I think it's fair to warn people that rats can be this way. No one ever talks about the not so good experiences.
Get a rat, they are just like little dogs, they are clean, they don't smell, they are a social species so you need at least two. That is what I was told when I did research on getting rats, and I did over a year of it. No one warned me about when rats are complete terrors. They all want their favorite pet to look good, I get that too, but I am really soured on them because people never tell you the bad. Even when I tell some people my experiences they just say that's rare or could not possibly be true because rats like dogs must all be good boys and girls and they are "just like dogs".
I own modified ferret cages so they could have a much bigger space. The cages that held 2 - 4 rats could easily hold 9 at 2.5 sq. feet per rat. They were all given extensive socialization. They had multiples of everything. Most were introduced to elderly or baby rats. There is no good reason for any of the things I have had problems with over the years.
I have had to clean male cages twice as often as female cages, and have to do way more scrubbing. Ladders, levels, even the cage bars, covered in urine in under a week. They have all seen a small animal vet, none had UTIs. Their feces smell is much worse than females too. I have them in a large area, about the size of a studio apartment and it gets ventilated sometimes because of them.
Then there is the biting and vicious attacks on other animals and humans both. Nearly all of my males just one day had something snap in their tiny rodent brains and they went berserk aggressively attacking other males. Some of them were fear aggressive for no real reason considering they were well socialized. Only one showed their rat and human aggression right away. The vets couldn't find pain, arthritis, tumors on the brain, they didn't have seizures, literally nothing medical that would cause it. Our other species of pets are mostly well adjusted despite all being rescued from abusive situations originally.
I'm pretty sure I have nerve damage from a rat who randomly bit. One that was never extremely social but also had never bitten before. I get twinges of pain in it every now and then, and it was the most agonizing animal bite I have ever received. I didn't do something stupid like knowingly put my hand in an aggressive animal's cage or break up a fight with my hands. I had no anticipation of getting bit and tried to move my hand away as soon as I saw some lunging. I wasn't as fast as the lightning striker.
I'm so ready to just give up on rats as pets. They are NOT little dogs. They are not nearly as affectionate as dogs, as trainable, or as sociable. They DO smell absolutely terrible literally four days after cleaning their humongous cage with anti bacterial soap and extremely hot water. They are called a social species, but getting two or more can still be a disaster when one or both just decide one day to hate other rats, or people. Everywhere I call says they do not even see let alone fix rats, OR they almost never do it and it will cost no less than $199. That's up to a 4 hour driving radius from where I live. I have tried asking vets about discounts, no go. It also won't fix ones that became fearful aggressive, since neutering only fixes hormones.
So yeah when rats are perfectly behaved, they can be great, definitely not dogs, but great in their own rodent aspects. But when they aren't? Good god, they will raise your stress levels to maximum with all the bad behavior. The god awful urine and feces smell, the constant urine marking were things I could look past. The aggression, and not at all being what people always make them out to be? Not so much.
Give your rats to somebody else.
Did you get feeder rats from a pet store? Any rat from a halfway competent breeder will NOT act like that. Sorry you had a bad experience, but all the male rats I've had over the years have been cuddly and trainable with no hints of agression at all.
I mean aren't all animals like this? I love dogs but I've had awful experiences with them, cats are nice but my ex roommate's cat was satan. Sometimes there's just nothing you can do, I wouldn't blame it on the species
I understand this, so hard.
I have found some.good tips to cut down on smell though with both males and females. I can keep 6 to an enclosure and not have the smells I used to. Also, hepa air filters are amazing.
Aggression is a huge issue I've focused on working out of lines. Especially since there are so many forms your can deal with and poor breeding just perpetuates it. I'm sorry you've had poor luck of the draw with them, I've definitely been there. It's actually one of the reasons I started breeding! If you're ever looking for some solid, well bred rats I can probably point you in a good direction!
So sorry you've had such a bad experience.
My boys also smell bad and pee all over. They smell way less than my pet rabbits did, though, and require half the cleaning.
I have never had problems with aggression, and we have only had non-neutered feeder rats.
I would still hazard a guess that you had an unusual experience. If you're just done, though, and it sounds like you are, maybe you can find someone nearby who already has rats that's willing to give them a try.
1st off I am sorry you are having so.much trouble. I did only a month worth of research before I got my rats who had a previous owner.
I found that they can be social. Females are more social than males. Males smell more and are more aggressive than females. There is a solution you can get that can help with the smell it goes in the drinking water. The more you clean the cage the more they will pee on it. They need it to smell like them.try to Litter train the rats. This only really helps with the poop. I hear putting a small rock in the litter box encourages them to pee in the litter box but I haven't tried that yet. Also I can't tell how many rats you have but maybe it is too many rats actually need a decent amount of space. They also need to be handled daily for at least an hour and the need to run around. Do they have toys? Hammocks? An exercise disc?
My males are super aggressive, so I understand. They all live in separate cages and would attack each other when I tried to introduce, even after weeks of slow introduction. Now I spend hours taking care of them because I have to let them all run around separately and clean 3 big cages. I love them a lot, but it’s a lot of work. They aren’t always easy.
I have 6 boys and three girls. They pee on everything, constantly wrestle, manage to somehow throw poop all over the floor surrounding their cage, and run their very noisy wheel from about 1am until 5am every morning. I love every second of their stinky noisy messes and wouldn't trade them for the world... But I can understand that it's not for everyone. So it's a fair warning to people who don't know whether or not rats are "the right pet for them".