Owning pet rats can be a unique and rewarding experience for many people. However, it’s important to consider both the pros and cons before deciding to bring them into your home. My kids had pet rats for years, and we learned that there are lots of great reasons rats make good pets, but there are downsides as well.

Here are some of the pros and cons of owning pet rats.

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Pet Rats


  1. Social and interactive. Rats are highly social animals and can form strong bonds with their human owners. They enjoy interacting with people and can be trained to do tricks and respond to their names. Note that it is possible to end up with a rat that is not friendly if you purchase one that has not been socialized; however, this is not the norm.
  2. Low cost. Compared to many other pets, rats are relatively inexpensive to own. Their initial setup costs, such as a cage, bedding, and toys, are affordable. Consider getting a multi level rat cage for your rat to have room to explore. Additionally, their ongoing expenses for food and bedding are typically lower compared to larger pets, or exotic small pets. While rats can be a more inexpensive pet, buy good quality rat food, as it is important for your pet to maintain good health.
  3. Low maintenance. Rats are generally clean animals and spend a significant amount of time grooming themselves. They don’t require regular bathing, and their cage can be cleaned on a weekly basis. Their small size also means they require less space compared to larger pets.
  4. Intelligent and trainable. Rats are intelligent creatures and can learn various tricks and commands. They can be clicker trained and are capable of problem-solving, which can make interacting with them fun and engaging.
  5. Affectionate companions. Rats are known to be affectionate and enjoy spending time with their owners. They can provide emotional support and companionship, particularly for individuals who may be living alone or have limited social interactions. There are many times our rats curled up on our shoulders to fall asleep!
Pet Rat


  1. Short lifespan and health issues. One of the main drawbacks of owning pet rats is their relatively short lifespan. On average, rats live for about 2 to 3 years, although some may live slightly longer. This means that owners must be prepared for the emotional impact of their pet’s relatively short lifespan. Rats, like all animals, can experience health issues. They may be prone to respiratory problems, tumors, and other illnesses. Veterinary care for rats can be specialized and may require finding a veterinarian with experience in treating small animals. We found that their short life span, coupled with a higher potential for health issues, was hard on our children, as we lost quite a few rats at a young age.
  2. Odor. Despite their cleanliness, rats do have a distinctive odor. Regular cleaning of their cage, providing good ventilation, and using appropriate bedding can help minimize any unpleasant smells. We had to find a spot for the cage did not affect other areas in the home. You can also use pet odor eliminator to reduce odors.
  3. Time and attention: Rats require regular social interaction and mental stimulation. They are social animals that need daily playtime and exercise outside their cage. Providing enough time and attention can be challenging for individuals with busy schedules.
  4. Allergies. Some people may have allergies to rats, including their dander and urine. If you or anyone in your household has allergies, it’s important to consider this before deciding to get pet rats.

It’s crucial to thoroughly research and consider these factors to determine if owning pet rats is the right choice for you. Additionally, ensure you have the necessary knowledge and resources to provide proper care, nutrition, and a suitable environment for these small animals.