Many people think one thing when they see a rat: ew! But, I want people to know what amazing pets they can be. Now, to start off, I am not saying to go find a rat that lives in New York sewers, because they could have diseases. However, rats that are meant for pets or feeders are actually rather healthy. While most feeder rats aren't as great for pets (because they are misbred to get more for food and can unfortunately get sick) it doesn't mean they won't make good pets. My first two were feeder rats and I adored them. While they didn't last long due to illnesses, I gave them a longer and happier life than they would have originally had. When a rat becomes comfortable in an environment, they will see you as their mother. You are their giant, hairless, rat mom. And they will adore you. They love to cuddle, especially male rats. They can eat just about anything a human could eat. Yes, even a little chocolate. Dark is better, but it won't kill them to have a little milk chocolate.
A huge thing associated with rats is that they are uncleanly. Which, of course, is false. Rats clean themselves very well and their little buddies will clean them, too. Another misconception with rats is that they like the dark and isolation. They are extremely sociable animals. In fact, when getting rats, it is recommended to get two or more. They can get lonely and crave companionship. They also don't hate light. While some may prefer darkness, they don't hiss at the light and scurry away from it. Rats are also extremely intelligent creatures. You can train them just like a dog. You can even get them to respond to their name with enough training. They are very perceptive and even have their own personality.
My first rat, Sam, was very active and loved to run around on everything and crawl around on everyone around her. However, my other rat, Dean, preferred to stay in one place, mostly with his mama. Calista, also likes to be with her mama. She and Sam are what we call "shirt divers." It's exactly how it sounds. They like to go into my shirt and cuddle. Maybe it's the warmth, maybe they like the sound of my heartbeat, or maybe they're just too lazy to be out and about. One thing for sure, though, it does make great bonding time.
Another thing with rats is they love their treats! Whether it be a nice carrot or a fresh strawberry, you can guarantee they will eat it right up. And look pretty darn cute while eating it.
Another misconception is that rats spread disease. First thing to say about that is that rats did not start the bubonic plague. It was the fleas they carried that got onto people. The diseases rats can carry have a one in a million chance of spreading to a human. Sam had gotten an upper respiratory disease (which, sadly, took her life before I was going to take her to the vet after school), and it did not spread to me or my family members.
Another misconception I've found is that only a boy would want a pet rat. Well, if you were to search "rats" on Instagram or Tumblr, you'd find that mostly females own them. Of course, males do own them, but a lot more females own them than you'd think.
This may have not made you crave getting a pet rat any time soon, but I do hope it cleared up some of the negative thoughts you had before. Rats truly are amazing pets, and I absolutely adored all of my pet rats.