20 Reasons Why Rats Are Good Pets

“Rats?” They ask. “Rats? You keep rats as pets? But why would you do that? Aren’t rats a bit, you know, well, boring?” It’s something we hear quite often as rat owners and to be fair, we find it quite amusing, you see once you know rats, you know how silly this question is, but we never waste a chance to share our reasons that there’s more to rats than meets the eye – so check this out. Are rats good pets?

Rats are in fact very good pets and we’ve got 20 reasons why rats are good pets, and they include their amazing personalities, the fact that royalty and celebrities love rats too, that they’re loving and affectionate animals, that they’re clean, and that they’re capable of having a laugh. So, review our awesome list and see why it is that you should think about adding a rat to your family – you won’t regret it if you do.

Our 20 Reasons Why Rats Are Good Pets

They Have Amazing Personalities

Some pets don’t seem to have a huge range of personality. Tortoises, for example, are fascinating creatures but we think as companions go, they are all a little similar. This is not true for rats. They have a huge range of personalities and it’s fair to say that every rat you own will be a unique individual.

They have different senses of mischief, different levels of bravery, some will be smarter than others, and so on. And this means that you’ll quickly come to work out which rat is which and enjoy the company of your rats.

Royalty Love Rats

She may not have been amused by much but there’s one thing that we do know that Queen Victoria liked and that was rats.

In fact, she had a rat catcher and trainer in her employ called Jack Black (no relation to the actor, we can assure you) and his rats were among her favorite creatures in the world.

He taught the rats tricks and her majesty delighted in watching them – that makes rats a pet with a royal seal of approval.

They’re Low Maintenance Animals

Rats don’t need a lot of looking after. They do need some – you’ll need to clean out the cage, for example, on a weekly basis and, of course, you need to feed them, but they don’t need endless attention or to be taken for a walk.

That means they can be left for the day (they’ll be asleep) for you to go to work and as long as they have a companion or two (in the shape of another rat) they’ll be just fine and happy to see you when you get home.

Celebrities Love Rats

Now, if you thought that royalty was a big deal, wait until you hear which celebrities keep rats:

  • Angelina Jolie – was given a rat as a present by Billy Bob Thornton
  • Beatrix Potter – the children’s author doesn’t appear to have been a big fan of rabbits, but she kept rats
  • Clint Eastwood – yes, the famed movie hardman keeps rats and is said to clean their cages himself!
  • Grace Slick – the Jefferson Airplane star once told an interviewer that she loved being licked by her rats
  • John Cleese – he may have mocked Manuel’s rat in Fawlty Towers, but John keeps two rats of his own that he says help reduce his stress levels
  • Marilyn Manson’s mother – he bought a snake and rats to feed it. She took the rats and adopted them instead.
  • Pink – the pop star absolutely loves rats and says she takes her two rats on tour with her
  • Taran Noah Smith – appeared in People magazine with their rat and their dog
  • Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt – Teddy was a big fan of all animals and addition to a pair of kangaroo rats and a piebald he also had a flying squirrel, a macaw and some more standard pets

They Can Show Love And Affection To Each Other

Rats are very social animals. You should never keep a solo rat as it will quickly become super lonely and stressed. This will make it miserable and may even cause the rat to become ill.

The good news is that when you keep more than one rat, they form a sort of family, in which they will group cuddle to sleep, they’ll groom each other, play with each other, occasionally fight with each other and more. It adds a lot of joy to being a rat owner to watch your rats at play.

They Can Show Love And Affection To You

We wrote a longer article about rats and how they show affection to people here. But it’s important to stress this as it’s one of the best things about owning rats – they are real company for their owners. Lizards, for example, don’t much care about their owners one way or another but rats love them.

They will play with you, cuddle you and even attempt to groom you. You’re not a replacement for rodent company but they will very much appreciate your presence in their life as an honored guest.

They Are Super Clean Animals

Yes, we know that rats have a reputation for being dirty but as we explored in an article on the hygiene of rats, this a cruel and persistent myth. Rats are, in fact, very clean and they spend a lot of their time cleaning both themselves and their cage mates.

The only thing they neglect is their tail and you can easily clean a rat’s tail for them with a damp cloth and a gentle motion – never pull a rat’s tail, it’s very sensitive and you can really hurt your rat if you do this.

They Can Laugh/Giggle/Chuckle

Yes, really! We know that it sounds silly, but rats do giggle when they are tickled and this has been scientifically proven. They seem to laugh when they are involved in some forms of play too. This is a quite extraordinary behavior and one that very much endears us to our rats.

They are also seen to be executing “jumps for joy” which are a common happiness signal in mammals, and they help us to know that our rats aren’t unhappy in their lives living with their humans which is a very good thing, indeed.

They Don’t Cost Very Much To Care For

Some pets can be really expensive to look after. In fact, there’s often a small heart attack involved with getting the bill for feeding and stabling a horse for the month. It’s huge! However, your rat won’t cost a fortune to look after.

The biggest investment is their cage but you ought to find that you only need one of these as long as you invest in a good quality, large cage the first time around. After that, bedding and food, etc. don’t tend to come to very much at all. We did a breakdown on the lifetime costs of owning a rat here and as you’ll see, comparatively speaking – owning a rat is really very low cost when compared to the benefits that they bring.

Rats Do Their Own Dentistry

This is a peculiar thing to rodents, but their front teeth continue to grow throughout their lifetimes and a rat’s front teeth will grow up to 5.5 inches a year! However, because rats gnaw on pretty much anything that comes within reach – they wear these teeth down and your rat ought never to have particularly long teeth.

It’s worth noting, however, that a sick rat or an injured rat may not be able to grind down their teeth and you might have to help by trimming them for it or getting a vet to do it. This is a fairly rare circumstance though and we wouldn’t expect it to be a regular occurrence.

You Can Train Your Rats To Do Fun Things

One of the coolest aspects of having rats is that they can do tricks and be taught to come on command, to jump over objects and much more.

Now, this takes quite a bit of patience to achieve – so, please, don’t think that your rats are going to be entertaining the whole household on the day that they arrive but if you follow the steps in our guide to training your rats – then they will quickly become crowd-pleasers for your household.

Training rats also helps you improve your bond with them. Why not read our article all about bond with your pets rats here?

Rats Are The Subject Of Worship

Seriously. In Rajasthan, India there is a temple dedicated to the Hindu God Mata and it is home to over 20,000 rats.

The Hindi, being a practical people, decided that this was a sign of divine influence and thus, instead of calling in Rentokil, they decided to worship alongside the animals and even, occasionally, to worship them.

So, if you have a rat as a pet – it’s clearly divinely blessed.

They’re Really Clever Animals

Now, we know that “clever” operates on a sliding scale with Marilyn Vos Chambers (the most intelligent human on the planet according to an IQ test) at one end and a rock at the other. But rats are, for their size, very bright animals.

They can be taught to sniff out mines, they know how to solve mazes, they can learn to play hide and seek, and they are constantly investigating and playing. These are all signs of a bright animal. No, you can’t teach them to do your chemistry homework but they’re no slouches in the brain department.

Rats Are Very Friendly Creatures

Some rodents are quite aggressive creatures. They bite and they’re difficult to play with or be around when they’re running around freely. Rats are not. They’re very friendly and they only bite in fairly specific circumstances (see our article on rat bites here).

Rats are our friends and that means they can be trusted to behave well around us.

Rats Are Healthy Animals

Rats tend to be very healthy throughout their lives. Now, this doesn’t mean that they are particularly long-lived (sadly, for us rat owners – they only tend to live for 2-3 years) but it does mean that you won’t be forever carrying your pet rat off for an expensive trip to the vet.

This is a big deal because vet bills can add a lot of extra burden on some people’s finances.

Rats Bond For Life

Rats bond with their owners for life. Now, this might sound like an exaggeration but it’s not. They are fantastic for learning to respond to you by sight and by voice.

And once they’ve bonded with you, that bond lasts, let them out and they’ll happily sit on your lap or on your shoulder and watch TV with you. They love your company as much as you love theirs.

Rats Are Super Popular Pets

60% of Americans have a pet. 6% of those pets are rats. That means of the 311 million people living in America. 11.9 million own a pet rat! There are more than 100,000 rat owners in the UK too. That means when you buy a rat, you’re buying into a community of pet owners.

You can find help, support and advice easily because your pet is popular.

It’s Easy To Find And Buy A Pet Rat

This is a fairly important point. If you want to buy a pet spider or a pet snake – you may need to go a long way to find a dealer that can help and you may need to seek out licenses, paperwork, etc. in order to secure your purchase.

With rats, there are dealers everywhere and while we recommend that you use a reputable breeder rather than a “feeder breeder”, you shouldn’t have any problems finding one in your neighborhood (or thereabouts). That makes getting a rat super easy!

There Are Loads Of Varieties Of Rat

Not only are rats super cute but you can find so many different types of rat too: there are hairless rats, rex coated rats, tailless rats, dumbo eared rats, different colors of rat and much more. That means that no matter what you’re looking for in terms of physical appearance from your pets – you can find it in a rat.

Rats Get On Well With Children Too!

Finally, thanks to their friendly natures and low levels of aggression when it comes to humans, rats can also make great pets for households with children in them.

Kids can learn to take responsibility for rats too, participating in feeding them, cleaning their cages, etc. though you will need, of course, to keep a watchful eye on them – in the main, rats are a very child-friendly pet.


Are rats good pets? We admit to a little bias on this front but yes, rats are good pets. They’re so much fun to have around that you’ll never be bored as a rat owner. They show real love and affection and are much less likely to give you a bite than other rodents are because they’re smarter than the average rodent. While they may have a reputation for being dirty and diseased this isn’t true – they’re super clean.

You can keep rats anywhere including in places that a more traditional pet wouldn’t thrive in such as an apartment. They’re low maintenance which means you can go to work and not worry that you rats won’t make it through the day without you and as importantly they don’t cost a fortune to care for and in these troubled financial times, we think that’s very important too. Just make sure to get more than one rat and you and your furry friends will have a great time together.

Darren Black

I'm Darren Black, the owner, and author of AnimalKnowhow.com. I am from Scotland, United Kingdom and passionate about sharing useful information and tips about properly caring for an animal's wellbeing.

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