Are Rats Or Ferrets Better Pets? (Which Is The Best?)

If there’s one thing that people like to compare when it comes to pets, it would be between a rat and a ferret. Pet rats are not the ones you see running around near sewers and dumpsters, pet rats are called fancy rats since these are specifically domesticated rats.

Ferrets on the other hand have also been popular among pet owners. These animals are small, delicate, and adorable! Not to mention, these animals are considered to be the best pets after cats and dogs.

The question is, which animal is a better one to have as a pet? Would it be the rat or the ferret?

Are Rats Or Ferrets Better Pets?

Between the two animals, ferrets would be the better pet.

Don’t get us wrong, when it comes to pets it would boil down to the preference of the owner, however, if there are pet owners who simply can’t decide between a rat and a ferret, well, the latter would be a better option.

The shortest explanation why ferrets make better pets than rats is because they are generally easier to handle, train, and play with. Also, ferrets have longer lifespans, so pet owners get to be around their ferrets for a longer time compared to rats.

We’ll dig into these comparisons a little deeper as we go along. Of course, it’s expected for both these animals to have their list of pros and cons.

Once we identify the good and the bad things in regards to owning both animals as pets, it would be easier to identify which of the two animals make better pets.


Rats As Pets

When people first hear of rats as pets, some may be disgusted since they know that rats are the ones that they see in dirty little spaces and these animals are vermins that destroy things in a person’s home.

However, that’s completely a misunderstanding. The rats that people commonly see in the streets are not domesticated. Domesticated rats are specifically bred to become pets, so they have different behavior than non-domesticated rats.

To delve into domesticated rats further, we will be identifying the three kinds of domesticated rats and where they come from. So when it comes to domesticated rats, they will either come from a laboratory, from private breeders, or pet stores.

These two kinds fall under one name and it’s called Norway rats, and no, they don’t originate from Norway, instead, they come from China.

An important thing to note about lab rats is they are not commercially being sold to the public since they have been tested on and such. Basically, they’re not bred to be pets.

If aspiring rat owners want to purchase one for themselves then they can choose between two places: retail stores or ratteries (private breeders).

Rats being sold at retail stores are cheap rats that are usually bought for feeding purposes, by feeding purposes we mean the rats are being fed to other animals such as reptiles and birds. So rats sold here aren’t bought as pets.

On the other hand, rats being sold at ratteries are the ones bought as pets. These rats are also referred to as Fancy rats. Since Fancy rats come from private breeders, they will cost more. Expect the price range to be around $25 to $100.

A Fancy rat’s price depends on how many generations were bred in order to have a specific rat born. The more complicated the generation is, the pricier it’s going to be.


  • Fancy rats are capable of showing empathy.
  • Fancy rats are affectionate towards their owners.
  • Fancy rats are effective in treating people who are undergoing therapy as they provide emotional support.
  • Fancy rats have a short lifespan which make great first pets for kids since kids have the tendency to lose interest in things very quickly.
  • Fancy rats are friendly and they like to cuddle.
  • Fancy rats come in a variety of colors, so people have plenty of choices to choose from.
  • Rats can be litter trained.
  • Rats are smart.
  • Rats love to groom themselves so they’re always clean. Baths won’t always be necessary.
  • All domesticated rats each have their own unique personality.


  • Fancy rats have a short lifespan (three years max.)
  • Fancy rats are capable of carrying and transmitting diseases such as leptospirosis, rat bite fever, and salmonellosis.
  • Even domesticated rats have the tendency to bite, although, this purely depends on how they’re being handled.
  • Rats have complex needs, therefore, they’re not the easiest to take care of.

Ferrets As Pets

While cats and dogs may be the most popular pets, ferrets are also making their way towards this title.

Ferrets are just a bundle of joy to have around and having them as a pet brings excitement and a sense of responsibility at the same time.

It’s not common for people to have ferrets as pets so it truly is an exciting experience when people get their hands on their very first pet ferret.

Ferrets can become great pets for owners who like to keep pets inside their homes and for owners who don’t keep any pets inside their homes. Ferrets can live both indoors and outdoors, which is why this won’t be too much of a problem.

However, soon-to-be owners must be wary when it comes to leaving their ferrets outdoors since they are sneaky animals and will escape when given the chance.

For those people who would love to have playful pets but can’t make the commitment in owning a cat or a dog, a ferret would be the next best thing.

Ferrets are playful animals and their behavior actually resembles the behavior seen in cats and dogs.

So for aspirin ferret owners out there, you can purchase your very own ferret by visiting pet stores near you, and hopefully, they will have some available. Also, be prepared for the cost of a ferret. The price range would be around $50 to $200.


  • Ferrets are playful and affectionate animals.
  • Ferrets are sociable animals.
  • Ferrets don’t usually exhibit signs of aggression.
  • Ferrets can be litter trained.
  • Ferrets are low-maintenance animals.
  • Ferrets can live both indoors and outdoors.
  • Ferrets are intelligent creatures.
  • Ferrets are typically quiet animals.
  • These animals are fairly easy to feed.
  • These animals each have their own unique personality.
  • Ferrets can be exercised easily.
  • Ferrets can live under the same roof with a dog or cat.
  • Ferrets make great therapy animals.


  • Ferrets tend to give off a foul odor, especially if they haven’t been spayed or neutered.
  • Kits (young ferrets) have the tendency to nip since they are born deaf and blind at first.
  • Ferrets must be handled carefully or else they can potentially become aggressive.
  • They’re not a suitable pet for kids.
  • Ferrets are curious animals so they have the tendency to consume things that may not be safe and that would cause serious health issues and even death.

Similarities Between Rats And Ferrets

  • Both animals are affectionate and playful.
  • Both ferrets and rats are intelligent animals.
  • Both animals are sociable.
  • Both animals are generally easy to feed.
  • Both animals are capable of being litter-trained.
  • Both animals have their own unique personalities.
  • Both animals can be used for therapy purposes.

Differences Between Rats And Ferrets

Fancy ratsFerrets
Doesn’t give off a foul odor, however, their cages do tend to smell bad.Their glands emit a foul odor.
Suitable for kidsNot suitable for kids
Complicated needsLow-maintenance
Short lifespans (three years)Longer lifespan (eight to 10 years)

Do Ferrets Smell Worse Than Rats?

Yes, ferrets smell worse than rats.

When it comes to smell, ferrets emit this foul odor, whereas rats do not. Rats are clean animals which is why they don’t stink.

The odor that ferrets emit are all natural and this comes from their scent glands. For some people, this is completely tolerable, for others, it’s a nightmare.

If owners wish to remove the musky scent from their ferrets, then it’s advised for them to have their pets neutered or spayed. This would remove the majority of the smell that comes from the scent glands.

Can Rats Live With Ferrets?

Absolutely not. Rats should never be within the same vicinity as ferrets as this is dangerous.

Ferrets have this scent that wards off rodents, rabbits, and the like because they are preys to ferrets.

Ferrets have been used as hunters that would hunt down vermins, so naturally, it’s already on their system to attack rodents, rabits, guinea pigs, and other animals under this family.

If an owner has pet rats and has plans on buying a ferret, then they have to think twice before making that purchase. If they still want to see their rats alive, then they mustn’t expse them to ferrets at all costs!

Will A Ferret Kill A Rat?

Yes, a ferret would kill a rat.

As we’ve mentioned before, it’s already in a ferret’s genes to hunt down animals that classify under the family rodentia.

We all know that hunting down doesn’t  just end with capturing.

Which Is Smarter, A Rat Or A Ferret?

Neither is smarter than the other.

Both animals are intelligent and no study has proven that one is smarter than the other.