Despite the reputations of their sewer-dwelling brethren, fancy rats make awesome pets.
Rats get a bad rap.
When people hear "rats," the first thing many imagine is the honking huge rats in the sewers of New York. Words like "infestation" may come to mind, along with horror stories of people's unexpected encounters with the creepy creatures.
However, such images and stories are a sharp contrast to the delightful adorableness people with pet rats associate with the word.
Our family has had several pairs of rats as pets over the years. The first pair came from a man we affectionately nicknamed Weird Al the Rat Guy, who had an entire rattery in his basement where he bred fancy rats. And after our first pair, we were hooked.
"Fancy rats" are one breed of domesticated rat. Dumbo rats are another. These are not your NYC sewer rats. They're smaller and cuter and smart and sweet. Yes, they do have that weird, hairless tail, but once you get past whatever willies you may have about rat rails, they're the best.
Have you ever seen a rat eating a Cheerio with its tiny little hands with almost-opposable thumbs? You'll never be the same.
Rats were our kids' first furry pets and they were perfect starter pets. They're comparatively low-maintenance, especially if you have at least two. (They're social creatures, after all.) They're affectionate and rarely bite. They love to play and are quite intelligent, so you can train them to respond to simple commands. (Rats have even been trained to sniff out land mines and conduct search and rescue missions.)
Their cages can get smelly if you don't change the litter frequently enough, but females tend to be less smelly than males and rats themselves are super clean. (A rat washing its face is every bit as cute as one eating a Cheerio.)
Our first rats were babies when we got them and oh so very adorable. Allow me to convince you:
Baby rats, Cinnamon and Midnight.
How could anyone resist those faces?
Anyway, pet rats are awesome, which is why people keep sharing a sweet video of a mama rat bringing her babies to her owner for safekeeping. Fun fact: Rats generally have between six and 12 babies in one litter. (Can you imagine having a dozen babies at once? OMG.) This mama appears to have nine or so, and she brings them one by one to the crook of her human's arm.
The video was posted by Whispering Grove Rattery in Atlanta on YouTube two years ago and has nearly 6 million views. It was reposted this week on Reddit, which has pushed it into virality all over again.
How could it not, though? Teeny little baby rats, a sweet mama rat and a human she trusts enough to hand her babies over to? It's the stuff of dreams. (Or nightmares, if you really can't get past the common squeamishness about rats. I highly recommend reconsidering, though. They really do make awesome pets.)
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