Bringing a pet into your home is not an act that should be taken lightly. Not only do you have to feed and attend to your pet on a daily basis, you also have to take it to the vet, play with it, and provide it with a happy, comfortable existence.
When deciding what type of pet you want, you need to consider the pet’s needs and how it’s presence in your home will affect you and your family. Here is a list of ten things you should consider regarding mice and rats.
1. Transport Is Tricky
Most pet stores sell mice, gerbils, rats, hamsters, and other small pets in cardboard boxes. All of these animals love to chew cardboard, so if you leave your new pet in this container, there is a good chance that it will chew through it, even before you get home. Buy a good cage immediately and use nothing else to transport your new pet unless you want it to escape in your car and potentially forever.
2. Water Regularly
Rodents need access to food and water 24 hours per day thanks to a high metabolic rate. This means that you absolutely must have someone check on your mouse or rat regularly when you are not able to do so. If you travel frequently, you may want to consider a pet that requires less maintenance than a rat or mouse. Despite their small size, these critters need a lot of attention when caged.
3. They Are Fragile
Rats and mice are cute and fuzzy, which may make these animals seem like good pets for young children. Remember that, along with their cuteness, mice and rats also bring along a level of fragility that may actually make them unsuitable as pets for small children. A lot of caution needs to be exercised when handling these pets because unintentional injury can result.
4. They Are Food
As much as you may not want to think about it, you must consider that rats and mice are natural prey for cats, dogs, birds, and a variety of other animals. If you own pets that are likely to view your new rat or mouse as a potential meal, then you may want to reconsider having a rodent as a pet. Not only could the rat or mouse be injured, but it could injure other pets while defending itself. If you don’t think that constant separation and supervision are possible, then you’ll have to choose between predator and prey.
5. They Burrow
It is natural for rats and mice to burrow into warm, dry places. This may mean chewing through bedding, tearing up carpet, or even ruining plaster/drywall. Any time that your pet is free from its cage, it must be supervised. Despite their small size, rats and mice can do a great deal of damage in a very short time if they get loose in your home. Protect yourself from the damage that rodents can cause by having a designated play area for you new friend that ensures it won’t escape.
6. Know the Boys from the Girls
This may seem silly, but you should know if the pet your are buying is a male or a female. Sometimes, pet stores don’t adequately separate the boys from the girls, which means you could end up with a pregnant female and not even know until it gives birth in its cage. What is more, you want to ensure that your pets at home are the both females or that they are kept separate to ensure there aren’t any unwanted litters being born or fights breaking out between males.
7. They’re Clean
People often associate mice and rats with disease and thus with filth. The truth is that while both can be vectors for disease, mice and rats are actually quite clean. They groom much like cats do and don’t like to be dirty, dusty, or wet. In general, rats and mice are among the cleanest of all pets you can own. This level of cleanliness ensures that rats and nice do not smell, despite popular opinion, as long as their bedding is changed frequently and their cage is kept clean.
Rats and mice are both rodents, which means their teeth grown continuously and forever. If they don’t have something to chew on, they will chew on anything they can find to ensure that their teeth don’t get too long. Rats have been known to chew on cement, bricks, lead pipes, and even other animals in an effort to wear down their teeth. If you plan to own either of these animals, you need to ensure they have adequate material for chewing.
9 . They May Not Play Well Together
In general, males of both species need to be separated from one another so as to avoid fights. In some cases, females also need to be separated from one another, though they usually get along just fine, especially if they are siblings. If you plan to have more than one male rat or mouse, each will need his own cage.
10. They are Active Day and Night
Rats and mice are active at all hours of the day and night. This means that keeping a rat or mouse in your bedroom may result in your pet waking you at night. This is important to consider if the bedroom is the only place you can put a cage.
Making Your Decision
If you choose to move forward with obtaining a rat or mouse, know that both will make a great pet. Like any pet, they have their benefits and drawbacks. When considering either, decide if any of the drawbacks are deal-breakers.
If none of the drawbacks above is insurmountable to you, then you know you’ll be happy with your new pet.