My husband and I visit New York City almost every fall during the three days that include both of our birthdays, with our anniversary smack dab in the middle. We eat; we see the sights; we try to live like the locals. Last fall, living like locals meant seeing our first NYC rat.
We were in the subway station, and this long, dark, gray creature was scurrying around the track. It was inevitable after all the years we’ve been visiting, and I was just glad our first sighting wasn’t in one of our favorite restaurants. Did you know that some people actually keep rats as pets?
Not those dirty NYC rats, of course.
The February issue of Natural Health magazine points out that movies and urban legends about rats can make them seem like scary animals, but as social and intelligent critters, they can actually make great pets.
“Rats can relate to and interact with you almost as much as a dog or a cat–but they require a lot less time and space,” says Zachariah Maule, director of North Star Rescue in Northern California.
Maule has three tips for caring for a pet rat (should you decide to get one):
- Pair them up: Though they thrive on human interaction, rats also like having a rat buddy.
- Tidy up their space: Maule suggests using recycled cardboard as their bedding instead of pine or cedar, which can stress their respiratory systems.
- Play: Check out the bird toys and accessories at the pet store. “Bird toys are great for rats because they’re both intelligent animals that like to destroy things for fun,” says Maule.
I had a couple of hamsters as a kid, so I’m no stranger to small, fuzzy pets. I just don’t think I’m ready for a rat. I’m gonna stick with dogs and cats for now.