Their scurrying in movies and on TV usually signifies horror and disease, but in reality, rats can make great pets. “Because they’re so intelligent and social, rats can relate to and interact with you almost as much as a dog or a cat—but they require a lot less time and space,” says Zachariah Maule, director of North Star Rescue in Northern California. If you’re ready for a rat, keep Maule’s tips in mind:
TAKE TWO Although rats enjoy interacting with humans, they do much better in the company of other rats, so it’s best to adopt them in pairs. (Even buddied-up rats need human attention, though.)
GET ON BOARD Cedar and pine bedding items, though commonly sold, place stress on rats’ sensitive respiratory systems. Maule recommends Carefresh (carefresh.com), which is made from recycled cardboard.
HAVE FUN For your rats’ recreation, check out the parrot accessories section at your local pet store. “Bird toys are great for rats because they’re both intelligent animals that like to destroy things for fun,” Maule says.