Recently we took to finding out what some of the most frequently asked questions about rats are.
We were a little surprised by some of these questions, so we decided to make a feature of it here on the RatCentral blog and answer the questions ourselves.
What are some of the most frequently asked questions about rats? Read on and find out, also don't forget to let us know in the comments if you knew the answers to all of these!
1. Are Rats Nocturnal?
Rats are in fact mostly nocturnal, so by definition they are technically a nocturnal animal.
However domesticated fancy rats appear to have adapted a little from their wild counterparts and are slightly more crepuscular which means 'being more active during twilight hours'.
Our interaction with our rats also means that we can affect their normal sleeping hours, so over time it's possible that your rats may adapt more to a diurnal or daytime schedule.
2. Can Rats Swim?
Interestingly this was a very common question that was asked, and the answer is absolutely, yes rats can swim.
However, not all rats like to get wet let alone swim! It's a matter of personal preference for most rats.
So I think asking if rats can swim is more of a question of whether they have to, and if your rat had to swim they absolutely would. Just like their wild counterparts often do in sewers when they get full of flood water.
3. Are Rats Mammals?
Are rats part of the mammal family? That's an interesting question.
Let's characterize what makes an animal a mammal quickly.
- Mammals are warm blooded.
- Mammals are born alive (e.g. not as an egg).
- Mammals usually have fur or hair.
- Mammals feed their young with milk.
So based on just a few of these characteristics, we can safely answer the are rats mammals question and say yes they are!
4. Are Rats Intelligent?
Rats are very intelligent animals, and these feeds back into the mammal question a little.
In general mammals are by far the most intelligent types of animals on the planet, but did you know that rats are actually considered to be the most intelligent rodents?
You can train your rats to respond to commands, not unlike dogs, and you can teach rats tricks. That's pretty impressive!
5. Can Rats See In The Dark?
Since rats are naturally nocturnal they've evolved very intelligent mechanisms to see in the dark.
Rats mostly see in color, primarily blue, green and grey. Additionally your rat can see the ultraviolet range of light which as a human, we can't.
Even under total darkness a rat can spot out other animals, since the ultraviolet light leaves a small glow around objects in the dark.
6. Can Rats Live Alone?
This is a heated question in the rat community, mostly because rats are very social animals who don't usually do well alone.
However technically a rat can live alone, but this doesn't mean they should.
Certain exceptional circumstances mean that a rat might have to live alone, either permanently or temporarily.
Such circumstances include recovery post-op, losing a cage mate and not being able to introduce a new friend or in some cases some rats just won't allow other rats near them.
If putting another rat into the same cage as a rat that is on their own is going to put either rat at significant risk of injury or worse then it's not a bad idea to allow the offending rat to live alone.
So yes, rats can live alone - this doesn't mean they should, unless it's for a special reason.
7. Are Rats Omnivores?
Rats are omnivores, which means they can eat the same foods as a carnivore or a herbivore.
The diets of omnivores are a little more complex than the aforementioned diets of herbivores or carnivores.
So when people ask questions like are rats herbivores or are rats carnivores it's important to remind them that you shouldn't pick one or the other to feed your rats.
Rats need a balanced diet based on a good food that prevents selective feeding, you can take a look at our review and comparison of the best rat food to see what ones we believe are the best.
8. Are Rats Clean?
Despite what you may see in your cage if you haven't managed to fully litter train your rats in the mornings, rats are generally very clean animals.
In terms of their own personal hygiene rats are considered to be cleaner than cats, which is definitely surprising to a lot of people.
But it's worth remembering that one so you can help dispel this old myth of rats being 'dirty' as they're really not! Rats are extremely clean, but still wash your hands after handling them!
Hopefully we've helped answer one or more questions you might have, but in case you'd like to know more about a specific question please let us know in the comments so we can answer those for you!