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Pet Rats/Rat Cleanliness and Hygiene.


Hi Debbie,
I've been a rat owner for a little more than 6 months now, I have three gorgeous female fancy rats that I absolutely adore. I am curious as to what knowledge you have on the hygiene of pet rats and how clean they are compared to say a wild one. I purchased them from a pet store and was told they were vet assured, with that said I have undergone a lot of scrutiny and criticism as to how clean one's rats are and how safe it is to actually own them. I never thought there was a risk in owning a rat at least from a health perspective but more than one person has cautioned me of all the "diseases" and bad things they can contract and carry. Any information on your part would be excellent and I appreciate your time.

         Philip Spitz

Hi Phil,
There is only one disease you can possibly get from a pet rat, and that is rat-bite fever. You can read about this on my website at on the Rat Info page. It is a rare disease most common in young children. As long as you are aware of the symptoms of this disease, there is very little healthy risk to owning a rat. The only other possible major problem would be a severe allergy to them.

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Debbie Ducommun


I can answer any questions about pet rats, but you will probably be able find answers to simple questions more quickly on my website at If you have a life-threatening emergency you can try calling me at 530-899-0605. I am not usually on the computer on the weekend.


I have been "The Rat Lady" since 1985 and am recognized as one of the world's experts on pet rats. I have 3 published books and already answer lots of questions about rats daily.

President of Rat Assistance & Teaching Society

I am a monthly columnist for Pet Business magazine, and my writing has appeared in other magazines. I have 3 published books.

BA in Animal Behavior

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