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So this is a hella long rant but there's a TL'DR at the bottom.

I'm 19 and currently living at college. Once the semester ends I'll be living at home, paying rent and helping with utilities and food bill. We have a bird, rabbit, and dog at home. The rabbit is free ranged in the backyard, and the dog is getting up in years, and the bird is caged indoors. I'm going to be the primary caretaker of the rabbit and bird just like I was the last time I was at home, and I'll be helping with the dog as well if needed. During high school, I had anywhere between two and five hamsters/mice/gerbils at any given time. At other times we've had cats, other dogs, and horses, and briefly taken care of other animals.

Until now, my parents have been fine with my post-college plan. I'll be working a part time job in a local store and doing online work-from-home stuff. I already have a few people interested in hiring me, the pay from just the part time job is good, and I can get myself to and from work. They won't have anything to do with me and I'll be paying them to live in my bedroom, which is something suddenly required by the magical age of adulthood. Basically, I will be a tenant, and I promise this comes into things later. So I called my parents to see if they'd be okay with me getting a couple rodent pets (I didn't outright say rats because that would have put an end to it right then and there with my mom). My dad is fine with it, in fact he encourages me to get rats as long as I only get two to start with and I agree to give them up if I can't take care of them.

My mom is a totally different story. As soon as she heard that I wanted to get another pet, she flipped out. Suddenly she's the lone damsel in distress who's completely overwhelmed with the bird, rabbit, and dog she's taking care of. I have taken care of those pets for years. You can feed and water all three of them in about 10 minutes if you don't stop to socialize, and the rabbit and bird only need to be fed in the morning. Half the time my dad feeds the rabbit because he drinks his morning coffee on the back porch where its food dish is. The rabbit doesn't look for any attention, and we only let the bird fly around at night once we don't have to worry about him trying to fly through the windows. My dad, nana, and I give the dog more than enough attention. So my mom is taking care of two critters that she doesn't give much attention to. But now that I want to get two small animals that I will exclusively care for, she's throwing a temper tantrum.

So I offered to take care of all three pets in addition to the two rats I wish to acquire. It seems that in the year I've been at college, my grandmother has taken charge of feeding the dog. Fine, I'm happy she and the dog like each other and that my nana has something to do in her old age to help around the house. But suddenly I'm not capable of taking care of the bird and rabbit that I've taken care of four five and a half years. And taking care of the two rats, rather than the three gerbils and the dog I was caring for previously? Ohhhh no, not gonna happen. This was before she even realized I was interested in rats. She's thinking hamsters or something.

But eventually she's kind of coming around to the idea that someone who has taken care of up to seven animals at one time (including two horses) may be able to make some bumbling attempt at caring for four small animals. So she asks what kind of rodent I'm interested in. I tell her rats, and I tell her right off the bat that I have put in a solid week of research and that I have a full plan of taking care of them. And she's known that I've been interested in getting rats for a good three years. I've taken care of almost twenty rodents over the years, up to five at a time. And we only have three other pets, soon to be two because quite frankly, the dog is on her way out. She isn't gonna last long. That's the major stress source that my mother claims, because apparently the dog sheds and drools. We've had the dog for eleven years, you would think she would be used to it by now.

Once I mention that I want to get a pair of rats, all bets are out the window. Mom immediately starts freaking out thinking the rats will give us all salmonella and ebola and that I'll wake up to find the rats chewing on my fingers or through my mattress. Basically every bad stereotype that you can think of. After she stops freaking out, I explain that those fears are totally unfounded. I was expecting her to totally spazz, so I'd more or less prepared a presentation on the Amazingness of Rat. Quoted breeders, wikipedia, online forums, etc., about how wild and pet rats are two totally different things. Not to mention that I've had rodent pets since I was seven. So in the end she agrees that maybe rats won't be the worst thing to happen to the world. But she's still 'eh' at best.

Then she really says something that makes me mad. "But you won't really have time to play with them or take care of them since you'll have a full time job." I kept up a 3.5GPA during high school while taking care of twice as many animals. And excuse you, we've talked about this and you've agreed that you are fine with me getting a part time job. I've told you multiple times that I am not comfortable going right into a full-time job right out of college. Suddenly (read: now that I want to get a pet) it's vital to the economy of the nation that I get an undesired full-time job that I know will not be beneficial to my mental health. And of course it's unthinkable that I can take care of two rats without dumping it all on mom. We've already agreed that I'll be taking care of the bird and rabbit, and I've spent a few weekends at home and done so whenever I stayed overnight. Mom knows I'm capable of doing this but she's just being stubborn.


TL'DR - Not only is my mom refusing to let me get pets due to totally unfounded arguments, she's starting to demand that I get a full-time job (which I have repeatedly refused to do because of my health) rather than the part-time jobs that she has been totally willing for me to have. And she's refusing to even go to the store and look at rats, or do any research about them, or let me present a case in my favour. She claims that me being the sole provider for two small animals will be stressful for her and something I will be unable to do despite a decade of experience taking care of pets ranging from fish to horses.
 

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When you live with your parents (or in any other person's home) you have to make concessions... and sometimes those concessions stink. It may not appear so to you, but your parents' main goal is to take any steps they think will help you become an independent adult capable of living on your own and supporting yourself. To that end, your mom wanting you to get a full-time job isn't a bad thing.. part-time work may pay ok for the hours, but doesn't include any healthcare benefits and won't pay you enough to afford your own apartment, car, etc. in the long run. And this is coming from someone who sucked it up after college and had to live on a part-time job income (rooming with multiple roommates, eating ramen, and not being able to go to the doctor when I was sick).. It stunk and I can think of no real benefits. When I wasn't working I was worried about making rent, affording groceries, paying to get a cavity filled, and praying that I wouldn't have some major health crisis that I couldn't afford.

I had to live with my parents for a few months before I got said stinky part-time job and it wasn't the best. I wanted several pets that they would not allow...and in hind-sight, that wasn't such a bad thing.. Once I got that part-time job and moved out, I wouldn't have been able to afford to feed them, much less provide vet care.

In your current situation, try and understand your mom's point of view (even if it seems unreasonable to you). She probably thinks your current situation is in flux.. you might decide to move out, get a different job in another town, etc. or go back to school.. If any of your immediate plans change, she foresees being stuck with another set of pets she doesn't want to be responsible for. This may not seem likely to you, but parents tend to worry.

If your end goal is to save up money so you can move out (and who wants to live with the folks forever lol), then getting a full-time job wouldn't be so bad.. you can save up money faster and then move out sooner. It would also ensure that you can afford / get healthcare if needed.

IMO, what I'd do in your situation is try to get the best possible job you can (full or part time... even if it is stressful, you want to try and get as much money for your time as you can), show your mom that you can handle that with your other duties (taking care of the other animals ,etc.) and see how things go for a few months. Once she sees that you are handling everything you currently have to take care of, that might make her more open to you having other animals. BUT I would still operate with the end goal in sight: Moving out... Once you can support yourself, you can decide what animals you can and can't have (if you can rent where the rules allow the pets you want which is a whole other subject).

When I was living at home in HS I had a guinea pig, a dog, a cat, and some fish. I wanted rats and reptiles, but my mom has an innate fear of both and didn't want them "in her house". Because I respect my parents (even if I didn't agree with them) I abided by their rules without much fuss. Once I moved out, I got what I wanted (when I could afford it). I now own a cat, 8 rats, 3 hamsters, 5 geckos, a Blue-tongue skink, and 10 snakes... Basically a zoo lol. I only have what I can care for and I make sure that caring for them doesn't interfere with my other obligations and that my husband is OK with anything I get before I get it.

It stinks, but in your situation, you may just have to be patient and wait... I can't tell you that your mom is totally wrong (from her point of view), although she should explain her reasons more clearly to you, I am sure she has you best interest at heart even if it doesn't seem that way to you at the moment.
 

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This is what I'm wondering.....

Are the rabbit, dog and bird your pets, or your parents pets? Who wanted to get them? Were they your pets in high school that your mom had to care for while you were gone?

You're probably not going to like hearing this, but at 19, you are already an adult, legally responsible for yourself. The point of college is to prepare you for a profession that you work in. If you're an adult who's finished with college but unwilling to get a full time job, still living at home and your attitude, " ...........I'll be paying them to live in my bedroom, which is something suddenly required by the magical age of adulthood..........."

I can't help but question your level of maturity. Refusing to get a full time job, as an adult with a college education, doesn't sound so mature me. If you are unwilling to get a full time job and not grown up enough to understand that your parents are requiring you to pay rent because you are an adult now, I personally don't think you are ready to own rats.
 

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I always suggest people wait to get pets until they have their own place. I have just seen soooo many posts where kids or even adults living with someone are forced to give them up or the other people try and influence their pet care in some way or another. or worse... like the people just let them go, sell them, or harm them when the owner is not there.

having a pet is just a huge responsibility and making sure your home life is secure and stable and you are able to fully make all the choices and face all the consequences of having pets (if they destroy something, smell, etc..)

There is also the issue of pets being expensive and perhaps that is part of the reason why she wants you to get a full time job? Maybe if you get the full time job, set aside money each week for vet expenses and offer to pay rent she may be more open to it.


But people not liking certain pets is totally understandable IMO. I am a huge animal lover and to each their own, but there is no way in the world I would allow certain types of pets in my home. Like tarantulas or bugs. Nope nada not going to even consider it. If I had kids I would definitely not let them while they lived in my home.
 

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This is what I'm wondering.....

Are the rabbit, dog and bird your pets, or your parents pets? Who wanted to get them? Were they your pets in high school that your mom had to care for while you were gone?

You're probably not going to like hearing this, but at 19, you are already an adult, legally responsible for yourself. The point of college is to prepare you for a profession that you work in. If you're an adult who's finished with college but unwilling to get a full time job, still living at home and your attitude, " ...........I'll be paying them to live in my bedroom, which is something suddenly required by the magical age of adulthood..........."

I can't help but question your level of maturity. Refusing to get a full time job, as an adult with a college education, doesn't sound so mature me. If you are unwilling to get a full time job and not grown up enough to understand that your parents are requiring you to pay rent because you are an adult now, I personally don't think you are ready to own rats.
To play devil's advocate:

She mentioned that due to medical reasons she is not ready to work a full time job and I feel that this should be acknowledged. When I was searching for a job right out of school the emotional stress that was put on me led to a mental breakdown. We live in an economy (at least in North America) in which demand for recent college grads is so unequal to the supply that companies offer positions, that we have to bend over backwards just to get less than a living wage. It has also been reported in the UK that one in 3 recent grads have considered suicide as a solution to their lack of success in the labour market.

After 3 months of unemployment and living at home I asked my parents for rats as a service animal - something that could distract me from my depression and in return be loved unconditionally. It was a good solution for me to not be working and use my savings to take care of my rats. Financially, it was irresponsible. But mentally, this was the best decision of my life.

Now I am happily working a full time job, am taking care of my lovely 4 rat ladies, and have a stronger bond with my family. Just food for thought.

Robyn, your mom may be a little ignorant of the benefits of rats as pets, but she is probably just worried about you and your financial future (as most loving parents are), like the others have mentioned. Perhaps if you have an open discussion, not only about rats but about your job situation, she might be more interested in discussion adding new pets to your household.
 

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To play devil's advocate:

She mentioned that due to medical reasons she is not ready to work a full time job and I feel that this should be acknowledged.........
I am by no means arguing with you.........I did notice that. I personally have a serious disorder that has had a major impact on my life, so I completely understand that part. And having a pet around is definitely beneficial.

In light of that.........despite my own disorder, I moved away from home right after high school, supported myself through college and took care of my pets. I went back home for one summer in college, but I didn't live there free. I paid for rent and utilities, my own food and anything else I needed. It was not easy to do all of that, but I did.

I never moved back home after that one summer at home. I went right into the work force.

And with the economy the way it is right now, I think that is something else to consider before getting a new pet.

There are pets in her house already, so it's not as though are no animals around for comfort.
 

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I am by no means arguing with you.........I did notice that. I personally have a serious disorder that has had a major impact on my life, so I completely understand that part. And having a pet around is definitely beneficial.

In light of that.........despite my own disorder, I moved away from home right after high school, supported myself through college and took care of my pets. I went back home for one summer in college, but I didn't live there free. I paid for rent and utilities, my own food and anything else I needed. It was not easy to do all of that, but I did.

I never moved back home after that one summer at home. I went right into the work force.

And with the economy the way it is right now, I think that is something else to consider before getting a new pet.

There are pets in her house already, so it's not as though are no animals around for comfort.
I totally understand what you are saying, but my thought is that people cope/handle their disorders very subjectively. I am happy that you found the strength to live independently catty-ratty, but for some this might be a goal they are working towards and to push them into it can do more damage than good. In Robyn's case it is the best solution for getting her rats, but if she isn't able to do it yet, the suggestion would be pointless no?


P.S. Robyn - any update on the situation?
 

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Aww sorry your mom doesn't much care for ratties! I get the rats are gross thing, I think it's like the fear of snakes, just deeply ingrained in our culture. Wild rats are a pest and a vector of disease. Not liking them for several thousand years probably helped our species flourish. Your mom clearly doesn't want any in her home (whatever her reason) and that should be respected. Especially as she is allowing you to live there.

If you are an adult that legitly can't work full time because of health, then you need to be applying and fighting for disability.

Figure out how to make an income to support yourself, move out, then get your rats. This is coming a disabled person who had to start their own business in order to work around their disability. Also someone who had to wait many years before getting pet reptiles.

Welcome to adulting. It sucks. But there are a few perks here and there. ^_^
 

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Some people are rat phobic, it's not that they don't understand or don't like rats... I mean they are terrified of them... Standing on the chair screaming or frozen not breathing and turning blue kind of terrified.. It's uncommon, but I've seen it up close and personal lots of times... If that's where your mom is at your plan is dead in the water. She may not want to admit she's phobic and would rather come up with more reasonable explanations for her not wanting rats in the house. Ask your dad if he's ever seen how your mom reacts to a wild mouse or rat if he's seen her close to one. That might give you some idea of what's going on.

Best luck.
 

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I think that rats have a bad rep of being gross or dirty... When in reality, they're cleaner and friendlier than any hamster I've ever owned. But for some reason, pets like hamsters are seen as cute and cuddly.. Not hating on hamsters, I just think it's funny.
 

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But for some reason, pets like hamsters are seen as cute and cuddly.. Not hating on hamsters, I just think it's funny.
hamsters are evil lol. It is so strange how promoted they are as childrens pets when really in most cases they are not friendly or social animals. They make a horrible pet for children! While rats actually make a wonderful child's pet (ofcourse all children should be supervised and such with any pet)
 

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I was at a pet store once( not one with rats ) and a mom and two kids were getting hamsters and one kid said " what if it bites me as I pick it up?" And a worker said "hamsters don't bite." Sure...
 

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Exactly. I had pet hamsters growing up who were EVIL. My rats have not once tried to bite!
 

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I had a pet hamster as a child - like 60 years ago that was sweet and affectionate. Unfortunately, I only had her for a few weeks. Then as an adult and parent, I got one for my son. It bit. We tried another. It bit. On a friend's advice, I got a gerbil. It bit. I had been raised to believe that rats were "EEWWW". I wish now that at that time someone had suggested rats for me and my son. I might have seen the light 40 years earlier than I did.

I think most people have wild rats so stuck in their heads that they just can't get their minds around "pet" rats. If dogs were known as "wolves" some people might have the same difficulty seeing them as pets rather than wild, dangerous animals. It might be easier if pet rats were known by some other name. I find that if someone is just open minded enough to look at them, they easily change their minds about them. I did.
 

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I found a teddy bear hamster free ranging the mall I used to work at... I took him home... He escaped from his cage every night, no matter what I did, this thing would escape.

And every morning it would be waiting for me on the kitchen counter when I woke up to take it back to the cage... I suppose that wasn't so bad... Except the da***d thing would bite me every time I picked it up... I pretty much got bit every day I owned it, which wasn't that terrible because hamsters don't bite like rats, at least...

Finally it found some rat or mouse poison somewhere in someone else's apartment and got itself poisoned... Oddly, I was actually sad about it...

But when my daughter wanted a pet, I knew better than to bring another one into my home...

I'm not going to say there aren't sweet and social hamsters out there, and I'll admit they are cute... But a friend of mine had a pet copperhead with a nicer personality than the hamsters I've met.
 

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I think most people have wild rats so stuck in their heads that they just can't get their minds around "pet" rats. If dogs were known as "wolves" some people might have the same difficulty seeing them as pets rather than wild, dangerous animals.
Wolves don't hurt people unless they see you as a threat,they are starving,or are very sick.
 

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Wolves don't hurt people unless they see you as a threat,they are starving,or are very sick.
It's not terribly common, but to speak in such absolutes is simply untrue.

There have been many historical reports of predatory and agonistic attacks on humans by otherwise healthy wolves.

Take the ice bay wolf incident for example. Classic predatory attack on a child. The wolf was found to be physically sound with normal body fat at the necropsy.

There are hundreds of reports of "child lifting" aka predatory attacks on children by wolves out of India in the last century. Many of those wolves are found to be in good physical condition as well.

It's a problem of human habituation in many of the modern cases. I know a few of the man eating packs in India trace back to wolves scavenging at dumps. Also the popr infinstructure of their rural villages. The ice bay attack was thought to be caused by feeding the wolves.

France has kept records of wolf attacks going back to the 1300s. Literally thousands of reports. Most victims of non rabid wolves were children and occasionally adult women. Wolves picking out the weakest members of a "herd". I've always found it interesting that north American wolves are far more timid and pose less of a threat then their old world counterparts.

I've been fascinated by reports of Man eater animals for years. I blame reading Jim Corbett's writings as a child.

Oh and for the record, wolves are actually my favorite land animal. Some of my most treasured memories are from volunteering at a wolf sanctuary while in college. I just appreciate them for the awesomely opportunistic predator/scavengers they are. Even if on very very rare occasions they find my own species on the menu.
 

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Wolves don't hurt people unless they see you as a threat,they are starving,or are very sick.
I was not talking about facts, but about perceptions. Rats aren't running around attacking people, usually, either, but both rats and wolves are perceived as wild, dangerous animals. My point was that if pet rats weren't still called "rats", the perception might be different, as the perception of "dogs" differs from that of "wolves". I wasn't denigrating any animal species, just talking about perceptions.
 

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Correct, I always introduce our rats as "trained fancy rats" and make a point that they aren't "rat-rats". I know this sounds bazaar, but it puts lots of people at ease. People are honestly afraid of the term "rat". And perhaps they should be.

Our part wild rat shredded our neighbor's hand when he grabbed her... She would bite fast and hard and deep, she twisted to tear flesh and she didn't bite once, she bit with blinding speed and repetitively turning flesh into chopped meat. And the guy wasn't a wimp... he was special forces just back from Iraq. When I was a kid, the hillbilly kids would ride their dirt bikes to the dump to jack light rats... They told me that once the rats realized where the danger was coming from they would actually attack as a pack... I never went along so I haven't seen it personally, but we're talking about a hillbilly kid with a semi-automatic rifle that admitted being chased off by rats. And no... I'm not suggesting that the rats would have attacked if they weren't being shot at. Whether the dump story is true or not, I can't say, it does seem reasonable... and hard to deny, as none of us have ever worked with packs of hundreds of rats.

I think that historically, people do have a real cause to fear wild rats. In the days before medicine a rat bit could get infected and prove lethal. Wild rats are silent, and stealthy and they are smart and can get into anywhere and they are active in the dark when we are sleeping and vulnerable. And I know for a fact that wild rats can hurt people badly. I'll even add that when our part wild rat was a pup, she would lunge at my face during play fighting. And when Fuzzy Rat tried to push her around, she bit and held Fuzzy Rat by the trachea. So wild rats go for 'soft targets' instinctively. Wild rats are something children definitely shouldn't play with unless they are hand raised and properly socialized...

Yes... if our pets had a different name to differentiate themselves from their wild cousins things would be easier. If Star Trek had called tribbles, Romulin Short Tail Blood Rats, very few people would have thought of them as very cute...

Shakespeare was alluding to this point in Romeo and Juliette, when he wrote "a rose by any other name..." His point wasn't that it would smell as sweet, but rather that people did see things differently because if what they were called.

Maybe we should consider renaming fancy rats to "long tail tribbles"... I mean everyone likes tribbles... except of course Kingons and nobody likes them anyway, so it's a win - win.
 

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Tsk tsk to all the hamster hate. Ravioli, my current hamster and first rodent as a responsible human, is a prince and has actually been that way since I brought him home. Most people run into problems when they get mill bred hamsters from large pet stores or shody mom n pop shops. Just like rats they have poor genes and have never been properly socialized to humans, so they bite because they are scared. Hamsters from breeders, or even decent stores, are much more friendly and even affectionate depending on the quality of the parents and the human contact they've had. They can also become very cage aggressive if their cage is too small. Especially Russian Campbells, which is why Rav's cage has the same footprint as my rat's cage (5'x2'). Idk, I think they are super misunderstood. Kinda like rats, but in a different way. You can't just buy any hamster and stuff it in a CritterTrail then expect them to be happy or healthy.
FullSizeRender (7).jpg (my boy Ravioli)
 
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