Rats actually make excellent pets. They are much more intelligent than mice (although that's not saying much), and this makes them more fun to play with and less fish-like. The hooded rat is the most popular, as it is colorul, cute, and docile. Unlike mice, pet rats are clever enough to know that food is always easily available in its cage, so it will return there eventually even if it escapes, provided it can't find much else to eat.

All rats are voracious and will eat pretty much anything. Feeding them only rodent pellets is a good idea, although table scraps are a good treat. Feeding a pet rat red meat is not a good idea, as they sometimes start biting fingers if they get used to chewing on meat. They don't seem to like things that are cold. They do not know what to do with grapes and other such "sealed" fruits unles you break the peel first.

Hooded rats are very clean, and aside from allergic reactions to their claws and fur they pose few health risks if you keep them carefully. They are much more interesting to watch, and especially to play with, than gerbils, hamsters, rabbits, or mice. In particular, they will search relentlessly for hidden objects, such as food or feathers. Playing hide and seek with a rat is usually an excercise in frustration, as they are extremely difficult to find in a big room.

In colloquial English, to "rat" something or someone out is to follow clues relentlessly and find the problem or person. This is just an obvious parallel between what rats actually do (relentlessly follow clues until they find your stash) and what humans would like to be able to do.