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This is a question I've often been asked, especially when others are told of their short lifespan. In my 30+ years of rat ownership I myself didn't realize the answer until very recently:

I do it for the rat and not myself. Dogs are okay, sometimes, and cats are great. And both (mostly dogs, now) are widely kept. Rats are not. The rat is a rather friendless individual despite its wonderful qualities. And I don't need a dog to make "ME" feel special, or a cat because they live longer.

And they purr. Although there's nothing like a purring cat...they DO get along with rats anyway. I've experienced it.

My first rat was given to me long ago and I got to love rats. Fortunately. Because I often didn't have the space/money to keep a larger pet.

Since they die quickly I see it as giving a few of the many a good home while they're here. No snake's bellies or torture labs for at least a few of them.
 

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Good question. We got ours because my husband used to have three wild baby black rats (their mother was nesting in their chook pen and thus killed, he kept the babies as pets - crazy world!) and had all those adorable tails about the three brothers growing up, their different personalities (one was friendly as any pet rat, two were bitey) and funny and interesting behaviour.

A few years ago, in winter, we observed a few black rats outside our back door in a large Camelia bush. Dear husband started feeding them! I was totally against it and did not want to encourage them as I was was worried they might end up inside the house and destroy things. There were 5 or 6 of them and eventually one would eat cheese out of our hands! They were so cute and interesting to watch - they could scale the corner of a brick wall in no time! So much more agile then even my pet rubber ball rat Monsterchen!
Anyway, I fell for them. (They were gone after we returned from holidays, must have found new food sources.)

Another few years later, we looked at the pages of the local RSPCA and found they had one poor rat left! Oh well, we went there had a look at her and brought Blaze home. 6 months later the little crazy rubber ball followed.

Aside from being allergic to cats, not having the time for a dog and the space for a rabbit, that's my story for "why rats?"
 

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To be honest my decision to get rats was pretty spontaneous, we decided we wanted pets and settled on rats because we thought they'd be cool, we'd seen some in pet shops and we could probably get permission from our landlord for a small animal. I'm heavily allergic to most animals but I am okay with rats. Other than rats, small animals like gerbils who use sawdust are no-go's due to my asthma. A bit later, I found out my step-sister was getting rid of her old rat cage, researched a bit about rats and about 2 weeks later brought home my lovely Rick and Morty.

They are totally my babies now and while the decision to get rats was very spontaneous, I've spent a lot of time researching since and am happy with no other pets for the time being. :)
 

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It was 20 years ago. I wanted a dog soooo bad but couldn't have one because of my living situation. However I was allowed a pet in my home. I was originally going to get pet mice, but a co-worker strongly suggested rats. So I did my research and brought home Wheel and Axel after some time. They both got knocked up before I got them so I ended up with two litters. As to the question 'why rats?' - I think it's their personality. They are absolute charmers! Charm the pants off of just about anyone, LOL!! They're cute, too, and full of life despite their small size and short lives. I like to tell people they're the closest thing to dogs in a rodent sized package :)
 
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