What are the differences between a hamster, dwarf pet rat and a standard size pet rat?

By Kat Lovings

Standard size rats, especially males, can weigh over a pound when fully grown. They are smaller than a guinea pig though.

Dwarfs rats are very tiny little creatures. For most of their lives they aren't much bigger than a fully grown mouse. When they are fully grown they are about the size of a hamster. This is one of the reasons they have become so popular recently.

Children have always loved and wanted hamsters because of how cute they are and their small compact size that allows them to be kept in small areas. Unfortunately, hamsters have a tendency to bite their owners for no reason what so ever and totally unprovoked.

Hamsters are not social animals and don't get along with each other and are usually very detached from their human owners, not caring to interact with them at all but be left alone.

Dwarf rats have the social personalities of their larger counterparts and are usually very friendly, loving their human friends and each other. But I've noticed dwarfs to be very energetic and fearless. They've been known to jump off of high places and run for hours on end on their running wheels to the point of taking them away from them or upping their diets with a high fat content just to keep weight on them. It's almost like they are on a constant sugar high or something. They have a very high metabolic rate and are extremely hyperactive.

I have also noticed that some dwarfs are calmer than others and more laid back and I'm trying to pick those to breed into my lines to see if I can calm them down a bit.

Because of how fearless they are, and how high energy they are, I don't recommend them as a first time pet for someone who has never had a pet rat before. It would be too easy for them to squirm out of your hand or jump off your shoulder and get lost in your house.

I think if you've never had a pet rat before you should start with a standard size rat and then move to dwarfs later after you have experience with rats as pets. I also do not recommend dwarf rats for households with young children as I don't feel they can take proper care of them.

I feel the youngest a child could be to properly care for a dwarf rat would be ten years old. And the child needs to be at least seven years old to properly care for a standard size rat. All younger children will need parental supervision with handling rats as pets and the parent would also need to be the primary caretaker of the pet, for me to even consider adopting to a household with young children under seven.

I just want to make sure I place my pets in the right households and feel the circumstances within the household need to be just right to do so. I wouldn't want someone taking a dwarf rat home thinking it was going to be calm and sit on their shoulder and find out it was complete craziness and want to return it. That is why I decided to write this article providing people with the facts so they can decide what kind of pet, standard or dwarf would be right for their situation, (we already know either size is a better choice over a hamster :>).

Written on: 08/07/09
Last Updated: 08/07/09