Are Pet Rats Cleaner than Cats and Dogs?

Most people think rats are dirty and carry a lot of diseases due to the way movies and TV shows portray them.

This is an awful misconception and is especially not true when it comes to pet rats. So, are rats really cleaner than cats and dogs? Pet rats are cleaner than cats and dogs because of the way they groom themselves and keep their cage clean and organized.

Cats are curious and like to roam around and touch and rub on things that can bring germs back into the home, and dogs like to play around outside. They like to run through the grass and that can track mud back inside.

While rats really hate getting dirty in any way. They love to clean each other and themselves, and are less likely to get diseases and bring in pests.

How are Pet Rats Cleaner than Cats?

It might be hard to believe, but pet rats are way cleaner than cats. It may sound counter-intuitive due to how rats are portrayed in mainstream media and people’s minds.

But rats are really clean animals. The problem with people’s misconceptions of rats is due to wild rats living near trash cans or in sewers, because that’s where they can live without much trouble.

But if you let a rat live in their own cage, they will take their time keeping their cage organized and grooming themselves.

Believe it or not, cats and rats have a lot in common when it comes to self-grooming. Their tongue is similar and they both use it to remove dirt and filth off themselves.

But pet rats have an advantage: they won’t suffer from disgusting hairballs after they finished their grooming session.

There is another thing to keep in mind when you are comparing cats and pet rats’ cleanliness levels: where they roam around.

Pet rats are easy-going creatures, they love to be in their cages or around humans, nothing more than that.

Cats, on the other hand, like to roam around the house and even outdoors and they find themselves around more filth than your average pet rat.

When you consider everything, pet rats are cleaner than cats even if not by much.

Do Pet Rats Carry More Diseases than Cats?

There is not a real way to measure whether pet rats or cats carry more diseases than one another. But you can take into consideration how often pet rats and cats get sick.

And you need to think about where they get it from. As you know, pet rats like to live a peaceful life in their cage or around their owner’s touch, nothing more than that.

Even though rats get a bad reputation when it comes to disease, this is due to wild rats and not pet rats.

There is nothing really dangerous a pet rat can carry. More often than not, when pet rats are struck by illness, it is only detrimental to themselves and not humans.

Cats, on the other hand, have a couple of well-known diseases that are commonly transmitted to humans according to the CDC.

The first one is called Cats Scratch Disease and it’s caused by a bacterium called Bartonella.

It is transmitted from cats to humans when an infected cat scratches or bites a human being.

Another well-known transmittable disease is toxoplasmosis. It is a parasite that travels via air and infects humans causing blindness, brain damage, and even death.

Usually, these consequences happen in severe cases which are rather uncommon. The thing about toxoplasmosis is cats do not show any symptoms when they have it.

How are Pet Rats Cleaner than Dogs?

Unlike the cat and pet rat comparison, this one is rather easy. Pet rats are, by far, way cleaner than dogs.

As you already know, pet rats spend a lot of their time self-grooming. They do not like to be dirty at all. The moment they cross path with a filthy scenario, they begin to wash off any nasty bits on them.

It can be a tricky thing to determine whether a pet rat or a cat is cleaner. But when it comes to dogs, it’s not much of a challenge.

Dogs are great pets, but they are rather dirty animals. They like to play around in the mud, the park and anywhere they can find fun and comfort in.

They love to take walks in the streets, and the streets aren’t exactly clean neither.

They have no problem playing anywhere they can, and they have no issue getting dirty either.

Even though they might get really dirty they do not self-groom at all. If you want your dog to be clean, you have to either wash him or her yourself or take him or her to a dog groomer.

Dogs are great companions but they are nowhere near the level of cleanliness a pet rat has.

Do Pet Rats Carry More Diseases than Dogs?

Once again, it’s hard to make a comparison between two animals and the potential diseases they might get.

But just like you can do with cats, you can take into consideration how often are those two animals in danger of contracting a disease.

Dogs have a higher chance of catching a bug or a virus than a pet rat due to their constant need for walks and contact with the outside world.

When in contact with other dogs, your dog might get infested with ticks. A tick can carry and spread Lyme disease to dogs and humans as well.

Another dog ailment that can affect humans is rabies. Even though it is mostly eradicated in the developed world, there are serious cases of rabies in places like South East Asia.

A more common disease that can affect dogs and humans alike is ringworm: a skin ailment that your dog might carry and other minor skin infections according to the CDC.

How to Tell if Your Rats are Getting Dirty

There are a few signs that your pet rats are getting dirty with the most obvious one being the smell. You’ll usually notice this immediately when you walk into the room that their cage is in.

Sometimes this can be hard to tell if you sleep in the same room as their cage, but it should still be obvious when you walk into the room. Rats like to sleep with and on top of each other.

They often pee on each other when doing this so check for pee spots on their fur when they’re running around and playing.

Another way to tell that your pet rats are getting dirty is by checking their tails.

Rats are usually very clean and groom each other, but they usually skip over the tail while doing this.

Check for dirty spots on their body and especially check their tails when you want to see if they’re getting dirty.

How do Rats Stay Clean?

Amazingly so, rats stay clean due to their self-grooming abilities. Contrary to popular belief, rats love to clean themselves and will put the effort to stay clean.

They use their tiny hands and their tongue to clean themselves and they do it constantly.

Even though not every pet rat is going to like it, if you fill a little basin with water and place it inside the cage, your pet rat is more likely than not going to take a quick bath to be able to wash off any dirt.

You can also help your little pet rat be a little cleaner in their everyday life if you train them to use a litter tray.

The only problematic spot for pet rats is their tail, but they can always get a human hand to help them with their troubles, either with a bath or using pet wipes to clean the tail alone.

If they can’t get help from a human, pet rats are more than likely to groom each other.

They dedicate a lot of time to self-grooming and grooming each other. Pet rats clean themselves multiple times a day. Which is the main reason why pet rats are cleaner than cats and dogs.


Hi, I'm Mason, I've kept small animals as pets since I was 8 years old. I love to learn and talk about them basically every day. Over the years I've adopted small pets like hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs.

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