Hi! I'm kind of the "odd man out" on this board, because I have an unusual schedule that allows me the time I need to have only one rat. I am copying two posts from another thread that I made on the subject, just to share my point of view. It boils down to, if you don't get a best friend for your rat, then you have to have the time and dedication to be his best friend, all the time, or he will get very lonely.
[Excerpted from another thread.]
In some cases, I believe that it is OK to have just one rat...but then, you have to take your commitment to your rat ~very~ seriously.
Here are some plusses and minuses of having a lone, male rat, from the owner of a lone, male rat. (Before him, I also had a lone, male rat.)
I am in a rather unique position regarding the way I spend my time. Often, I am up at night, as well as certain hours during the day. Sometimes, I catnap a couple of hours on, a couple of hours off. Because of my sleep habits and my "time" situation, I thought one rat would work very well for me.
As a freelance musician and artist, when I work, I do most of it at home. I share my projects with Gus, my rat. My music station is right next to his home, so he can come out and get involved with that, when he wants to. He has his own set of paints, and we have "painted together" as well...me on my canvas, and Gus on his, of course! We also like to take short trips in the car, to smell what other places smell like.
What I was looking for in my pet rat was someone who would be a best friend and nearly constant companion. I've talked this over with several people, including vets and specialists, who are familiar with my situation, and so far, I've been getting a "thumbs up" on one rat working with my lifesstyle.
Of COURSE, if you want to have any kind of life of your own, you should definitely consider two. The fact that it's just Gus and me means that certain things in my life are limited: I can't go out for all day-and-night trips, and I certainly can't take vacations, because I'm crucial to Gus' life and happiness, and it would be irresponsible of me to leave him without me. (Whenever anyone suggests a vacation within driving distance, I tell them that I will go if Gus can go, but they are all afraid of getting caught, and getting kicked out of the hotel. )
Gregor, my first rat, did everything with me too. That was one of the reasons it was so hard to lose him - we were "partners."
Anyway, for anyone hoping to have a fairly regular lifestyle that doesn't revolve around the happiness of the rat, it's probably a wiser choice to have two.
Just wanted to point out that one ~can~ be happy, if you're his "best friend rat" 24 hours a day!
2 elderly female dogs
1 young male dog
1 middle-aged male cat
An aquarium of Bettas and otos and frogs
Augustus, the teenage hoodie rat
RIP Gregor Samsa
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Sorry - me again. I thought I'd better emphasize/clarify something, for the original poster of the question, and also for anyone else who is wondering about this.
If you should choose to get only one rat, your life no longer belongs to you. Your life belongs to your rat, who is dependent upon you to have a happy and stable and full emotional life.
Here's a "real life" example. (A VERY "real life" example, in my case.)
I have been having a whole lot of dental trouble in the past months. If I told you that I have had 10 root canals and 1 extraction/implant so far, and that there is more to go, would you believe me? It's true.
You must think that either I live on the street, or come from a family where nobody ever brushes their teeth, but neither one is true. I come from a family that stressed good oral hygeine, and regular dentist visits. As far as I can tell, there are two reasons for all of this unbearable pain in my mouth: 1. I inheirited bad teeth on both my mother's and my father's side, and 2. My former dentist didn't really know what he was doing. We've found a lot of bad dental work that he did, and an example of his advice is, "If you get a toothache, wait and see if it goes away after a couple of days." (With my mouth being so vulnerable, obviously, if I experience any pain, I should see a dentist ~immediately!~)
I don't want to even get started on the price of all this; I could put a down payment on a home.
But to the point of how this relates to rats:
Since March, I've been in tremendous pain from teeth that need work, and also teeth that are recovering from work. Yesterday, I had two root canals.
After two root canals, you pretty much want to just sleep the rest of the day and night.
HOWEVER, since I have Gus and he has me and we love one another, that is not what I did. I took Gus out for his playtime in the evening, as usual. I owe it to him. I'm his whole life.
To wrap it up:
I would advise NOT to get a single rat, unless you really, really, really want a major commitment.
Having said that, there's nothing quite like being your rat's "one and only." I wouldn't trade my relationship with Gus for the world!