Q & A: Pet insurance and rats as pets

Please remember that the advice given here is of a general nature, and if you have any concerns about your pet’s health you should contact your vet immediately.

Q: Does your practice recommend pet insurance – I have looked into it and it seems to be very expensive?

A: As a practice we do recommend that clients consider insuring their pets. The advances that have been made in veterinary care mean that we can offer extremely high standards of care, but often with associated costs. Being insured means that you are able to source the best care for your pets, including referral treatment if needed, without having to worry about the cost. Approximately 1 in 3 insured animals will claim every year, and it is this high rate of claims that means the premiums will seem quite high. Some practices will also allow direct claims from the insurer, where you would pay the excess and the practice would claim the balance direct from the insurer. Be aware that this service is not offered by all veterinary practices and is normally by prior arrangement only. It is important that you consider what level of insurance cover (if any) that you require as there are numerous types of policies available. Some veterinary practices are able to discuss specific policies in more detail, but like most practices we are not regulated by the Financial Services Authority so are not allowed to discuss specifics of cover offered by other insurance companies. Please contact your veterinary practice for further advice.

Q: My children are extremely keen on getting rats as pets – are they a good choice of pet for a 5 and 8 year old?

A: Rats make surprisingly good pets for children. They are far cleaner than people realise, are sociable and easy to handle and very seldom bite. On the down side they only live for 2 to 3 years, so the children would need to be aware of their ‘ageing’ at 12 to 18 months of age. A suitable cage with enough space and activity areas is also important. You could also consider Degus – another small rodent. They are extremely lively and sociable, live for approximately 6 to 8 years and also very seldom bite. They are avid chewers and a secure cage with plenty of wooden chew ‘toys’ as well as shelves, nesting boxes and exercise wheel are needed. They should be kept in groups for stimulation, and like chinchillas they also need a dust bath once or twice a week – great fun to watch them! Please contact your vets should you need more advice.