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Pet Rats - How Many Pet Rats Should I Get?

Rats Need Company

Rats are highly intelligent, social animals, and although they enjoy the companionship of humans, they thrive in - and need - the company of their own species.

Although they will usually survive if kept as single pets, pet care is not just a matter of keeping animals alive; rats will have happier and more interesting lives when kept with other rats. Rats should never live alone, and ideally should be kept in groups of two or more of the same sex. It is unfair to deprive any social animal of the company of its own species.

Rats enjoy grooming each other, curling up to sleep together, and sometimes even fighting. It is usual for rats to scrap occasionally, especially when they are 'teenagers' between 3 and 6 months old; do not worry about this unless you see serious injuries, as the rats are just establishing a "pecking order".

You Are Not Enough

No matter how much time you can spend with your rat, you will never be able to replace the attentions of his own species. A rat's most active time is in the middle if the night, when most rat owners are unlikely to be able to provide their pet with companionship.

Cute pet rat standing on its hind legs

One fear expressed by potential rat-owners is that if they get more than one rat, the animals will bond together and be less tame as a result. The opposite is usually the case, as solitary rats can easily become clingy, introverted and neurotic.

Keeping More Than One Rat

Rats kept in pairs or groups are happier, more confident, and no more difficult to tame. If you want proof of this, go to a rat show or visit someone who keeps a group of rats as pets. You will be able to meet plenty of extrovert, confident rats and their ratty friends.

There are many good reasons to let pet rats live in single-sex pairs or groups: two rats are as easy to look after as one, a cage that is big enough for one rat is big enough for a pair, two rats are much happier and live longer than single rats --and they're many times more interesting to watch!

Unwanted Babies?

Three baby pet rats

Do not worry about a pair of rats producing unwanted babies - rats should be kept in single-sex groups to avoid this, and it is very easy to tell the difference between males and females with a little experience.

It is possible to sex baby rats from birth with practise, and it is hard to confuse does and bucks from four weeks onwards, as by this age the male's testicles have dropped and are clearly apparent. While baby rats are weaned before five weeks of age, they should not leave their same-sex littermates until they are at least six weeks old. Any pet shop or breeder who claims that their baby rats cannot be definitely sexed yet is either selling them far too young, and does not have the animals' best interests at heart, or they know very little about rats. Either way, they should be avoided at all costs. last updated 1 Oct, 2017


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