5 Reasons Why You Should Adopt a Pet Rat!

The Pro-Rat Movement: adopt and LOVE A PET RAT

In a recent article in The Atlantic, writer Elaine Godfrey wrote about the rats she kept as pets, when she was a little girl. As Godfrey noted, the fancy rat (Rattus norvegicus domestica) is the type you’d choose as a pet. These pet rats come in various colors, from light brown to spotted, blue-gray, and even white with big floppy ears (like the Dumbo rat). They’re tidy, respectful, and surprisingly low-maintenance.

Godfrey contends that rats rank second only to dogs in terms of pet quality. They rarely bite, she writes, they respond when called, and they enjoy snuggling and scratches behind the ears. And they’re smart.

Disgusting? Not at all!

In The End of Mr. Y by British author Scarlett Thomas, we meet Ariel Manto, a PhD student who stumbles upon an extraordinary discovery. The novel weaves together quantum physics, post-modernist theory and the mysterious allure of forbidden knowledge. But we were most entranced by one character in the book: a rat who lives in Ariel’s apartment. The rat’s existence is one of hardship and pain. It has endured hunger, fear, and the harsh realities of survival. Ariel, who has achieved heightened awareness, feels the rat’s anguish as if it were her own. She glimpses the rat’s memories—the gnawing hunger, the desperate search for shelter, the loneliness in dark corners. The many babies the rat has given birth to. In a quiet moment of revelation, Ariel understands; she whispers an apology.

Scarlett Thomas really understands rats!

In the Atlantic article, Godfrey links, without much commentary, to two remarkable websites: animal rescue shelters that specialize in orphaned pet rats, looking for a good home!

Consider Mainely Rat Rescue, which proclaims, “Because every rat is worth rescuing.” Or Any Rat Rescue, “dedicated to finding loving, forever homes for rats in need, serving the Phoenix and Tucson metropolitan areas. We have found homes for approximately 200 rats each year since our inception in 2004. We are a no-kill rescue that accepts any domestic rat, regardless of health, age, or temperament.”

It’s a big job. There are a lot of homeless rats out there. Three million in New York City alone.

While rats have often been unfairly maligned throughout history — and even the decidedly unfancy common rat is unfairly maligned — there is a growing pro-rat movement among pet enthusiasts.

We’d go a step further: don’t adopt a “fancy” rat. Adopt a common street rat (make sure it’s disease free). Who cares about “fancy”? Maybe you’re not so fancy yourself. What matters is intelligence, charisma, loyalty and sociability.

Rats have all of that, and then some.

Just like you.

Why Adopt a Rat?

Here are some reasons why rats make excellent pets:

  1. Diverse Personalities: Each rat has a unique personality. Some are shy and sweet, while others are mischievous and outgoing. Their intelligence levels can vary, making them intriguing companions.
  2. Low Maintenance: Rats are hardy pets and can entertain themselves with stimulating toys when necessary. They adapt well to changing circumstances, allowing pet owners to take on additional responsibilities without neglecting their furry friends.
  3. Strong Bonds: Rats form loving and close bonds with other rats and humans. They thrive when they have ratty friends to avoid loneliness.
  4. Intelligent and Entertaining: Rats are incredibly intelligent and quirky. Their playful behavior provides entertainment for both adults and children.
  5. Contrarian: Having a rat as a pet marks you as a “contrarian,” an interesting person who doesn’t follow the flow. An Oblivioni reader! It will help you make conversation. It will scare away people you don’t want as friends anyway.

Rats in History:

Contrary to popular belief, rats were not the primary culprits in spreading the Black Death during medieval Europe. Recent research suggests that lice and fleas, rather than rodents, played a more significant role in transmitting the plague. Rodents have been unfairly blamed for their role in the pandemic, and mathematical models now challenge this perception.

Modern Rat Enthusiasts:

Today, rat lovers celebrate these little rodents as beloved pets. Their intelligence, social nature and adaptability make them ideal companions for people of all ages. So, if you’re considering a pet, don’t underestimate the charm of a domesticated pet rat — they might just win your heart!

For more information, you can explore articles like this one from PetHelpful and this resource from the Humane Society of the United States.

Like all of us — like you! — rats deserve appreciation, not stereotypes.


Content by Oblivioni. Image by Sibya/Pixabay.

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