For many years, rats remained a hated and feared species that caused plagues and ate into stores of food. During medieval times, people used to employ specialized rat catchers to get rid of these rodents. However, today many rats, rodents and similar species have been domesticated and are kept as pets. The most popular rat species kept as pet is Rattus norvegicus.
Pet rats have an average life span of varying from two to three years. They are nocturnal creatures and therefore, usually most active at night. Males rats are called bucks, and females are called does, while babies are referred to as pups or kittens. Rats reach puberty at a very young age, usually between six to eight weeks. However, they should not be bred at this early age.
Rats are considered as intelligent, social animals and can make wonderful pets and companions. They are especially popular with children and are easily tamed. They are social and behave best when kept in groups or pairs. For this purpose, same sex pairs or groups are usually ideal. Males usually get along fine with other males, especially if they are kept together from an early age or if they are littermates. It is a misconception that keeping rats in groups will make them more difficult to tame. If the training process begins early, then they learn quickly and generally pose no trouble.
Rats are omnivores and can be fed on fresh foods like rice, vegetables and animal protein. The males are larger and quite a bit lazier than the females and have a coarser coat. Females are smaller and tend to be more active and playful. They are especially known to be friendly with children and are emotional creatures. Rats make good pets and can be treated like any other pet.