Looking For A Low-Maintenance Pet? Adopt A Rat

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Cats and dogs are popular pets, but maybe you're thinking about a more low-maintenance pet to keep you company for the rest of the winter and beyond.

Rats are intelligent, social and surprisingly fun pets. Contrary to their reputation, rats don't live in filth. Domesticated rats are very clean and thrive in cages covered with hay-based absorbent bedding. In addition to fresh food and water, your rat needs a place to feel safe. A critter hut will do the trick. Wooden toys or cardboard tubes provide fun and much needed chewing to keep a rat's constantly growing teeth in check. Because they love to explore and climb, these guys need space and some toys and obstacles like a running wheel or critter ball. Like any other pet, a bored rat is an unhappy rat.

Because rats are social critters, roommates are recommended. Luckily, the Nebraska Humane Society has several rats available for adoption and they are already group housed.

Did you know a group of rats can be called a "mischief?"

Thirty minutes a day outside the cage is an ideal way to socialize your pet. Everette is an intelligent guy who loves playing with you, riding on your shoulder and can even be taught to answer to his name, fetch toys or run obstacle courses. And because rats grow to be larger critters, they are easier for families to handle.

Most people think rat tails are creepy, but this is actually the way a rat regulates his temperature. When hot, more blood flows to the tail to let Earl lose heat and when he's cold, less blood flows into the tail so he can conserve heat. Air conditioning included, he could be the perfect pet.

The Nebraska Humane Society at 8929 Fort Street in Omaha is open weekends from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and weekdays 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. You can always look up animals and find information at nehumanesociety.org.