure to human brains in that they have a lot of neurons that communicate with each other. That helps the rat make decisions and improves their intelligence overall.

A rat’s brain makes it one of the smartest animals, pet or not. While other animals make decisions, they don’t have as similar of a brain structure to humans. The rat brain helps them learn skills and tricks, and it helps with other facets of the rat’s life.

And that structure makes rats a great choice for medical studies. Because of the similarities, scientists can learn a lot from a rat and make assumptions about how something might affect people.

They Notice Other Rats

Another reason pet rats are smart is that they can recognize rats both in the room with them and on a television screen. So if you ever watch a movie like Ratatouille and your rat’s in the room, they might take notice.

This probably has to do with the metacognition, which also provides the rat with awareness. They know what they and others of their species look like. Even if you don’t watch rat movies all of the time, your pet can recognize the animal when it does appear on the screen.

Rats are also social animals, and they like to live in packs. Consider getting a second rat to live with your current pet, and the two can play together.

Once both rats get to know each other, they can form a little rat pack. You can get two rats of the same sex, or you can get one female and one male as long as both are spayed and neutered.

They Feel Empathy

If you get a second pet rat, both of them will be able to notice and feel empathy when the other is feeling sick or otherwise not doing well. They can recognize changes in the other animal, and they can react accordingly.

Some research has shown that rats will want to free other animals in cages rather than take food. So not only do they feel empathy for other rats, they can feel that way about any other pets you have.

That’s a pretty unique quality that you don’t see much outside of humans. To see a rat act that way is both sweet and smart.

They Recognize You

Pet rats quickly learn to recognize their owner and when their owner’s around. Your pet rat can learn what you look like and what you sound like. Then, they can tell when you’re entering the room or leaving it.

Like dogs, rats are very loyal and like to spend time with their owners. After your rat learns who you are and builds a bond with you, they’ll want to be with you more. Consider how you can bond:

  • Training the rat
  • Feeding them
  • Letting them crawl on you

So try to take time out of your day to be with your rat. That way, they can learn you’re their owner, and you can build that trust. Soon enough, you can take the rat out of its cage to bond even more.

Final Thoughts

Some people may think pet rats are gross or otherwise not suitable as pets. However, rats can be very smart, from learning their name to recognizing other rats. They’re also very compassionate, and they like to spend time with their owners. Keep those things in mind when trying to decide which pet you should get next.

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