Rats are not exotic pets. Rats are domesticated animals.
Pet rats used to be called Fancy Rats, but this term is now discouraged by many rat owners and fanciers. That’s because the term implies that the rats are merely for amusement purposes. Rats have been domesticated since the 18th century.
Are Rats Exotic Pets?
Advanced rat care knowledge is not required to have a pet rat. Pet rats require less specialized care than most other exotic pets such as reptiles, rabbits, or ferrets. Also, it takes much more low maintenance than dogs or cats, for example (although they still need daily interaction).
Rats Carry Diseases And Transmit It To Humans
This is a very common myth of rat ownership. There are many breeds of domestic rats, and some, such as the Black Death (or Ship) rat, carry more diseases than others.
However, there is no evidence that any species of pet rat has ever transmitted disease to a human being. As with all animals, it is best not to handle them if you have open cuts because of the risk of infection.
It is also recommended that if people are not immune to rat diseases, they should wash their hands after handling a rat or cleaning its cage, as with any pet.
Where Did This Myth Come From?
The Black Death was one of the deadliest plagues in human history. It is thought by many scientists to have been caused by a form of Yersinia Pestis, the bacterium that causes the plague in rodents (including wild rats).
But, thanks to public health measures and vaccinations, there is little chance for this disease.
What carried the Black Death in Europe was actually not wild rats but other animals such as gerbils. People often hunted down and killed any rodent they saw at the time, thinking that all animals were carriers of the plague.
Little did they know that only certain types of rodents are carriers of this disease (and not pet rats).
Are Rats Fragile?
Rats are not fragile animals. They are much harder than mice.
Because of their size, they can get hurt as easily as any other animal, but this is often outweighed by the fact that they are sturdier and safer to handle. It makes them a better choice for children who may want an exotic pet.
Are Rats Ticklish?
Rats do not enjoy being tickled. They would not appreciate it and may bite the person doing it to them if they were in a good mood.
Many pet owners find that giving their rat a massage with lotion or play dough is far more pleasant for both parties than trying to tickle them. But washing hands before and after this act is necessary.
Do Rats Play?
Yes, rats are intelligent animals, and they do love to play. Some pet owners have built rat playgrounds in their homes with tunnels, wheels, balls, etc. But many people keep them in simple cages which allow free movement to rats.
Like all rodents, rats love to gnaw, they need a supply of toys and blocks of wood to chew on. If they don’t get it, they can become destructive and gnaw on furniture, which poses a hazard to their teeth.
Are Rats Faster Than Humans?
Domestic rats (Rattus norvegicus ) can run about 10 miles per hour when in a hurry. This is almost the same speed that world record Olympic human runner Usain Bolt can achieve when running at top speed.
However, Bolt would easily outrun domestic rats in a 100-meter race. While the fastest human can run about 27 miles per hour, rats are not built for endurance.
They move much more slowly when they have to cover larger distances. For this reason, it’s doubtful that any rat would ever beat Usain Bolt in a 100-meter race even if you were to cut the distance by half again and again until it was only 100 meters.