Rats or chinchillas?


Waddles & Puddles
9 Years
Nov 28, 2010
We (sadly) have to give my bunnies away to my friend, and we are keeping the $200 wire cage that they live in. We are thinking about getting something smaller, like rats, or chinchillas. My main goal is to get a small animal that doesn't bite, and is sort of easy to care for. So, if anyone has experience, or suggestions it would be very helpful! Any info on them will be appreciated!

Rats definitely. I much enjoyed the two males rats - Bubonic and Scooter - that my daughter in her teens.
Rats are nice, but my personal choice would be guinea pigs. They can make great pets, plus they "sing". Well, whistle, kinda, lol. Anything can bite, though.

Sorry about your rabbits. What happened?

Cages made to house rabbits might need some altering for other critters.
Rats can be sweet but they will bite. Pregnant females are horrible just before and after they give birth. My ex got a set of nasty "v" shaped scars from a bite he got while trying to give a rat a bath. Cannabalism can also be a problem.

I will say I had one that was so cool though. She would play on the keyboard while I was on the computer. She also loved to ride aroud in our pockets and snuggle with us.

All I know about chinchillas is that they will chew wires (a rat might too), they are really cute, and they make soup out of them in Mexico.
Rats tend to be cheaper (in care, initial cost, etc.) than chinchillas, so even if I wasn't horribly biased towards rats, there is a big factor right there. The big drawback to rats is their short lifespan.

Since I've never personally owned chinchillas, I'll just talk about rats. One of the most endearing things about them to me, is how different in personality each rat is. I've never owned the same rat twice, if you will. My first rat probably remains the closest to my heart. He was a shy creature hard of sight. It took me over a month to gain his trust (I found ketchup, while unhealthy, to be an invaluable tool with him). It was like a light switch when he suddenly trusted. He was like a completely different rat, and bruxed (rat purr, if you will) and boggled for hours, loved to be pet. Another dear rat was a wily female. She hopped on and off the couch at will (only rat I've had brave enough to do so), would come when called, followed me around the house, and had a HUGE crush on my husband. She would scare the pants off of him leaping halfway across the room onto his lap and stand up begging til he swung her. Some rats fetch, some cuddle, some lick (especially the dumbos it seems), some groom you, some learn tricks, some teach themselves, some are shy, some are bold, some are picky about who they like, some are social. But, they do tend to have something in common. I have never met another animal so consistently upbeat and loving.

The two genders tend to have different traits. Females often have softer fur and are more slim. They tend to dribble pee a bit more, and are more active and playful. They also, unfortunately, tend to develop mammary tumors. Males tend to be more chill, more nippy in their cage, more cuddly outside of it. They tend to be lap rats. Their coat is often coarser, and they can be a bit mustier. So long as you stay away from oranges, they usually do not develop tumors. My males usually do not dribble urine. I love both genders as pets. I am staying away from more females until I can find a line less prone to tumors. Too sad to deal with for me.

Another awesome thing about rats is that you can get them as adults, and in a group, and if you spend time with them, they'll still bond strongly to you. I've had adults bond to me more than rats I raised from youth. If getting females, get at least two. Males can do fine in pairs or groups, but I have seen males seriously injure or kill a cagemate after peacefully coexisting for years. Females will often barber themselves and be obviously stressed when kept singly. I've never seen a male do that though, and most seem fine if alone...if they get tons of human time. Most rats are happier with other rats around though. They are very social, and some can become pretty neurotic or overly timid when kept alone.

Plus, they look about as different as they act. There are rats of every color, mini rats, longhaired rats, nude rats, rats with ears set low, tailless rats (not big on those because they use their tails for balance and for temperature regulation), and rats with curled whiskers and fur. In short, rats are awesome. I'll probably never be without at least one.
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My daughter had a pet rat , Henrietta, for 3 years. It was a really neat pet. One drawback to rats is that they have a rather limited lifespan. Rats are very inquisitive and do well in an enriched environment plus lots of attention.
Ok I'm on the other side of the fence lol. I used to raise Chinchillas. They are sweet and friendly and do not smell. Some can be unfriendly however like anything else. They are a little pricey I will have to admit but have longer life spans. Cleaning out the cage once a week and you will have no smell in your house. However, they do like to take dust baths. So financially - it can be a little burdeonsome.
I would go with rats or guinea pigs. I have chinchillas and they can be a bit high maintenance. I love them, but they aren't as affectionate as guinea pigs or rats, and they can't take the heat so you have to make sure they have good air conditioning.

Good luck with whatever you choose.

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