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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello everyone!
My story is.. somewhat complicated, is what most people would say.
I am originally from Croatia but a year ago I have moved into Czech because of my girlfriend. (We were tired of online relationship and I decided to make a big step :) )
I left everything in Croatia, including my very own Guinea Pig. I was working hard to get him into Czech, but it was almost near to impossible. And now that I finally had the chance to bring him... My sister told me that my family gave him away. Worst thing is, they gave him away on my birthday.
Well, since my girlfriend knows how much I love my rodent, she told me she wants to gift me a new one, as an extra birthday gift. We live on a farm and she has a lot of guinea pigs so obtaining one of those wouldn't be an issue, BUT...

I have never seen a pet rat in my life until about 6 months ago, when I saw one at the vet. And I immediately fell in love. It was large and fluffy, especially the type of animal i love. So today my girl said "i'd love to get you a pet rat." So I started browsing a bit online to see if I can actually have a pet rat.

Currently i am working at a horrible job. Luckily I am leaving that and getting a new job in less than a month. After I settle into a new, better house, and get that new job, I would most likely get that rat from my girlfriend. I don't know all the specifics of the new job yet, but I am sure I will be there around 8 hours a day, and it would take me about an hour all together to get to work and home. So I would be away from home for 9 hours. I would have the rest of the day to be with my pet rat. I would buy one, and ONLY one rat, even though I know I should get two. There is also a possibility that my girlfriend will move in with me, and she would bring her dog with her (her dog is a very tiny dog that we carry on trips with us. She's a 4 month old puppy :) ) and I don't know how would that affect the rat. Dog has been living in a village so she is used to seeing reddens all over the place.

I do not know how big of a place will I have for my rat's cage, but I know that the rat would mainly be closed when I am asleep and / or at work. All other time (most likely including traveling) he would be with me, possibly on my shoulder :D



To put it blunt: I am not sure if I should get a rat or not. Taking care of it will be no issue at all, but I can't have two rats. Should I get a rat, or should I rather skip it?
Also, please do elaborate your answers since I still do not know much about pet rats. As I said, I have never even seen one until like 6 months ago, and I have started looking into pet rats today, three hours ago to be more exact. But the "shoulder pet" part won over me. I've always wanted a shoulder pet, hence I wanted to buy an Ara. But that's entirely a different topic.

Thank you all for your responses! I'm looking forward to reading your opinions.
 

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If you can only get one rat, you should not get a rat. There are actually several countries where this is illegal because it is so emotionally damaging to them. Guinea pigs, rabbits, rats, and several other small pets should never be kept alone. The only time a rat should ever be on its own is when they are experiencing hormonal aggression, and even then this can and should be solved either through training, "fixing" (spaying/neutering), and only in very rare, very few cases can rats truly be kept alone.

This isn't an argument like food where an animal would be fine with this food or that food - unless a rat has proven they cannot live with other rats, it is a mental necessity that they have company. There are no ands, ifs, or buts about groups unless it is an emergency take in or an emergency aggression case.

Edit: ​Edited for typos.
 

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Having 2 rats is pretty much the same as having one, except is WAY better for the rats. If you want to have a rodent alone for 9 hours a day, get a male mouse. Rats need company 24 hs a day, and I'm sure of this because a while ago I adopted a rat that had lived her whole life alone, and until I could introduce 3 weeks went by. Before she got friends, she would sleep all day in the same corner ignoring me, her toys, her whole cage and even food for the most part. She wouldn't even drink as much water as a rat should. She was living in slow motion and she wasn't happy. I tried my best to spend as much time as possible with her and did my best to socialise her but I honestly thought for a while that she was never gonna love md as I've seen other rats loving other humans.She is a different rat now. She is even a better companion to me. Now she is confident, and she trusts me and her pack. She plays all day, builds nests for her new sisters and is happy and confident enough to go out with me almost anywhere. She is happy for the first time in her whole life. She is living now.

I don't understand why you insist on having just one rat, but you should know that is simply cruel. Rats live in colonies of hundreds, not by themselves. They need other rats to eat, to play, to fight with, to sleep, to groom each other. They are meant to live in packs, they don't properly function without friends.

If your concern is breeding or aggression, you can simply get two females. They can't breed with each other and they are rarely aggressive towards others.
 

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I am not trying to be rude. This is what I tell anyone who only wants to get one rat:

Getting one rat is putting your wants before your pets needs. Rats need company. No matter what. Unless you plan to have your rat on you 24/7, your rat will need company. When you sleep, your rat will be alone. When you work, your rat will be alone. When you are not with your rat, he/she will feel lonely. Lonely rats may overeat, starve themselves, undergroom, overgroom and pick up bad habits such as bar biting. Rats that are housed alone are more likely to get sick. I really recommend that if you can only get one rat, you shouldn't get a rat at all.
 

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Your other responses have been about keeping just one rat, so I want to address "shoulder pet". If you are using that phrase to mean a rat that goes everywhere with you, you need to be aware that not all rats are candidates for outdoor activities. Such rats are fairly rare. I would suggest that you read: http://www.ratforum.com/showthread....f-home-rat-activities&highlight=shoulder+rats for information on how to train such a rat.
 

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It doesn't sound like rats are the right pet for you. Coming from someone whose had rats in my life constantly for almost nine years, I can absolutley assure you that keeping two or more is essential. Here's why;

One of my past rats, Bobby, had lost the last of his three cagemates. Now Bobby was three years old and never had any health problems before but within weeks his condition had deteriorated immensely. He'd lost weight, stopped exploring his cage, stopped wanting to come out and play and I was extremely worried about him. So i introduced him to my neutered boy Tyrion (who had been living with my female group). Immediately, he perked up, he put all his weight back on, enjoyed playing and exploring again, and ended up living longer than any of my other rats, which i can assure you would not have happened if i had left him on his own.

Basically, some animals are social creatures and there's no getting around it. Look at the effect that solitary confinement can have on a human's mental health for instance. Rats pretty much do everything together, eating, sleeping, playing, grooming...mine even try to drink out of the water bottle at the same time (and there are five of them!) Besides, you miss out on a huge aspect of pet rats if you don't have more than one, I could watch them interact with eachother for hours!

So sorry if this wasn't the answer you were looking for but it's the truth, it's just not fair to keep a rat alone.
 

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just to add to what is being said.... it is far more interesting to have two (I have three. If i take one out to hang out with me; the other one in the cage still has company.) They will still be very interested in you. Very interested. And the cleanup is not bad.
our rats are constantly in contact with each other, playing with each other and cleaning each other. I can't imagine one alone....a person would never be able to provide enough contact.
addressing the work issue:
I work 8 hours a day full time, and my fiance and myself still have plenty of time to spare for our rodents...they get out every day, too.
 

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Rats are amazingly adaptable to almost anything except neglect or being left alone... think of them pretty much as little humans, they, like us are social animals. I have raised and owned a single rat, but I work from home and I was there for her 24 hours every day, and she became the prototype for my thread on shoulder rat training. She went everywhere with us, she was NEVER left at home alone.

So yes, you can have only one rat, but it will have to go to work with you or stay with someone who will keep it company all day. And yes some rats can become true shoulder rats that can go everywhere with you... but you are doing things about the hardest way I can imagine... the way I did it.

We have two rats now and I can go out and do my shopping without worrying about what stores are rat friendly or who is left home alone... and my life is a lot easier.

Rats make wonderful pets and great friends. They really are worth the effort, but as other people have written, it will be a lot easier to have two... adopt them very young and train them well and you might even wind up with true shoulder rats. Short cut the process and you can wind up with an angry, lonely animal with very sharp teeth. And that wouldn't not be good for anyone...

Yes, I know one rat seems twice as easy as two rats... but think of rats as shoes... they work best in pairs. One shoe might seem better than no shoes but in all reality it's often better to go barefoot then walk around with one shoe. As to cage size, we don't have a big cage but our rats spend most of the time free ranging the house... There are many ways rats will adapt to your lifestyle and many ways you can adapt to their needs so almost anything is possible. But two rats is easier than finding a rat sitter when you go to work every day.... Try to make your life easier, not harder.

Best luck.
 

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Why do you only want one rat?


Don't get a rat if you want just one pet. Giunea pigs are also better with a friend, have you considered getting a bunny? They're very adaptable and loving. They can even live in your house like a dog.
 

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I'm new to having rats myself, I'll hold my hands up and admit that I never did any research about rats before hand and I'm still learning as I go along now. We bought our first rat about 3 weeks ago and thought she would be ok by herself as we spent plenty of time with her but, one morning I woke up to see her curled up on the little shelf by herself (she normally sleeps in her bed) and it broke my heart, she looked lonely, we realised that as much as she enjoyed our company it wasn't enough for her, she needed another rat for company too. So we now have two rats and they both couldn't be happier. I agree with what people say about they should be kept in at least pairs, it's better for them and when it all boils down to it we want our little ratties happy :relaxed:
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thank you all for nice replies :D

Okay, so apparently I shouldn't get a rat if I want just one, but I keep seeing "you should get two females."
The thing is, I don't want a female. I've read that female is much more playful, nice, and loves to explore. But that's exactly why I'd like a male. I just want a rat that would lazily sit around me and just enjoy my company, without too much activity (Well I mainly don't want him / her running off of me when we're outside on a walk).
With that said, why did no one recommend two males? Can I not have two males?
 

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Two males will work too, however the gender of a rat can never fully determine their personality. I've had females who were squishy laprats and males who just wanted to play and explore. Also, not all rats can be taken outside. That's something you should speak to RatDaddy about though, since he has alot of experience with shoulder rats.
 

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I love both my males and females equally. Males can be more cuddly then females, and females can be more active. Many times I find the opposite to be true. Currently I own three neutered males and a female, and my girl, Lynn, is probably the cuddliest girl I've ever owned. She will sit still for a whole 15 minutes and allow you to pet her, and she will sometimes fall asleep on her back while you are holding her. The same can be said for one of my boys. He loves chasing things, he likes to play his own version of tag, and he knows how to ger your attention. I wouldn't pick a rat based on gender, but I would pick one based on personality. Each rat is different. =P

This is a picture of Lynn when I first got her and she was so exausted that she fell asleep.

 

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Thank you all for nice replies :D

Okay, so apparently I shouldn't get a rat if I want just one, but I keep seeing "you should get two females."
The thing is, I don't want a female. I've read that female is much more playful, nice, and loves to explore. But that's exactly why I'd like a male. I just want a rat that would lazily sit around me and just enjoy my company, without too much activity (Well I mainly don't want him / her running off of me when we're outside on a walk).
With that said, why did no one recommend two males? Can I not have two males?
Every animal is unique, the gender differences sometimes hold true and other times not quite so much. You always have to be aware with pets that you might not get a clone of what you want. They are individual animals and our plans for them may be different then what they want. If your rat isn't like that will u rehome it or still love it anyways?

I have currently 11 rats.

Most of my girls are very hyper, they love to run around, explore, go go go. My heart rat khaleesi is so smart and is constantly trying to figure out ways to get somewhere new lol
My older adult boys are very calm but still not really lazy. They go at a slower speed as they explore. lol I can carry them a bit & they will sit by/on me for a bit to be petted but then its oh whats over there?
My young boys are hard to explain, they definitely have a calmer more zen personality I guess. But are still young & hyper. Actually my one boy Maly is the MOST hyper needy crazy rat ever. He just is constantly bouncing & hopping all over the walls like someone pumped him full of sugar lol! OMG I love him, but he reminds me of a 5 year old constantly repeating- "mom! mom! mom!" because he runs away then runs and jumps up & down in front of me until I pick him up then he runs away and does it again lol
So I do think younger males are still going to be a bit on the playful/hyper side the same as girls.

I have found (again each case is different), that girls get along really well with little fuss.
On the other hand sometimes when boys hormones are racing they may fight among each other. Neutering helps but is often expensive.

I have my 11 set up as 7 girls all together, then the boys separated into 2 different groups of 2 because one set of boys constantly try to attack the other set of boys. But together as 2 they are all fine & BFFS.

A rat is not for everyone. They need a ton of playtime outside their cage, mental & physical enrichment. I would never count rats as a lazy/calm pet. Sure there are the some like that, but they are just so intelligent & so love to explore their world that it isn't really their style most of the time until they start to age and slow down.
 

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Yes, our girls are higher energy, until they get older, they don't much like just sitting around on our shoulders... they love to go go go.

Now we also have a daughter and I think she appreciates playful rats...

https://vid.me/bYiW

https://vid.me/3edL

https://vid.me/BzNQ

https://vid.me/SgmU



The truly amazing Fuzzy Rat would jog through the park with us, go swimming with us and hang out in tall tree tops on warm breezy days. Obviously she could find her own way back to the car. She was in fact a very special rat. Very few rats can become true shoulder rats... girls or boys because rats are inherently agoraphobic and prone to panic attacks. But if you find a special rat and train it properly from a young pup you can sometimes wind up with a true shoulder rat. We just qualified our fourth!

Marsupial Rat Ferret Muridae Grass Wood stain Grass Hardwood Wood Table

Most true shoulder rats do tend to be girls, but there have been some notable boys too. There was even a wild boy black rat that grew up to be a true shoulder rat. Even with our level of experience, we've had rats wash out of the program. The fact is that you just can't tell which rats will make it through and which will wash out until you start working with them at your safe site. In my opinion a rat that only stays on your shoulder isn't much of a true shoulder rat... you have to be able to put them down to go potty and feel safe that they won't panic and run away. We enjoy playing outdoor chase games with our girls, but that's us...

If you would prefer to work with boys, I can't see any reason not to. At any given time, there are very likely only a few hundred true shoulder rats in the world... they are exceptional animals... they need the right personality and they need lots of bonding and handling and training. This is our final test:

Sky Tree Wilderness Cloud Sunlight

True shoulder rats are a real commitment in time and effort... you literally need to eat with them and sleep with them and take them out often to keep them in training. And even then, it's a great way to get a rat killed or lost. This particular form of extreme rat handling is not something you should undertake lightly. If you do it right, and with the right rat, you will have the time of your life, if you don't have the right rat or you screw up you will have a very bad day... your first mistake can be your last. We're pretty good at working with shoulder rats and two weeks ago my 9 year old daughter managed to lose Cloud in a swamp. Thankfully she's a very well trained rat and came back an hour later. But it was a very stressful hour waiting to find out just how good her bond, her training and her sense of direction was. She's a top notch true shoulder rat, and we still worried. Most rats would have been lost in the marsh forever. Cloud apparently went looking for me and when she couldn't find me, she want right back to the place she fell in and waited to be recovered... that's calm and cool rational thinking. That's what a true shoulder rat is supposed to do. And she did it in a very unfamiliar area. We're very proud of our true shoulder rats, but I can also assure you that not all of our rats have been nearly as successful. Those stories are a lot harder to tell.

Best luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Due to all of these stories I am really considering to get two rats.
I don't mind bringing two rats into family, my issue is that in the new house I will be living at, rats are.. well, the most hated animal. The house owner hates rats more than anything. So my girlfriend and I (the home owner is actually my girlfriend's dad) will need to change his mind into letting me get a rat or two. I told my dear what all of you told me, and that I probably shouldn't get a rat, but she said she wants to talk to me more about it later when we both get some more time together (wednesday or thursday.)

So now out of curiosity, who can I train better, males or females? Rat Daddy, I would love to trust my rat(s) to stay safe if I put them down from my shoulder, and to return to me if needed. Can I actually train rats to run back to me if I call for them? And how big of a cage should I get for two rats? (I would get the same sex rats so I wouldn't need to worry about getting... uninvited guests.)

Thank you all for contributing to all of this, you all give me more information than any website had thus far.
 

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As far as training goes, I would think it depends on the individual rat, but that girls might be easier in a sense that they're more eager to get going, but males might be easier in the sense that they're generally calmer and would sit still for the lesson. I know it's not really an intelligence problem, I've never heard of either sex being smarter than the other, but you wouldn't approach training a male and a female rat with the exact same mindset, should they fall into typical roles for the sex. The problem with saying "boys would likely be trained x y z" or girls is that training is down to the individual rat. It's very easy to say males are, in general, calmer. It is very difficult to say males in general are more food, praise, toy, etc. motivated. That comes down to the individual rat, not their sex. You could have 5 male rats and have all be the same as far as reward goes, or you could have 5 male rats and have them all be different.

For cages, I would say that 21 x 21 x 21 inches (about 54 x 54 x 54 cm) is usually considered appropriate for two rats. I generally like to go with something no shorter than 28 inches, though, as you have to figure in the base of the cage and rats love climbing. So, a cage that's got a length of 17-21, a width of 17-21, and a height minimum of 28 should be good. (for cm, that's 43-54, with a minimum height of 71 cm)

I just prefer the 28 measurement myself because height is one of the most important things in keeping rats active and healthy. They are avid climbers, which helps to grow proper muscle mass and strength. However, with lots of outside time, even shorter (or smaller) cages are perfectly adequate, so long as they are wire (never a tank or a bin, unless you have a mother and her pups). The measurements above are just a general guide. :)
 

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I have had males and females. I feel like it is best to choose based on the connection you feel to those particular animals, rather than gender. If you get that feeling...where you KNOW that the animal(s) in front of you have amazing personalities and you could give a lot to each other....go with it.
we had awesome cuddles with our boys, and i still have moments like that with one of my females. I don't feel like I am missing out on anything. :) One of my males was very easy to train, the other wasn't. My females pick up on things rather quickly too. They can come when I call.
 

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To be honest, the real key to training a shoulder rat is to build a pack bond with them. They actually see you as family. And very much like a child, they may not obey every order, but they don't want to get lost or lose you either. Fuzzy Rat, the rat leading me back to our car liked to run off and explore, she would be gone for about an hour and then turn up exactly where she left us. Usually she also came on command, but sometimes she had more important things to do or explore. As she got older, she explored less and if she couldn't be found, she was on top of the right front tire of my car. She would wait for us to come back to the car so we would always take her home. She was about as competent as any dog and just like a dog, she would get interested in things she smelled and wanted to check out... she also had a passion for wild boy rats so we had to be very careful about going places where wild boy rats lived... but otherwise we didn't have to worry about losing her.

Unlike other rodents, rats are pack animals... they are social and they bond to each other to create extended family units... they don't really give each other orders, but they stay together and when everything goes wrong you have to rely on this 'instinct' to bring your rat back to you safely.

The first problem occurs when a rat doesn't properly bond with you. It's going to walk or even run away and never come back. Hopefully it will find a new family, but in any case you come home one rat short. The other problem is that many rats panic, the will run into the street or down sewer grates or into places you can't follow, then they hunker down and won't come out. They can stay planted for hours or even days and because they are in terror, they won't come back. Unless you can find them and retrieve them, they are gone too.

A true shoulder rat can't panic, it has to stay cool and in control and it has to be bonded to you so it won't lose you. It's actually rather funny, because when people see us out with our rats it all looks so natural. When I tell people that my rats are trained, they ask what tricks they do. Sometimes it's hard to explain that the fact that our rats are walking around at heel in a park or playing chase games with us isn't "natural" rat behavior. Perhaps it is natural rat behavior, but usually it doesn't involve humans leading the pack.

To be honest, indoors our rats pretty much ignore commands... there's no stress and no threat they are masters in their indoor environments and pretty much do as they please. Outdoors where there are a lot more dangers they pick up on the urgency in my voice and respond appropriately.

A rat that panics or isn't bonded can't go outdoors with you, at least beyond your safe training site. But with the right rat with a strong bond there's hardly any place you can't go... Still, all rats have their limits and the world is very dangerous for rats so as the trainer and handler you have to develop your own skill set to keep your rats safe outdoors.

I take great pride in our rats, and I've worked hard to learn my 'craft' and I can make it look easy when working with a good rat, but it really is the result of thousands of hours of experience and practice and we still screw up. Like my daughter losing our rat in a marsh two weeks ago. That wasn't on the agenda. But it was very nice to see our rat keep her cool and do the right thing on her own so that she could come home with us. Both rats and humans aren't perfect, we all make mistakes we train our rats and teach ourselves to compensate for each other's shortcomings. There's nothing safe about taking a rat outdoors, it's all about managing risks and preparing for things that will eventually go wrong.

Best luck.
 

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Rats are incredible pets. But you NEED two. NEED. It's not an option.

May I suggest a gerbil? I have one (Yes, one is a mistake I know. I was young and stupid when I got him- he's far too aggressive with other animals to pair him up now that he's old I'm afraid)
He's my little bud. He sits on my shoulder and eats treats from my hand. It took me hours to get him to do that, but I did it. They're friendly little buggers, I highly reccomend them, BUT, you should also keep two of those. They do require much smaller housing, however.

EDIT: Sorry, I just saw that you said you can get two. In that case, go for it! They're so intelligent, and can learn tricks! They're snuggly and overall the best freinds you will ever have.
 
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