Jun 29 2015

June 2015′s Animal Of The Month – Rats

June is nearly over and it’s time to bid the friendly rat a fond farewell. We hope you enjoyed our tweets on these charming but misunderstood rodents as you followed us on Twitter @ExoticPetVets. If you missed any of our fun and fascinating facts on rats, here is a summary of our tweets. You can also find out more information about rats in the illustrated articles section of our web site. Did you know?:

  • In scientific classification, rats belong to the Muroidea – a superfamily of rodents, that includes mice and gerbils.
  • Domestic rats, those kept as pets and used in research, are descended from the wild brown rat (Rattus norvegicus).
  • Domestic rats have been bred and kept in captivity for about 100 years.
  • There are different varieties of domesticated rats, such as Hooded, Rex and Dumbo.
  • Rats have various colours, including solid, patterns and coats in which individual hairs are banded in multiple colours.
  • Rats’ coats can vary depending on rat type. Some have course or stiff hair, some have curly hair and some have no hair.
  • Rats are intelligent, social, interactive pets. They’re very clean, despite popular belief, and are diligent at grooming.
  • Rats can also be taught tricks!
  • Rats are used extensively in research, hence the term “lab rat.”
  • Because of their intelligence, rats are the subjects of many psychological experiments.
  • A study from the University of Minnesota found that rats, like humans, can feel regret.
  • Another study suggests rats are capable of empathy and altruism.
  • Rats are opportunistic omnivores, meaning they eat anything when it is available (both plant and animal protein).
  • Pet rats are prone to obesity if not fed properly.
  • Pet rats’ diet should mostly be pellets formulated for rodents + a variety of small pieces of fruits & veggies daily.
  • Rats can have the occasional treat. Small amounts of healthy “people” food is OK, but never give them junk food.
  • Rats in captivity can be housed peacefully together as they are social creatures and rarely fight.
  • Male rats can live well together if housed together starting at a young age.
  • Female rats are more accepting of new cage mates at any age, but if she’s a new mom she may fight with other females.
  • Rats are easy to train and have an excellent sense of smell – two traits that have garnered rats employment with humans.
  • There are rats who have been trained to detect landmines and tuberculosis with their keen sense of smell.
  • There is also a case of a rat named Rattie, who helped wire U.S. schools to the Internet.
  • Rats abound in folklore, literature, popular culture and everyday speech, with mostly negative portrayals.
  • The Pied Piper of Hamelin is a famous tale of a rat-catcher who lures rats – then kids – out of town by playing a pipe.
  • “Rat” is used to describe a person who betrays associates. It’s also used as a verb to describe the act of snitching.

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