Pet Rats/Diseases


My mom won't let me get a pet rat because 1.) they are born with and carry diseases and 2.) They attract wild rats into the home. I was wondering if domesticated rats can transfer diseases to humans or if they are life threatening to humans in any way and if all domesticated rats carry diseases and if #2 is true or false

Your mom is incorrect on both points.  People that do not understand that pet rats are entirely different than their wild relatives believe the misconceptions that they read about and hear.  Pet rats are one of the best choices as pets ,especially for people who don't have the space or time to keep a dog yet want the same kind of companionship that a dog would give.  Pet rats are often compared to dogs in their sweet personality, willingness to play, learn tricks, and show affection to their owners.

The only "condition" that all pet rats are born with is called mycoplasmosis, which may remain dormant for their entire lives or may be spurned by improper and unclean living conditions which result in respiratory infections in the rat.  These infections are NOT transmittable to humans.  These infections are treatable with antibiotics.

Rats physiology is very similar to humans, thus scientists use of pet rats in labs to study in order to help come up with cures for human diseases.  Pet rats can develop almost any disease that humans can get, but usually in their older age.  This includes cancer, liver disease, stroke, diabetes, etc.  However NONE of these diseases is transmit table to humans.  Conversely, humans viruses cannot be transmitted to pet rats.  In other words, they won't catch your cold or flu.

To address your second point, pet rats do not attract wild rats into the home.  

I don't know your age, but I assume you are young as you mention your mother not allowing rats.  Therefore, I feel the need to discuss with you the commitment of owning pet rats.  Although purchasing pet rats is fairly inexpensive at a pet store or breeder, you must be aware that vet costs if they get ill can be very high.  Please do not adopt pet rats if you are not prepared financially to cover vets bills, which are sure to be needed at some point, just as there are vet costs when owning a dog or cat.  For example, a basic vet visit/exam may run you about $60.  Prescription medications if needed can cost anywhere between $15 and $50 depending on the medication.  If you were to own female rats, the likelihood they will develop mammary tumors is very high after they reach 18 months of age.  Surgery to remove these tumors can run you anywhere from $175 to $300 depending on your vet.  Male rats can develop tumors as well, among any of the other diseases.  You must also make sure you can find a reliable exotic vet in your area BEFORE you adopt rats, as a standard vet would usually see only dogs and cats.

I hope this addresses your concerns and makes you think twice about pet rat ownership unless you are certain you can afford their care. Please let me know if I can answer any other questions.

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Irene Murphy


I can answer a variety of questions regarding adoption and care of pet rats throughout their lifetimes, including questions about their health and well being, temperment, diet, bedding, cages, toys, etc. I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability in a timely manner and I have an abundant amount of resources to help me to help you with your pet rats. I love rattie pictures, so include pics with your question if you can. You may ask me medical questions, but please be advised that I am not a vet. I may use my resources to answer some medical questions, however, I will need to refer you to your local vet with medical questions that I feel I am not qualified to address.


I have been a huge rat enthusiast for many years. Since becoming a rat owner, I have educated myself in all areas of pet rats from every resource I could find including the internet, books, conversations with local exotic vets, as well as several local rat breeders.

I have a college degree but not in the area of animals. I have obtained my extensive experience and knowlege of pet rats all on my own because in my eyes, pet rats are the most interesting and fascinating creatures you can ever imagine to have as pets. I also am saddened by how mislabeled and misunderstood these amazing and extremely smart animals are by the majority, and my mission in life has become to educate and change as many people's perceptions of rats as I possibly can.

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