Rats have the same problem as parking wardens and kale – everyone has an opinion on them, and it’s usually not a good one.
They’ve suffered a PR crisis for years, and not even a talented ambassador like Ratatouille made much of a difference to their public image.
But did you know that rats are actually cleaner than cats?
Or that they can actually laugh?
Yes, there are plenty of reasons to love these rodents and here are 15 on why they make great pets.
1. They’re a regal choice as pets
Queen Victoria is one of the main reasons why rats have become household pets.
Her famous rat catcher, Jack Black, was able to train them to do nifty tricks and even dressed them up to impress Her Majesty.
2. Celebrities like ‘em too
From Paris Hilton to John Cleese, rats have scuttled their way into the homes of the famous.
Angelina Jolie had a pet rat too, but was forced to give it up when it ate all her curtains.
3. They are clean
Believe it or not, rats are thought to groom themselves more frequently and diligently than cats do.
They can even be trained to use litter boxes.
4. They can chuckle
Yes, the vilified rodents have been known to giggle. Scientist have even found that rats ‘enjoy’ being tickled, but only if they are in a good mood.
A bit like the rest of us then.
5. They are their own dentist
Rats’ front teeth grow 4.5 to 5.5 inches each year, but they wear them down by continuously gnawing on absolutely everything around them.
6. There’s a temple dedicated to them
There’s a Hindu temple dedicated to the rat goddess Karni Mata in Deshnoke, India, which houses more than 20,000 rats.
Many people travel from far and wide to pay their respects.
7. They’re smart and empathetic
‘Rats are intelligent, highly social and inquisitive animals. They spend lots of time exploring and playing,’ according to Dr Jane Tyson, Scientific Officer at the RSPCA.
8. They form life-long bonds
Anyone who has a pet rat knows that they recognise their owners and respond to their sight and voice.
They are very social and love to hang out with human family members on the couch or on peoples’ shoulders or in their laps.
9. They’re actually more popular than you think
The Pet Food Manufacturing Association (PFMA) estimated that there are about 100,000 pet rats kept in the UK.
10. They may have been unfairly blamed for the plague
The Black Death of the 14th century is usually blamed on rats, though a brand new study published last year suggests that the warm climate in Asia – where the plague originated – meant that the culprits were in fact giant gerbils.
11. You will be more like Ron Weasley if you have one
After the filming of ‘Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban’, Rupert Grint (aka Ron Weasley) decided to adopt the two rats used to play his pet in the film, Scabbers, because he loved them so much.
12. They’re easy to feed
Rats eat commercial diets in the form of ‘rat blocks’, which are nutritionally-complete pellets available at pet stores.
You can also feed vegetables straight from your kitchen, such as peas, bananas, apples, and broccoli.
13. You can train them to do tricks
They have even been likened to ‘pocket sized dogs’ because of their ability to learn nifty tricks.
14. They’re low maintenance
Rats don’t bark, need to go outside to do their business or require daily walks, making them ideal pets.
15. They’re can be good pets for kids
Along with guinea pigs, pet rats make good pets for young people to help care for.
Once settled into their new home, and when they become used to their owner, they will happily sit on shoulders or play with people.