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Rats, gaining popularity as pets. “They are Smarter than Dogs.”

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Since the beginning of the pandemic, 12.6 million households in the U.S. have adopted or purchased a dog, a cat, a guinea pig, or even a domesticated rat as family pets.   

Rats ranked fifth in the World Atlas list of top 10 smartest animals in the world.  

Rats have had a terrible reputation for being filthy carriers of diseases. They are fastidious little creatures who are constantly cleaning themselves or each other. Breeding domestic rats for pets have become very popular in the U.S.   

“In my experience, rats are very similar to dogs. They are loyal, loving, they can be playful and have such interesting personalities,” said Stephanie Wright, owner of Wright Rattery & Rescue (WRR) in Ohio. Wright has been breeding rats as pets since 2016.  

“You are never really bored with a pet rat! Some rats will really attach to you and can become a part of the family,” said Wright.  

Wright worked for Blue Buffalo inside various PetCo and PetSmart stores. Her family has adopted plenty of dogs and cats for pets, but Wright wanted to expand their horizons. She wanted to teach her children that other animals had something to offer.   

“We started going to the Sunrise Sanctuary Open Barn days and they loved that. I was trying to think of a way for them to get more personal with a less normal, for lack of a better word, animal friend,” said Wright.   

While she was working at PetSmart, she saw an adorable guinea pig for sale. She went early the following morning to pick up the Guinea pig with her youngest son. They arrived six minutes after the store opened.    

“Would you believe it if I told you that there was already a family there with my piggie! I was so heartbroken,” said Wright. After walking around in circles at the store, someone asked if they needed any help. She explained their dilemma.   

“I was thinking that I would just try some mice, but the girl suggested pet rats,” said Wright. Rats were something she had never thought about. The salesperson said they did not sell rats, but she could purchase them at the local reptile store.   

“I went to a local reptile place and got my first two rats, one for each of my kids. I had not had time to research, I got a tiny cage, crappy food and awful bedding, but they were the most loved little babies ever.” Wright said. She now only recommends purchasing pet rats from reputable breeders to get a rat with a good temperament.   

Over time, the family numbers increased from two rats to three rats, a larger cage, better food, and a cage full of interactive toys for the rats to play on. From this point, it grew into what is now called Wright Rattery and Rescue. Doing research is a must before you adopt any new pet into your family. There are many Facebook groups or websites to get food and care information.   

“I now have probably 30-40 adults at any time, not counting babies when I have those. Sometimes I have several litters at once,” said Wright, who now breeds several varieties of pet rats.   

Rats come in all shapes, sizes, and colors; in fact, some rats have no hair at all.   

“The rats that I breed, however, are typically from rats I purchased from other well-established breeders, with breeding rights, or from the breeding lines that I’ve worked on,” said Wright.  

The breeder you choose should guarantee the temperament of the pet rat. If your rat does not get along well within your home, The pet policy of WRR states, she will always take the rat back in exchange for a future pet rat. In her years of breeding rats, she said no one has ever returned a rat for any issue.  

“I have two kids that are very involved. The older one is bigger than I am and helps with cage cleaning, deep cleaning as well. He also likes to pick out a few that are his rats that get special attention from him,” said Wright.  

“My youngest has some special needs, he is unable to be much help as far as cleaning, he does help us give the rats some really unique names, he is always happy to see newborns and cuddle with some big, lazy boys,” said Wright.   

Pets can bring a family together if everyone shares the responsibility of care. Any pet is a big responsibility. If you plan to buy a domestic rat as your next fur baby pet or any animal you are not familiar with, research before you buy one. A breeder may cost more upfront, but you also get a wealth of knowledge from them.   

“They are a lot like us and the best that you can do is treat them with love and respect because you can bet that they would do it for you.”   

Wright Rattery & Rescue, Columbus, Ohio.   

There is a waitlist for rat babies. To get more information go to their Facebook page, Wright Rattery & Rescue. 

Until next time, Diane

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