Five things to know about rats | 11/18/2019 | Staff
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For some people, just the sight of a rat's naked tail or beady eyes may be enough to cause them to shriek or get the shivers. But Cummings School program coordinator Virginia Shugrue was unfazed when her daughter, Elise, expressed an interest in getting pet rats a few years ago.

Shugrue had kept pet rats herself on and off since college, and she and her daughter have since adopted rats Maurine, Candace, and Tiger Lilly. Elise said she loves rats because they really bond with their owners and love to cuddle. "They like being handled a lot," said the thirteen-year-old, "and they never bite, even with new people."

Rats - Rabbits - Guinea - Pigs - Hamsters

Rats are far outnumbered by rabbits, guinea pigs, and hamsters in U.S. households. But they are still very popular pets—and for good reasons, said Jennifer Graham, a veterinarian at the Henry and Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals.

"We see a fair amount of pet rats, in part because they're so sociable and low-maintenance," said Graham, head of Cummings School's zoological companion animal medicine (ZCAM) service. "I know some people have a phobia around rats, but I'd encourage everyone to spend a little time around one before they make up their minds about the creatures."

Rats - Area - Pets - Graham - Gerbils

"Rats require only a small area, so they're suitable apartment pets," Graham said. Gerbils and chinchillas typically don't do well with handling, she noted, while rats are very friendly. "Some like to hang out on their human all day. And unlike hamsters, which may run on their wheel all night, rats sleep a lot and are most active when their people are up and around."

Curious about keeping pet rats? The ZCAM veterinarians shared five things you might not know.

Rats - Kind - Problem - Solvers - Rats

Rats are smart, empathetic, and kind of adorable. Good problem solvers, rats can be trained to do a variety of tricks and play...
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