Can a Rat Be an Emotional Support Animal? A Basic Guide

Out of all the animals that people commonly seek out as pets, rats are low on the list. They get a notoriously bad reputation, whether in books, movies, or real life. People often think of them as disgusting or associated with filthy living conditions. 

However, this thinking does a huge disservice to rodents. Rats are not inherently dirty, nor are they mean or unfit to be pets. They are some of the most loyal, clean, and intelligent mammals in the animal kingdom. Just because rats are the underdog pet doesn’t mean they can’t serve their owners with emotional assistance. 

Generally speaking, they are not thought of to be suppliers of emotional support. However, a lot of people are choosing rats as emotional support animals (ESAs) over dogs or cats.

So, does that mean that rats are fit to be emotional support animals? Here’s what you need to know.

Can Rats Be Emotional Support Animals?

To decide whether or not rats can be considered emotional support animals, we must first define what an ESA is and why they’re important. 

Emotional support animals are pets that provide a sense of emotional support for their owner. ESAs exist to support a person who has a mental or emotional disability, such as depression, anxiety, OCD, or more. 

Emotional support animals are different from service animals, which are trained for assisting their owner with a physical disability or illness. They’re also different from therapy animals, which are socialized to provide emotional comfort to a group of people such as patients at a hospital. The former does not require emotional support, while the latter does (for big groups of people). ESAs, however, can simply be pets.

ESAs do not need training. However, they need approval by a licensed mental health professional, who will write you an ESA letter that permits you to travel or live with your ESA

When it comes to animals that qualify as an ESA and beacon of emotional support, there’s no reason why rats can’t fit the bill. After all, an ESA letter is not bound to only cats or dogs, and rats are as much a significant part of someone’s life as any pet could be. They might be more cut out for providing emotional support than you might think. Still, it’s up to the therapist to determine whether he or she feels comfortable writing a prescription letter for an atypical animal. 

Why Rats are Wonderful Emotional Support Animals

There are many reasons why rats make such good emotional support animals. From their unfailing loyalty to their owners to their impressive intelligence and consistent cleanliness, rats are some of the coolest animals and best ESAs you could wish for. 

Here are just a few reasons why you should consider registering a rat for emotional support:

Their Loyalty

Like many mammals, rats are exceedingly loyal creatures once they create a bond to their owner, which they can accomplish rather quickly. They are also easy to domesticate, the first known case of which dating back to the 1700s. Rats are a species that adapt swiftly and efficiently to whatever their conditions may be, including providing emotional support.

Rats are also very physical, cuddly creatures. They love to crawl up and around their owners as a way of bonding with them and are generally very affectionate. This also makes them ideal to have around kids because they’re small, non-threatening, and will shower each child in love, providing a strong foundation of emotional support.

Their Intelligence

ESAs can come in all forms depending entirely on your wants and needs. However, animals that exhibit a higher level of consciousness are typically the ones we humans are drawn to the most and seek emotional support. This is why mammals are typically the most popular variety of pets, and we can empathize with our dogs, cats, and rats more than we can with our fish.

Ever wondered why rats are such a common subject in science experiments? They regularly rank very high on tests of intelligence and consciousness. There’s evidence that rats are just as smart as dogs due to their ability to recall patterns, play games, and respond to their name.

Their Cleanliness

Despite their poor reputation of living in filth, rats are actually extremely clean animals. They spend much of their time grooming themselves and each other. They are smart enough to learn how to use a litter box as quickly as cats, which speaks to their ability to domesticate quickly. You will never need to go out of your way to groom your rat.

If you choose to bathe your rat and set them up with water and soap, they may do the work themselves. Their clean nature will relieve anyone with emotional support needs, as these pets are very self-reliant. 

Their Personality

Perhaps due to their intelligence, rats have very distinct personalities. They are animals of deep awareness and foster a closer sense of connection with their owners. Emotional attachment is an integral part of emotional support, the main purpose of an ESA, meaning rats may qualify better than most other pets.

Their inquisition, wisdom, and affinity for cuddling make rats some of the most qualified animals when it comes to choosing an ESA.

Their Small Size

Bringing your emotional support animal around with you is the primary factor people have in mind when they consider registering their pet as an ESA. One of the greatest benefits that an ESA letter endows its keeper is allowing said person’s pet with them even in public places. This means that people with ESAs can bring their animals with them even on commercial flights to ensure optimal safety for both the passenger and their emotional support animal.

If you have a rat as your designated ESA, bringing them in places that are typically only designed for service animals at most is much easier than if your emotional support animal was any other size or species. Rats can simply be confined to their cage and provide optimal ESA convenience.

Their Affordability and Convenience

Rats are common and affordable enough pets to be found at any local pet shop, making them an accessible ESA option for anybody. Additionally, as opposed to a dog, they are not animals that require constant access to the house’s outside or free reign. Rats’ food, fodder, and cages are all relatively inexpensive compared to usual pet supplies, and they require very little other than regular food and water.

The most a rat would require of you is love and attention, like so many domesticated animals. This reliance upon the owner is necessary for the rat and can serve as a pillar of emotional support that makes them the perfect ESA candidates.


A rat is a perfect animal if you’re looking for animal options that qualify as an ESA. They are low maintenance, exceptionally intelligent, very clean, and easily carried with you if you travel. They are sweet, caring animals who can entertain you and fulfill your mental health needs the way all pets should. 

The purpose of an ESA is ultimately to provide a sense of comfort and emotional stability, which is something that rats are more than capable of doing.

At the ESA Registration your mental health is our top priority. Once registered you have the ability to schedule a session with a mental health professional. Get in touch with a real professional at ESA Registration today!