Rats as therapy pets
Several types of research have indicated that keeping a pet can support a person experiencing mental health difficulties. Pets offer companionship and give you the incentive to keep up a routine—for their sake instead of yours. The act of watching or stroking a pet which seems simple is well known to lower blood pressure and reduce physical and emotional stress.
Not everyone can afford the costs that come with keeping a cat or a dog as a pet, and not everyone has the space for them. Small animals such as rodents or even fish can, therefore, be a more suitable match.
Rats have a very discriminatory reputation of being "dirty" creatures that carry diseases, when in fact they are very sanitary as they clean themselves several times throughout the day, and they can be trained to use a litter tray.
Rats are considered highly intelligent, which makes them suitable for training to execute tricks and complete obstacle courses.
The more time you invest in training and loving your pet rat, the more tricks they will be able to perform, and the more they will enjoy your company. Like dogs, rats love their owners unconditionally, and they will work hard to impress them.
Why rats are great as therapy pets?
Rats are intelligent, energetic, mischievous, and can be extremely entertaining pets. They are so funny they bounce around one another and end up in the most hilarious positions.
They love playing and enjoy chasing and wrestling with one another. Whether it be by acting silly, or just by offering some small kisses, they always cheer their owners up.
They can be so fun to watch, and once they begin to trust you, you can even start to join them with your hands.
Things to Consider Before Getting Your Pet Rat
Rats are social animals so we recommend that you adopt two or more rats. This is because rats can become bored easily and would need the company of their kind so that they can enjoy everyday activities like playing, grooming, and cuddling together.
They also communicate to each other through smells and high-pitched sounds that humans can't hear. Hence no matter how much time you spend with your pets, you can't completely replace companionship.
Please note that you must reduce the likelihood of unwanted litter, either by segregating males and females or by having them neutered.
Make sure you fill your pet's cage with a spectrum of numerous toys and enrichment activities. The items do not have to be expensive, and you can make your own. You can do so with dried-out fruit tree branches and ropes. They are great for balancing on, and scattering food over the floor of the cage gives your rats the chance to scavenge like they would in the wild. They love chewing and you could also provide cardboard boxes they can hide in.
Your pet rat is prone to suffering from respiratory infections and mammary/testicular tumours, which can get quite pricey at the vet. To lower the chances these;
- Ensure your rats get neutered
- Make sure you use dust-free bedding like aubiose or cardboard
- Litter-train your rats and clean their litter tray out daily
- Thoroughly clean the cage once a week
Responsible breeders should ensure they:
- Plan each litter they want to create with care and consideration
- Ensure they improve the quality of life of the rats they breed through health, longevity, temperament and physical features
- Ensure they do not breed more kittens than they can properly care for and socialize
- Not breed more kittens than they can take care of