Rats are awesome!
February 10, 2018 2:59 PM   Subscribe

Rats get a bum rap from people who have never met one. They love to play with other species—including cats [upbeat country music]! A Brooklyn cat café uses them to socialize kittens. And they are clicker-trainable: Rat Tricks I [upbeat acoustic guitar], Rat Tricks II [upbeat rock music].
posted by Johnny Wallflower (24 comments total) 21 users marked this as a favorite
posted by Roverlaw at 3:23 PM on February 10, 2018

The Bruce Hornsby of animals.
posted by thelonius at 3:29 PM on February 10, 2018

Rats are great! I briefly enjoyed having a pet rat as a teenager - she was from a friend who moved out of the country our last year of high school so she was fully grown by the time she moved in with me.

I'd always wanted some kind of pet rodent but first we had a tragically stupid golden retriever who would have eaten anything that didn't fight back and then we had a vicious hunter cat who would catch squirrels bigger than her and regularly caught birds seemingly in midair. A bunny or a hamster wouldn't have stood a chance. This cat was still around when I got the rat, but she'd mellowed a bit with age (she actually lived for a good eight more years) and we figured it'd be okay as long as I mostly kept my door closed when I went to school and made sure the cat was outside if the rat was playing in the house.

Well! It turns out my rat loved to play in the bathtub, sometimes with some water in it and sometimes just dry. She liked to scramble up the sides and slide back down again, I'd have my arm as an exit ramp but she'd just leap off and scoot back down. So I took to having her in the bathroom while the cat was in the house. But the cat was an expert at opening up the bathroom door when unlocked, a fact I hadn't considered. So here comes our murdercat into the bathroom, following the smell of prey, and I'm trying to scoop my rat up and run off but the rat wants to play in the tub more and is all slippery... and it turns out, of all the things, that our murdercat, who contended with giant dogs and tomcats and foxes and probably would have felled a bear if necessary, was TERRIFIED of my rat. All she did was lift up on her back legs and smell the cat, walk forward a bit and look interested, and the cat puffed up like a skittish kitten and then hid behind the toilet. I had literally never seen her scared before and this cat had lived with us for 12 years.

My rat passed away too soon, she was only barely four when she got cancer in her mammary glands and I'd only had her for about a year. But in the time I had her she was a sweet and cute presence in my life. I was applying to colleges and freaking out about portfolios and she reminded me to take breaks and enjoy little things. She loved tummy rubs and was very particular about keeping her whiskers tidy. I built a large modular construction of toilet paper tubes that she loved navigating and chewing. She would snuggle up against my neck behind my hair and watch tv with me. When she napped she'd make little teeny tiny snores. Her fur was soft and her tail was warm and would curl around my wrist in greeting and excitement. A good bean, and the only thing my cat was ever scared of.
posted by Mizu at 4:06 PM on February 10, 2018 [50 favorites]

Rats are awesome pets and at the same time they're awful pests. You can love and hate rats all at once.
posted by elsietheeel at 4:17 PM on February 10, 2018 [3 favorites]

You can love and hate rats all at once.

Yep. They'll chew through sheetrock to shit all over everything in your house, eat your food, and reproduce and die in your walls. I admire their tenacity and razor-honed ability to exploit the urban landscape for sheer, gross, wild fecundity ... but love is a little strong.
posted by ryanshepard at 4:31 PM on February 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

They can also sniff out land mines and detect Tuberculosis.
posted by Ufez Jones at 5:01 PM on February 10, 2018 [6 favorites]

Get em Mr. Kitty!
posted by Beholder at 5:08 PM on February 10, 2018

Is this the thread for sharing cute rat videos?
Rats eating applesauce
Rat wagging his tail while being petted (music)
Rat playing peekaboo with their owner (probably a pouch rat, but still cute)
Ticklish rats
Rats fishing for peas
posted by Aleyn at 5:39 PM on February 10, 2018 [8 favorites]

is there a way to saw "aww, rats!" and have it read as positive, like I'm saying "oh rats I love those"? because if so

aww, rats!
posted by idiopath at 5:43 PM on February 10, 2018 [5 favorites]

Since I've talked about it elsewhere: rodentistry. Apparently some pet rats are really really into whatever human mouths taste like.
posted by Grimgrin at 5:51 PM on February 10, 2018 [4 favorites]

Rats are awesome pets and at the same time they're awful pests. You can love and hate rats all at once.

I always explain it to people as you wouldn't want a pack of wild dogs living on your property either.

Rats are great pets, the main problem is they don't live very long.
We compare rats to little tiny dogs, whereas mice are like having little furry fish as pets.
Mice are cute, just not the same thing.
posted by bongo_x at 5:53 PM on February 10, 2018 [8 favorites]

Rats are awesome pets and at the same time they're awful pests. You can love and hate rats all at once.

So so true. I had a pet rat in middle school and loved that little guy. We had rats living in our backyard and I wanted them all to die.

Incidentally, I learned this morning what a "rat king" is (not the same thing as "king of the rats," it turns out) and HOLY FUCKING GOD I AM STILL RECOILING JESUS FUCK NO. Please stay away from Google Image search on that one.
posted by duffell at 6:43 PM on February 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

I got to the part in the "other things" video where a rat was way-to-close to its owner's mouth and... no... no-no-no-hella-no.... I appreciate all the love, but... I won't mistake a pet cat for the local bobcat by mistake... no....
posted by TrishaU at 7:13 PM on February 10, 2018

I grew up with a pet rat (Templeton, of course) and also a rabbit, cats, and a neurotic dog. The dog was the worst - dogs pick up the insanity of a dysfunctional family - but all the other animals were just fine. The rat was a sweetie. (My mom was a science teacher.)

Iguanas, on the other hand, are worthless.
posted by Peach at 7:57 PM on February 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've had two, Twitch and Alfie. My girlfriends at the times I have had rats have had rats also. Twitch was an enormous albino and Alfie was a hairless dumbo (the hairless is what gave me the idea for the name, you know, like Hitchcock). My girlfriend's female rat (at the time I had twitch) was a chocolate brown and white lump of fur and chub, who's favorite thing to do with guest with long hair was to sit on the back of the neck under the hair and peek around the neck, was a regular sit in on our D&D sessions (one of our regular guests and great players loved Rhonwyn (the rat - girlfriend's name not mine) and would happily sit there for hours with a fuzzy tumor on her neck.) Twitch, on the other hand, had everybody thinking I had a far more interesting love life than I actually did. He had the burrowing instinct something fierce, and, about a quarter of the time he would be shoulder riding, he would decide to use his tiny (sharp) rat fingernails to rappel down my bare back under my shirt so he could lay in the tucked in part of my shirt. Alfie's gig was to fuck with my cat while he was in his cage. He would wait for Mr. J to start one of his staring sprees, then he would clamber up the side of his cage, and use those same tiny rat fingers to paw over paw across the top of the cage. That is, when he wasn't sitting on his haunches right next to the section of the cage right next to Mr. J (my cat) and stare at him combatively.

We lost Twitch and Rhonwyn in a house fire (apparently asphyxiation), and Alfie passed to due to a lightning fast respiratory thing. Yes, if you haven't guessed, I love my cat, but I miss my rats.
posted by Samizdata at 9:31 PM on February 10, 2018 [2 favorites]

Can we discuss the rat dance at the end of the “other species” video? Because that was AMAZING.
posted by a hat out of hell at 6:14 AM on February 11, 2018 [4 favorites]

Rats are wonderful but they just do not live long enough. Imagine a dog that's only going to be around long enough for you to get really attached, and then when he/she passes, everyone thinks you're a weirdo for being sad because "it was just a rat".
posted by The otter lady at 8:11 AM on February 11, 2018 [11 favorites]

Can we discuss the rat dance at the end of the “other species” video? Because that was AMAZING.

My favorite thing about the Internet is how every once in a while, capriciously and without warning, it'll just blindside you an example of a person living their best life.
posted by Phobos the Space Potato at 9:10 AM on February 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

I live in a loft-dwelling, and I went out of town for 6 months.

When I returned I saw that some animal had found my cashmere sweater drawer and made a nest.

Checking periodically, I saw a healthy rat with a shiny coat. I just walked over there stood a few yards away and firmly and loudly said "Get Out! Get Out! Get Out!"

The rat did not run, but moved quickly to get out. Never came back.

My childhood pet rat was kept in a big fish tank with a wire-screen cover. One night my Father was bringing my sleepy brother to bed at 2AM, and the screen was dislodged and the rat missing. This upset my Mother, and the whole household was roused to search.

Never found the rat. But in the morning I see someone had put the screen back in place. The rat was in there pretending nothing happened. Turns out the rat could go in and out at will, and apparently was quite familiar with our side of the cage.

I looked closely in the cage and found a little stash of shiny things. This included a cuff-link taken from the top dresser drawer in my parents' bed room.

Rats are the best. But as a pet, you can have mixed feeling about their short lifespans. Two or three years, normally. It would be great to get to know one over a dog's lifetime.
posted by StickyCarpet at 11:35 AM on February 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

If you haven't seen it, I highly recommend Rat Film.
posted by vibrotronica at 11:57 AM on February 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

I've had two, Twitch and Alfie.

I had a rattie named Twitch too. Small world. Or twitchy rats are rather common. There was also two others, who shall remain nameless to spare the feelings of some people.
posted by Splunge at 2:08 PM on February 11, 2018 [1 favorite]

Came for the Hero Rats, was not disappointed. Sponsor one as a present!
posted by petebest at 5:44 PM on February 11, 2018

> Splunge:
"I had a rattie named Twitch too. Small world. Or twitchy rats are rather common. There was also two others, who shall remain nameless to spare the feelings of some people."

His proper full name (as per a RPG campaign with a hyperkinetic ratman thief. Played by meeeeeee? Naaaaaaaah.) was Twitch Baldtail The Younger.
posted by Samizdata at 1:38 AM on February 21, 2018

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