Will your new best friend be a rat? Take a look at these reasons why we think they should be...

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Pet rat owners will tell you their little furry pals – known as fancy rats (as opposed to the wild, brown variety) – are the most affectionate, intelligent, sociable, fun – and cute – of all the small rodents people keep as pets.

They make great pets for kids – but are equally entertaining and rewarding for adults. Rats love company – both their owner’s and their ratty chums, and will be eager to interact and play. Here are some more ratty reasons to invest in one…

1. Male rats, or bucks, are peaceful couch potatoes, amiable and affectionate, and love a belly rub – while the girls will be off exploring.

2. They’ve got soft, pink, twitchy noses and a starburst of delicate whiskers that are constantly scanning their environment – perfect for a close-up! Rats’ vision isn’t great, so they get around using their whiskers to help them.

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3. Rats can learn their names and simple commands, and are easy to train – especially the inquisitive girls, or does. Some can even play basketball.

4. They’ll gently hold your finger in between their paws and give it a little lick. Or even a gentle, affectionate nibble. The last thing your rat pals will want to do is nip you!

5. They love to nuzzle up to you and sit in the crook of your neck – who needs a parrot on your shoulder?

6. Your pets will squish up together in a heap to go to sleep.

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7. When you let them out of their cage, they’ll run towards you – not away.

8. They giggle when you tickle them…And you can teach them fun tricks!

9. Males especially are nice and chunky, so won’t get squashed behind the bookcase, or hide under the sofa when they’re out exercising.

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10. Rats are sweet and affectionate – but can also be hilariously hyperactive.

11. You can entertain yourself by scaring any squeamish friends with them, letting your rats climb onto your head, or scuttle up your back.

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iStockphoto