Helping your child adopt a rat can be a rewarding experience. Where do we go? Is my child ready for this? Should my child adopt a rat? These are likely some of the questions in your head while considering the process. As you will learn, advance preparation and knowing where to go (and not go) will be extremely helpful when assisting your child with rat adoption.
Why rats make great pets for kids. Rats are sometimes misunderstood. But they can actually make wonderful pets for kids. They are very affectionate and calm animals and will visibly request attention with body language and behavioral habits. A rat will quickly learn its name, come when your child calls, and will have a special bond with its pet parent. Much like hamsters and other animals in the rodent family, a clean cage will be fairly easy to maintain. Because of the mild behavior rats usually have, they are not only great pets overall, but they can make great first pets for kids. Rats are happy to be held by their owners for hours, which lines up with the desire most kids have to hold an animal often.
Is your child ready to adopt a rat? Be sure your child has studied all the basics about rat care before ever adopting. Dietary needs, cage requirements, sources of entertainment, and bedding materials are the first things your child should know. In addition, learning the habits of the rat, as well as warning signs can help your child be adequately prepared. Licensed professionals are a great source for learning. Check with your local pet supply venues and shelters to see if they offer pet care classes. Books and articles from trusted sources will also help. If your child is regularly studying and generally enthused about adopting a rat or two, this is a readiness indicator.
Where should we go to adopt the rat? Pet stores, breeders, friends, rescue groups, and shelters are the most common ways to adopt a rat. Never bring a wild rat into your home, as they may carry diseases. Domesticated rats are entirely different from those in the wild. Adopting from shelters and rescue groups helps an animal in need and can help cut down on the need for mass breeding. Adopting from shelters also helps ensure your rat is properly vetted and has a medical guarantee.
What should my child know about the process? Taking home a new family member is exciting. Depending on how and where you decide to go, the process may consist of holding the rat and bonding, signing adoption papers, and discussing proper care. If the workers do not mention proper care at all, your rat may be coming from a questionable source. The workers should be knowledgeable and interested in making sure your family is the right fit.
*Always contact a licensed veterinarian for the health of your animals. The information above is not meant to replace the advice of a qualified professional and is derived solely from the author's own personal experiences.
**I originally published a version of this via Yahoo Contributor Network
When you visit the pet store or animal shelter, rats can look so cute and cuddly - and they are. But, should you really let your child have a pet rat? As a mom who has made this decision before, I know full well the responsibility it takes. There are many factors involved, such as the safety of the animal, the safety of your child, proper rat care, and more. Rats and other small animals are often an impulse buy. But here's what you and your child need to know about owning one - preferably beforehand.
Does your child respect animals? Before ever bringing a pet rat (or any other pet) into the home, you should know how your child feels about animals. Visit animal shelters and residences of friends and family with pets to get a good idea. Let your child interact with animals and see what the reaction is. If you have already brought home the animal without doing that, consider allowing your child to attend animal care classes with the pet. Many large pet stores and animal shelters offer these classes for free or for an affordable rate. Some include them in the adoption fee.
You and your child should know how to care for rats. As mentioned above, your child can take animal care classes. But there are other ways to learn about the care of pet rat as well. Books written by trusted sources are a great start. If you have already adopted a rat, your first step should be a visit to the vet. Even if your child's pet rat has come vetted and vaccinated, it is still important to start routine visits. The first visit can help you and your child understand how to properly care for a rat. The examination will also allow your vet to let you know if there's anything you should watch out for.
Rats ideally come in pairs. Some rats will do well alone. But they may be happier when they have a companion. This is even true if they have great human companionship. Are you prepared to let your child adopt two rats if it becomes evident that your rat needs company? Can your child handle two rats? One rat is already a good deal of responsibility. Multiply that times two and if your child is willing and able to handle that, a pet rat (or two) may be a good idea.
Rats are very social. Rats prefer to have a companion. However, they also enjoy human companionship. If your child is afraid to hold a rat or will not be around enough to give ample attention, adopting one is a bad idea. Rats enjoy being held and played with for long periods of time. They are highly intelligent and become attached to their human companions. When we owned a rat, he spent more time being held than he did in his cage. He immediately climbed right out of the cage into our arms anytime his cage door was opened. If anything was going on, he wanted to be a part of it. If your child is not ready for this kind of interaction, you should not adopt a pet rat.
Because of their docile nature, rats can make great pets for kids as young as five. If your child is not afraid to hold rats and knows to wash hands before and after handling them, they may be the perfect choice. Be sure you and your child have also researched and are aware of risks and proper care. After that point, your child is likely ready to begin the search for a great companion or two.
*The author is not a licensed animal care specialist. Her advice is based purely on personal experience and research and is not meant to replace the advice of a licensed professional.
Lyn Lomasi & Richard Rowell are life & business partners. Owners of the Write W.A.V.E. Media network, they are your content superheroes to the rescue! Running their network, tackling deadlines single handedly, and coaching fellow writers & entrepreneurs to be thought leaders is their top priority. While rescuing civilians from boring content and marketing, they also conquer the world, living the RV life with their awesomely crazy family and telling The Nova Skye Story. They also strive to one day cuddle with lions and giraffes. Until then, they’ll settle for furry rescue kitties and doggies.
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