Are Rats Good Pets?

When considering getting a pet, I know the first thing on most people’s minds are dogs and cats. It makes sense since most people own one or both. Yet, there are so many other animals that are capable of being good pets. 

Rats are good pets that are easy to take care of. Rats are a low-budget option for a pet because they require minimal water and food. Moreover, rats are clean, intelligent animals that are amusing to watch, play with, and train. 

If you were wondering whether rats are good pets, I can say that they are. There are many aspects of owning a pet rat that many do not know. Read to discover why rats make such good pets. 

Why Rats Make Good Pets

I know that a lot of people want a companion, so they look for a pet to fulfill that need in their lives. However, when people think of rats, they think of brown rats. Brown rats are those big rats you think of as running around New York City. However, these are not the rats you would be having as a pet. Rather, Norway rats, the predominant pet rat, are great pets. 

There are several reasons why rats make good pets: 

  • Rats are very smart creatures and can be trained. 
  • Rats that are kept as pets are very clean, unlike their wild counterparts. 
  • Rats are an inexpensive pet to keep. 
  • Rats are relatively simple to take care of. 

So, whenever I am thinking about animals that make great pets, I think about rats. They may not live very long—most only live two to three years at most—but they are friendly and will bond with you. 

To understand why rats are good pets, I will explain each of the reasons more in-depth. Once you see the details, it will be easier to know why you should consider a rat as your next pet. 

Rats Are Intelligent Creatures

Rats are very intelligent, which may come as a surprise to some. However, when you consider that they are routinely used to study the human mind, it makes sense. Rats can be trained, and once they are trained, they can do a multitude of things. Consider some of the things a trained rat can accomplish. 

  • Puzzles
  • Mazes
  • Perform tricks
  • Respond to their name

Why is this important? When I want a pet, I want to make sure it can be trained. I want to know that it will behave and be friendly with me. Part of the joy of owning a pet is spending time with it. Since rats are smart, I know that I can train them and rely on them to behave. 

Some tricks I know that a rat can be trained to do include standing on their hind legs, jumping, and responding to their name. One thing is for sure: you will not get bored with a pet rat. 

Rats Are Clean Animals

I know that it is easy to assume that rats are dirty animals. We have all seen it portrayed that way on television and the internet. However, I think it is important to differentiate between the rats you see on the T.V. and the rats that you will find in the pet store. 

The rats that we see on T.V. and online are common brown rats. These rats are not the ones you will get as a pet, however. The rats that are sold as pets are usually white and are called Norway rats. 

Why do I think this difference is important? Unlike the brown rat you see out on city streets, the Norway rat is a very clean animal. Norway rats typically groom themselves, and they enjoy being brushed by their owners. 

The only smell you may encounter that could be considered “unpleasant” would be if you have multiple rats because they will mark their territory in the cage. Otherwise, pet rats are incredibly clean. They even enjoy organizing their food, so you do not have to worry much about their cleanliness.  

Rats Are Inexpensive Pets

I mentioned before that pet rats do not live very long. They only live three years at most. While this can pose some emotional obstacles for owners, it is also part of the reason they are inexpensive pets. 

Pet rats do not get ill very much, though that does not mean they cannot get sick. You will not need to bring them to the veterinarian very much. You really only need to bring them when you first get them so that they can be checked out properly to avoid any illnesses in the future. 

Otherwise, the biggest expense will be its living quarters. Rat food is inexpensive, and they do not require much upkeep, so if you want a budget pet, I recommend a pet rat.  

Why Caring for a Pet Rat Is Simple

It is relatively easy to take care of a pet rat, which is one of the reasons why they are considered a good pet to have. I know that it may seem a little daunting in the beginning if you are not used to having a rodent (or other small animals) as a pet, but it is straightforward. 

Caring for a pet rat is simple because they do not require much. Once a cage has been acquired, the owner needs to supply fresh water each day along with high-quality rat food. Small fruits can be given, too. Rats need exercise, so providing rat wheels is important. 

Once you have bought a cage for your pet rat, there are only a handful of simple tasks you need to worry about. 

  • Water
  • Food
  • Exercise
  • Preventative Vet Care

They do need exercise, which can be handled with toys within the cage. However, I recommend taking them out of the cage for some exercise, too. Rats are curious, so taking them out of their cage is a great thing to do. 

The Basic Needs of a Pet Rat

As I mentioned, the basic needs of a pet rat are not difficult to maintain. This does not mean, necessarily, that a pet rat is low maintenance, though when compared with pets such as dogs and cars, I would say they could be considered so. 

When taking care of your pet rat, you just need to make sure you are satisfying some basic care guidelines. 

  • Supply fresh water every day. You can do this through a water tank with a drinking spout. Make sure you fill whatever container you are using for water each day. 
  • Supply your pet rat with high-quality rat food. Make sure soy meal is included in the ingredients in the food. 
  • Supply your rat with fresh fruits. These can include peas, apples, and bananas. 
  • Consider getting a second rat. Rats are social pets, and they bond well with other rats, which can keep them active and happy. 
  • Clean their cage each week. This only needs to be done once a week as rats are very clean animals. 
  • Monitor your rats for signs of illness. While rats do not get sick often, they are still prone to certain illnesses. If your pet rat is acting abnormally, make sure to get it checked. 

I would not say that caring for a pet rat is difficult. They will love to be around you and their needs are few. As long as they get these basic needs met, along with good exercise, they will be happy to be your pet. 


I know most people do not immediately consider rats as pets because of preconceived notions regarding rats or because they are used to dogs and cats. However, rats make good pets because they are clean, smart, and require minimal care. 

They are curious animals and will love to be around you. Many compare them with dogs with their affection for their owners. They will let you handle them and will behave. 

If you are looking for a low-maintenance, budget-friendly pet that is not a dog or a cat, I do not think you should ignore rats. They make great pets. 

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