Aren't rats dirty?
If you are talking about rats who live in the sewers and elsewhere in the wild, you may be quite right. However, domesticated rats that become pets are actually some of the cleanest animals you can come across. They spend a good portion of the day grooming, have a shiny coat, and have a natural scent to them that is almost like a perfume.
Kids catch diseases from rats, right?
While rats can and do spread disease, typically any diseases that spread from rats to humans would occur in wild rats. There can be exceptions, but in most cases, domesticated rats are not as likely to spread disease to humans as is often thought. Because of the disease spread by wild rats, domesticated rats get a bad reputation they don't often deserve. It is in the best interest of your pet rat and your family to ensure your furry rodent family member gets regular check-ups. But your vet will probably tell you the chances of catching anything serious from your pet rat are fairly low.
Rats cannot give affection, like dogs, can they?
Because rats are so small, one might think they can't be very affectionate. Can a rat curl up in your arms and fall asleep? Can a rat snuggle? Do rats learn their names and come when you call them? Yes as the answer to all of the above and more. When one of my kids adopted a rat, the very first day, he learned his name and even snuggled with both of us. By the next day (and from then on), each time we went to his cage he was already at the top waiting before we had even finished opening the door. As soon as the door was opened, he'd hop right out, ready for some fun. Jack Frost (the rat) spent more time out of the cage than in and was very loving. He really enjoyed interacting with humans and played an active role in the family.
Rats are creepy and might bite my kids, right?
The creepiness of a rat is usually based on years of misconceptions passed from generation to generation. There is also a great deal of negativity about rats in television and movies. Most likely, your rat is not going to multiply into thousands by himself and attack your kids in the middle of the night. Rats are also very docile and generally only bite when threatened or when they smell food on someone's hands. Washing hands before handling the rats and being gentle with them will help prevent biting. Our rat never bit anyone once or even attempted to. He was very affectionate and had not an ounce of aggression in him.
Won't a rat stink up my kid's room?
Another big misconception about having rats around kids is that they stink. Just like any other caged animal, provided you or your child is cleaning the cage, a rat is not going to stink up the room. As previously mentioned, rats are unique in that their natural scent is often described as perfume-like. It is a very pleasant odor to many. You or your child should be cleaning the rat's cage at least twice per week or as often as needed. Soiled bedding areas can be scooped out and replaced with fresh bedding in between thorough cleanings.
*This article is based on the author's personal experiences and is not meant to serve as medical advice nor replace the advice of a licensed professional. Always consult your licensed pediatrician for your child's healthcare and your licensed veterinarian for matters pertaining to the health of your animals.