Tantalizing Tuesday: Oh Rats!

Yes, It is time for me to talk about my two little mischievous pets, Spartacus and Splinter.  Now before you quit reading because you think rats are gross, please let me try to change your thinking about them.

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First off, most domesticated rats (fancy rats) are a completely different breed than what you think of when you think of the big, red-eyed sewer rats. Rats were first domesticated in England between 1840 and 1860 by Jimmy Shaw and Jack Black because of the overpopulation at the time (Read more about the history of rats here). Jack was actually a rat catcher, but soon became fascinated with the rats who had different markings and colors, so he bred them and sold them as pets.  Most of the pet rats today can be traced back to his work of breeding them.

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      Spartacus saying hello

When my husband first mentioned getting rats, I was not convinced.  I thought them to be very dirty and lets face it kinda creepy. But I started doing more research,  and I found that rats are actually very clean animals, they are very inexpensive to own, and actually they are very affectionate.  They even get excited like a dog when Brandon and I come home each night.  They wait at the door of the cage for us to let them out and hopefully give them some cheese or other snack.

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         Splinter eating a snack

We decided to purchase our rats from a breeder.  I’m really glad we did this because the breeder was a younger girl who had them very well socialized.  We went to see them when they were only a few weeks old and let me tell you, they were adorable. I instantly fell in love with Spartacus because he was the first one to come up to the side of the cage and lick my fingers (yes, they lick you as a sign of affection like dogs). Originally we were only planning on getting one rat, but they are used to living in a group (called a mischief), so the breeder suggested Splinter for us to take as well. Splinter took a little longer for me to warm up to because he was so hyper, but he has become more affectionate than Spartacus.

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They have been great pets thus far.  They are very intelligent animals and can even learn tricks and respond to voice commands such as their names and “no” (Splinter hears that word a lot).  I will say the only thing that I have had a problem with is that, they chew everything, so keep a close eye on them.  One day I was watching TV with them on the sofa, and they chewed a hole in the corner and began making a nest. They were very unhappy when I sewed up the hole and put all the stuffing back.

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So, if you can get over their tails, which I have actually learned to like, and I often stoke while I hold them, then do not dismiss rats as an awesome pet that is very easy to care for and actually quite affectionate and fun to watch.

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