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Hiya,

I've been doing a bit of research into keeping just the one pet rat, and 99% of the material out there says that you need at least a pair for them to be happy, unless you can devote a lot of time to being your rats sole source of company. I personally think that I fit into that category of someone who spends a lot of time with their pet, as she spends all my waking hours either sleeping in my sleeve or sitting on my shoulder, under my shirt. We play a lot together, and the fact that I'm self employed and work from home means that we are hardly ever apart, plus she often comes with me when I go grocery shopping or have to head out to meet clients, so I think she's going to be okay as a solo rat.
 

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Hello, there!
Im a newbie rat owner myself. At first I thought about having only one rat, but after doing my research I ended up buying two, which didn't last long, after discovering that my two boys were in fact, a male and a female, and are now separated untill Cornélio is old enough to be neutered.
Anyway, the thing is, that even if you spend lots of time with your pet rat, there are still rat behavious which you will, unfortunatelly, never be able to mimic, such as grooming, sleeping together all the time, wrestling, etc.
I've read on the forum cases of owners who had a rat living by themselves, and everything went well. I saw someone once saying how literally every hour that they were free, the rat was with them. This is what the user RatDaddy said in the thread I made here in the forums a couple of weeks ago:

To clarify one point, lone rats can bond with a human family and live a happy life... but this is a real hardship on the human family. It means spending just about every waking minute with your rat.

So yes, I've don it... and it means dining at rat friendly restaurants or in parking lots with your rat, it means going to rat friendly parks and shopping at rat friendly stores. It means getting up early and working at home with your rat on your lap or desk... it means staying up late to play with your nocturnal friend and to some degree it means most of your friends thinking you're just a little bit eccentric.

And at 1:00 AM once it meant taking a rat with too much playful energy out in the rain to the soccer field so she could scamper and run around and finally calm down and go to sleep... After which I began to wonder if my friends weren't just a little bit right about being eccentric, or just plain nuts.

So, we eventually got our rat a friend, and we still spent most of our time with her and she still got to go almost everywhere we went, but finally we could leave her home with her friend and feel OK about it. Sometimes we even took both rats along... but at least we didn't have to.

So.... while I can honestly say it is possible to raise a happy, healthy and well adjusted only rat, I'd also add that you would have to either be a shut in or just plain crazy to try it... Been there, done that and it's nice to be able to go to the supermarket again.


I guess this probably sums it up.
What I always say is, if you absolutely are unable to get another rat, then it's alright to have just one, if you have anough time to dedicate to them. If you are able to get a buddy to your rattie, I'd definitely recomend it, though!

I wish you best of luck with Isla. <3
 

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Whilst on paper a rat can be content as a lone rat there's a big question of whether you want what is best for them. There's a lot more to a rat having same species company than just keeping them entertained. I've kept rats for a long time now (30 years next Christmas lol) and have come across some who have spent most of there lives alone, they exhibit very different behaviour, whilst they can appear happy they tend to verge on the neurotic, worrying unneccesarily about change, they also visibly become depressed when left alone by there humans and typically are particularly fixated on one human. This shows up as them being very loving, attentive and happy when your around, but are in reality behavioural issues when your not.

These rats also forget how to be a rat, even more so when they've been alone from a young age (thouse first 3 months are really critical). This shows up when you try and introduce them to another rat or rats, typically leading to misunderstandings (they no longer speak rat so mis interpret signals, over react or fail to give other rats the correct signals). It can take a lot of time and effort to help them relearn this and settle with there own species.

For me part of the reason I love my rats so much is because they are rats, those quirky, naughty, loving creatures who choose to share there life with you. In a lone rat situation it isn't a choice, and they gradually turn into little humans, loosing a lot of there ratty nature.

Then theres the pleasure of watching them interact (and sometimes heart ache), you cant fully learn rats and there thinking without understanding how they interact and are when relaxed and natural with each other. Its lovely and complex and a real learning experience. Your little sweet angel can turn into a pain in the bum when meeting a new rat, then be there best mate a few weeks later. That big huffy buck may just be desperate for someone to cuddle up with him and groom him.

Rats are ultimately social animals, they have evolved to live in there complex little societys and derive a lot from same species company. We can try and fill that space but we cant adequetly groom (stroking and brushing aren't the same as fur / skin nibbling in rat grooming), we can curl up and sleep with them whenever they want. We naturally keep different hours to them, they are crepuscular, we operate a fairly boring day / night schedule. We cant help them form a proper rat pack, yes we might naturally be boss, but its not the same as having a rat alpha or rat underlings, we don't react (and cant react) in the same ways.

This is something I am very passionate about as you can probably tell, but its worth knowing I've had a mostly lone rat myself in the past, and whilst I do thik in very limited cases it can be in the best nterest of the rats, I've yet to find a rat who cant go into a group if you take things slowly, possibly neuter and find them the right group for them (e.g. long term lone bucks often do best neutered and moving in with a group of girls for instance).
 

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I agree strongly with what Isamurat has said.

IMO the only time a rat should be solo is if it has serious health issues that could require it or if it is just too aggressive to be housed with others.

I will be honest that I think it is a selfish act to have a solo rat for other reasons. If you really want a solo rat I'd suggest finding a rescue that has issues and needs to be kept alone.

But IDK I just do not understand why someone would want to keep a single rat. Having two is almost no different from an owners perspective. The day to day costs are barely noticable, vet care ofcourse will be higher but you can try to vary ages so you lower the chance of both of them having health issues at once.

There have been actual scientific studies where rats being kept alone suffer from depression and tend to have weight issues because they eat their feelings! Very interesting. Ill try to find the link.

I work at home. I am also agoraphobic, so I am usually home 24/7 lol. The biggest problem is we do not have the same type of life schedule that rats keep. I find rats break up their day/night with short naps and windows of activity. What does the rat do all night when you are asleep? I also think it is a hard concept for us to understand, humans are very social but we also like our private time. We are not group animals in the same way animals are. While a rat may be ok to chill away from the group now and then it is not in the same way where we take a day off to ignore all people and veg in front of netflix lol And IMO it is very important that we do not try and place our logic/needs as the rats. Which is easy to do with pets. We are not rats, we do not speak rat. It would be the same as if we spent our entire life with just a rat and no human contact. I can speak from experience on that actually, being agoraphobic there were huge periods of time where I had no other human contact or very little and my therapist even agrees that it can be very harmful mentally. I have tons of pets who are amazing, but it is not the same.

I have a lot of rats. I have also owned 1 (for a short time when her sister passed) and 2-3 at a time. From my experience rats, even more so females do so much better in large groups. I'd definitely say a male is better off in small groups. But females really excel in groups.

Everyone in the end has to make the choices they feel is best for their pets. But I feel we should always make sure we are asking ourselves if we are making the best choice for them or for us?

Honestly though I am not sure why someone would only want one rat. I think some people are afraid it would change their relationship with the rat or their rat would not bond to them as strongly. I can very much say that is not true. Rats are very capable of bonding deeply, if not even deeper when they have friends.
 
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