Originally Posted by gregr
Thinking seriously about getting a dumbo rat for my daughter. I have read that you should get a companion as they will get lonely without. True or not? Also, I am a firefighter who works a 24 hour shift so there will be times without anyone at home for a day at a time regularly. Think this will present a problem?
definitely two.. but be sure it's a same-sex pair!! Otherwise you'll wind up with about 20 baby rats EVERY MONTH!!!
Rats are VERY social animals and need to be kept in pairs or more.. only in VERY rare cases does a rat have to be kept singly, and most of the time it just takes work to get them to accept others (like a poorly bred territorial male you can neuter, or one who's been kept alone all their life can eventually live with others with successful introductions).
Especially if you cannot play with the rat all the time, you will need a companion for them.
Also there are differences in the genders. males tend to be much larger, more laid back and squishy. The boys are more of a lap pet. Badly bred ones with temperament problems won't get along.. but normally they do wonderfully together (I have 11 boys living in one of my 5 foot tall RUUD cages with two spayed girls).
Females are MUCH different than males. the girls are VERY hyperactive and bouncy, and are usually much more petite. I have a soft spot for girls since I started out with a female rat as my first pet rat 9 years ago. They tend not to stay still for very long and won't stick to cuddling for extended periods of time with you..
however, remember that there are exceptions to every rule... sometimes you get a cuddly girl, and other times you may get a hyperactive boy!
as long as the daughter plays with the rats and properly socializes them they should be fine.. they're great pets and I wouldn't trade my rats for the world. (hehe.. in fact I found out recently I'm pregnant, and I swear if my kid grows up wanting a hamster, there's NO way I'm letting him/her have one, LOL!!! they're getting rats and that's final!!! I'm going to be such a mean mother I know it.. but then again I doubt we'll ever be without rats.. so the kid'll grow up with them anyway)