If you love your rat, they will too.
We humans have been rat-owners for a good 5 years now and consequently have had ample opportunity to hear from and about the number of people who do not like rats. We know how disgusting their tails are, how big they are in New York, how vile and filthy they are, and how very tasty they are to snakes. We know that their lives aren't valued, and that they are such wicked creatures that they deserve a swift whack on the head before feeding time. We know that they just aren't as cute as mice. We know that they just don't beat hamsters and guinea pigs as pets. And most importantly, we know that these people are all wrong.
First, of all, I've seen one guinea pig that was remotely a good pet in the sense of being responsive to human interaction. Those are not clever animals in the least bit. I have yet to meet a witty, clever, or even rational hamster or gerbil. Mice are OK, but they're not as clever as rats, and certainly not as blatantly foolish. Furthermore mice really do stink. They produce super-concentrated whiz that can make the least sensitive noses twitch and they are manic destroyers of clothing.
As for snake people, I have no problem with them. I've met the rats that are truly bred as snake food and they are not nice - plus, there's always the captive animal alternative (frozen, pre-killed rodents). Unfortunately most of the rats I've seen at general pet stores, although scared, have usually been handled a couple of times in their short existences and are nothing at all like these strictly-bred-for-snakes rats who at least have a fighting chance to do some damage to the snake in return. Then of course there are the wild sewer rats. I do not question their evil-ness which is nothing more than an exhibition of their desire to live. But again, I have no problem with snake people. After all, it's natural for a snake to eat a vermin of proportional size. What I do have a problem with is the inability of some snake people to let nature take its course and let the rat at least try to live. I absolutely despise those snake people who klonk the rats over the head first as they hold them by their tail. YUCK! I digress.
We have gotten many rat-hating people to like our rats, and often we have gotten these same people to touch, feed, and hold these very same rats. Some tricks? Well, first of all, don't force the person to hold or look at the rat up close. Talk about them a lot. Tell all those stories about the weird things they do. After awhile you'll notice that your rats almost seem human. If that rat-hating individual wants to meet the rats, they'll ask. When they do, introduce them to your sweetest, quietest, and preferably youngest rat. Once they meet the babies, you'll never hear them talk about their ugly tails and evil seething glares ever again. You'll change that conversation to how adorable those mice are. The whole calling-rats-mice thing is a bit offensive to the rats, but I think that's just people's way of rationalizing that they are OK.
Another effective way is to ask a friend or family member to "watch over" a very sick rat. We've had to do this a couple of times out of necessity and we've returned home to see this friend or family member with their nose in the cage offering the little critter the yummiest items available in the human's fridge. Soon enough these rat-hating individuals are telling their friends about the kooks with all the rats and how amusing the whole bunch of them are. This, I think, is a good thing.
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Disclaimer: There are many non-sarcastic accounts and tips on the web regarding rat care. This is not
one of them. These are merely accounts of our experiences with rats, our perceptions of these experiences, where we've failed
and where we've succeeded. These accounts are here for two purposes: