5.9k Share this
BRITS are being encouraged to get a rat because they are “friendly and intelligent” pets.
Dr Jane Tyson, a rat welfare expert, told the Mirror: “Rats are incredibly intelligent animals who can be trained to count, fetch a ball and high-five a human.
“Some have even been trained to safely locate landmines in war zones so that they can be removed.”
Dr Tyson said claims that rats are “dirty” aren’t quite right.
She said: “Sadly, rats have a bad reputation for being dirty animals but this is not the case.
“Rats are actually very clean animals and will spend hours grooming themselves.
“They are also intelligent and highly sociable, forming strong bonds with other rats and with their human companions. They certainly don’t deserve their bad reputation.
“Some people may be put off by the wild rats they see in the street but domesticated rats can make really great pets as they’re clean, friendly and enjoy human company.
“Owners can teach them tricks to keep them stimulated and engaged and can also enjoy relaxing with them on the sofa.
Most read in The Sun
“I think many people would be surprised by how friendly pets rats can actually be.”
The latest figures show there are some 200,000 pet rats in the UK.
The RSPCA received 670 calls about rats in need last year – a large jump from 221 in 2020.
Dr Vikki Neville, from the University of Bristol, surveyed 650 rat owners and found few knew how to care of their pet properly.
This included not being let out of their cage to explore, or being provided with adequate bedding and nesting materials while others had never visited the vet.
She said: “I hope that we’ll now be able to communicate the importance of these aspects of husbandry with owners so that they can best look after their rats.
“Rats are such intelligent creatures and are full of personality, just like tiny dogs, and I think they deserve the best life we can give them.”
The RSPCA said rats can suffer health problems like other animals and should be taken to the vet for regular check-ups.