Why You Should Get More Than One Rat

Rats are intelligent and highly social animals. They live in colonies that range in size depending on resources and other factors. In good conditions, the colony is often quite large. Within the group, a social structure is necessary for the health and happiness of the group. Their complex communication provides the colony with information about their surroundings, where to find food, where dangers may be, and even inform the others about any poisonous foods. The colony provides the social interaction that only other rats can provide. Other rats provide play, someone to cuddle and sleep with, protection, safety and comfort. A lone rat's existence is like keeping a dog chained to a dog house without human or other animal interaction. I've read elsewhere that is is likened to a person living in solitary confinement. I think many people could understand that analogy. At least I hope so!

Humans are just not able to provide the same continuous interaction a rat needs and craves. A lone rat will survive, but its existence will be very lonely and the rat will be depressed. When a rat is depressed it is stressed too. This leaves the rat vulnerable to physical and behavioral problems. A stressed rat has a lowered immune system and thus it becomes much more susceptible to diseases, such as Mycoplasma. This means vet bills and probably a shorter lifespan of your rat. Why put your pet rat through all that!

A lone rat is likely to have behavioral changes too. Your rat will not bond to you in any different or better way than if you have 2 or more. It could be quite the contrary! Your rat could become shy and not want to come out of its cage. It may startle easily and run to hide from what it perceives as a threat. It might even become defensive and aggressive. Your lone rat doesn't have other rats to provide security, so it feels "open and exposed to danger."
It's best to have a pair or more of the same sex in a cage large enough to accommodate the number of rats you have. (See the article on housing.) Making certain they are all the same sex will prevent unwanted litters. You could be stuck with and quickly become overwhelmed with 15 or more babies that in only 5 or 6 weeks could be breeding even more litters!

These are all reasons why a breeder will only sell rats in same-sex pairs. A good breeder will only let somebody take one rat if they are certain the person already has another rat to give the new one company of its own kind.

I do hope this article has provided you with the understanding of why you should acquire 2 or more rats instead of just one. Believe me, your rats will be grateful!