SMALL WON­DER

Rats get a bad rep in gen­eral, but the Fancy Rat turns that no­tion on its head.

Pets (Singapore) - - Contents - BY CHRISTIANN PRIYANKA

Fancy Rat

rats don’t of­ten have a good name in our books. Peo­ple of­ten as­sume that th­ese ro­dents are dirty, and may even be shocked or dis­gusted when they find out that they can be kept as pets. De­spite all the mis­con­cep­tions about this ro­dent, the Fancy Rat is cer­tainly an amaz­ing pet to have.

Fancy Rats—or do­mes­ti­cated rats—were first do­mes­ti­cated in the 18th cen­tury. At that time, rats were caught for rat-bait­ing which was a pop­u­lar blood sport where a pit was filled with rats and peo­ple would place bets on how long it would take a Ter­rier to kill them all. Th­ese catch­ers be­gan to keep oddly coloured rats and even­tu­ally bred them and sold them off as pets. The name ‘Fancy Rat’ comes from ad­mir­ing or ap­pre­ci­at­ing the rat, rather than from the ro­dent be­ing spe­cial in any way.

Th­ese ro­dents are highly in­tel­li­gent and so­cial critters. They can be taught to per­form tricks and even how to use a lit­ter box. Be­ing as so­cial as they are, they are un­suit­able to be kept alone and will do well with a com­pan­ion of the same sex. Fe­male rats go into heat ev­ery four to five days, there­fore, to pre­vent any un­wanted preg­nan­cies it would be bet­ter to keep two rats of the same sex to­gether. Male rats will of­ten fight in the first few weeks but once an al­pha has been es­tab­lished, will quickly set­tle down.

Fancy Rats are per­fectly suited for fam­i­lies with chil­dren. They are highly af­fec­tion­ate and lov­ing. Fancy

Rats can even learn and re­spond to their names. They are tame when held and are not ag­gres­sive, mak­ing them great pets for kids.

It is a com­mon mis­con­cep­tion that all rats are filthy—and this is def­i­nitely un­true for the Fancy Rat. Th­ese critters clean them­selves con­stantly and also clean each other. Since they do such a great job in keep­ing them­selves clean, bathing them is only nec­es­sary when there is a need to. Bathing Fancy Rats too fre­quently will strip them of their nat­u­ral oils and lead to an over­pro­duc­tion of oils, caus­ing stronger smells. There­fore, only bathe your rats if they re­ally re­quire it. Rats even al­lo­cate cer­tain sec­tions of their habi­tats to re­lieve them­selves

Highly ac­tive, they need at least an hour of su­per­vised ex­er­cise out­side their cage.

Wire cages are per­fect for rats. Fit them with ham­mocks, pipes and rest boxes. The bot­tom of the cage should be lined with lit­ter to ab­sorb am­mo­nia. Keep the cage away from ex­treme tem­per­a­tures, as rats are sus­cep­ti­ble to ex­treme cold and heat de­hy­dra­tion which is fa­tal.

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