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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
So recently I've been thinking about getting a pair of rats, theyre so cute and smart they seem like awesome pets. I've been researching all about them but there's a few things I couldn't find an anwer to.Firstly, my dad is very against small animals in the house so he said the only way I can keep them is of they live in the barn we keep our rabbits in. It has air conditioning in the summer and a heater in the winter and isn't too far from the house. There's also plently of room so they wouldn't have to be right next to the rabbits. Would this be ok? He said they could come in to play and visit in such just there cage has to be in the barn Secondly, I can't decide whether I should get males or females. Id like to be able to teach them tricks and possibly bring them places with me so I don't know which would be ideal. I've heard males can be lazy and females can by hyper so I don't know what would be best. I used to own a hedgehog so I am somewhat familiar with small pets. (She lived inside but my dad thought she stunk so that's why the no little pets in the house rule is in place now)Any help is greatly appreciated! Thank you!
 

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As long as the temperature is kept in a healthy range, and they get lots of with you time, being in the barn shouldn't be a problem, it isn't really ideal, but certainly doable. I have no idea of the odor of hedgehogs, but found 2 rats to produce lots less odor than either 1 hamster or 1 gerbil. Though I know some people who can "smell" them even when most people I know can't.

Females are more active and may be more likely to learn tricks, I haven't really tried to teach tricks, so I'm not sure. Their high energy and love of exploring may make them better candidates for going with you, too, but before venturing out with any rat make sure you read Rat Daddy's thread on Shoulder Rats, it is not really for the faint of heart or most rats.
 

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I think it depends more on the rats personality than gender. I have a male who is so food motivated he will do all sorts of tricks. Most of my girls are too busy exploring to be interested in treats outside the cage. However, all rats are trainable of you find the right reward.
 

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I'll be honest, I'm very much against kids getting pets that the parents don't want. It sucks to have to wait until u r on your own but often far better for the pets. Will ur dad be willing to take them to the vet? Let u buy the food u want? Etc...

Being in the barn is not ideal. If the temp is controlled that helps but often out of sight out of mind. Rats are very social animals and need playtime out of their cage daily. Can u give them that?

As for gender, each rat has their own unique personality but generally boys tend to be calmer, lazier, more cuddly but they also tend to mark have buck grease and sometimes u have to deal with hormonal aggression. Girls are more active and hyper, go go go not as cuddly but still loving. They may be bigger chewers and often develop tumors.
 

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Basically, I'd just want to add that rats really aren't small animals as most people think of them. Although they are compact, their intelligence rivals dogs and they are social pack animals. In the wild rats can free range for miles, live in complex modern cities and learn all kinds of new behaviors to adapt to all kinds of environments. They are metacognative and really don't take orders like dogs, but will learn to understand you and more or less follow suggestions or your lead.
As learning animals, similar in cognitive structure to humans, they can be damaged by mishandling or neglect and they can become aggressive or depressed and can really bite deep and hard if screwed up. For a first time rat owner it's important that you find a couple of young friendly rats to start with then invest a lot of time raising them properly. You can get partially pre-socialized rats from a good breeder, or you can find younger pups you can socialize yourself. Older rats that have emotional issues aren't good candidates for new rat owners. If you can't find a good breeder or pups, make sure to "test drive" your rats to make sure they are friendly and inquisitive. Whether you go with boys or girls, what's most important is that you start with rats that haven't been mishandled, neglected or abused... then the socialization process is much like training a new puppy and the fun pretty much starts on the ride home. Once you've raised a few rats, you can decide if you want to take on bigger challenges... but for now start with the right rats.

If you want to train your rats to be shoulder rats, that's travel outdoors with you, do look up my thread on the subject. I've trained 3 and am training the 4th now... there are likely only a few hundred true shoulder rats in the world at any given time... and yes, the pup I'm training now comes to bed with me, and when I fall asleep crawls off my bed into her cage where she sleeps, the rest of the day she hangs out on my desk... the kind of bond and trust you need is very time consuming to achieve. Rats are agoraphobic in a big way, they need absolute confidence in you in order to follow you out into wide open spaces. Most rats are prone to panic when outdoors and if your rat panics, it will run off and get killed. Even with all of our experience, and after working with our current pup for three weeks, I still can't tell if she's going to make the grade. If not she will be a very fine indoor rat.

Eye color is important for shoulder rats... natural brown/black eyes means your rat can see better than twice as well as a pink or ruby eyed rat. As you can imagine, a rat that's almost blind is almost never going to become confident outdoors. Pink eyed rats also can't be taken into bright lights as the light can damage their eyes.

If you are looking for a simple friendly small animal, mice or even turtles are likely a better bet. If you are looking for a big animal like a dog, that doesn't take up a lot of space, then rats will fit the bill nicely.

Finally... if you raise your rats right, like dogs, they will emotionally bond with you and you with them, this is a very rewarding experience, but it's a commitment very similar to owning a dog. Even your vet bills can cost as much as dogs, in some places even more. I originally wasn't into a major commitment like a dog when my daughter wanted a pet... a few months later I'm planning our travel plans around rat friendly restaurants and lodgings. For us, rats are worth every bit of the work they take and pay back big emotional dividends. Start with the right rats, raise them well and you will have an amazing experience... It's up to you if you are into the commitment.

Best luck
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
My dad doesn't mind any of my pets as long as he doesn't have to smell them. When I had my hedgehog he helped with vet bills. He isn't heartless he just hates smell (won't even let me wear strong perfume.)The barn is only like 10 yards from the house and we have to take care of the rabbits in there anyway. And like I said my dad said they can come in for a couple hours a day. (I'm starting to rat proof my room already) I am used to high maintenance pets. I have bottle fed kittens, goats, and rabbits. I understand commitment with animals.And with shoulder rats; I do understand it would not be a quick easy process and that there would be risks involved. I would never attempt doing it with any animal I was not completely comfortable with and I knew was completely comfortable with me and even then I'm not sure if I'd trust myself enough to attempt it.I'm starting to lean towards a female though I'm going to visit some rats today and meet some males and females and see what I like better
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Thank you for all the advice though! (Sorry if there's no spacing between my paragraphs for whatever reason shift doesn't seem to be working..)
 

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I prefer males for bringing out and about. They're calmer and less likely to try to run off. They're also less crazy if a stranger wants to pet them.

If you have them in the barn I'd make sure to have bonding time for about three hours a day.
 

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As I think someone mentioned above I don't think the gender necessarily determines whether the rat is more active or not. I think really if I were you I would see both males and females and pick based on the particular rat not just the gender. Although generally females are more active my oldest living rat is female and the laziest pet I've ever seen. But that being said all my other girls have always been crazy active but even the most active ones have their moments when all they wanna do is cuddle.
 
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