Rats are not a popular choice for a pet and many squirm at the very thought of keeping a rodent in their household. However the bad rep that rats have been given is largely undeserved and due to a number of misconceptions. There is a widespread belief that rats are disease-carrying vermin. This most likely stems back to medieval times with the Bubonic Plague (aka Black Death). Rats have long been blamed for the infamous pandemic that wiped out millions of the human population and this legacy still looms large in the minds of people today. This is further perpetuated by popular culture and the familiar image of the ugly and “dirty” sewer rat.
It is time for these myths to be dispelled and for rats to be recognised as the lovable and smart domesticated animals they are, and that really, rats do make good pets. Below are few of the common misconceptions that have unjustly tarnished rats with a bad reputation:
Rats spread disease:
Despite popular belief, rats were not solely responsible for the black plague. The deadly infection was transmitted to humans through fleas which were carried not only by rats but by dogs, cats and other humans. The rat unfortunately bore the brunt of the blame and people still today believe that rats are magnets for disease and as such are fearful of close contact. The truth is it is rare for domestic rats to contract and pass on diseases to human. They are actually very clean animals who spend a lot of time self-grooming and probably have better hygiene that you or I!
Rats can’t be tamed:
Another misconception is that rats are wild and feral by nature and can’t be trained to learn tricks and follow commands. Contrary to this, rats are actually very intelligent creatures that can be taught to perform an array of tricks and behaviours just like dogs and cats. You can have a lot of fun teaching your pet rat to shake, stand up on its back legs, jump through hoops and run up your arm.
Rats don’t show affection:
If you think rats are incapable of affection and bonding with their owners you are sorely mistaken. Rats are social animals who love interaction with humans. So if you want a furry pet that you can cuddle consider getting a pet rat.
Rats Smell Bad:
It is true that male rats can be smellier than female rats, but rats clean themselves and their odour isn’t usually a problem. If you have a pet rat, just remember to clean its cage regularly.
Rats Eat Anything and Everything:
A rat isn’t a living garbage disposal. Rats are like any other animal in that they certainly have preferences when it comes to food. For those who keep rats as pets, rat nutrition is a hot topic as rats can suffer from diabetes and obesity, just like cats and dogs. Rats will eat grains, seeds, nuts, fruits and vegetables in the wild, as well as smaller animals and insects. They’ve been known to each trash, compost and pet food, too.
Rats Aren’t Good Pets:
Of course, the concept of what makes a good pet is all a matter of opinion, but some people find rats make ideal pets because they are easy to care for and they are quick to train. Rats are also intelligent, take up little space and don’t require as much money for upkeep.
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