As a pocket pet, Fancy Rats offer similar advantages to the Fancy Mice. They are naturally clean and enjoy grooming themselves, they are curious and social, and they are inexpensive to buy, feed, and house. As a bonus, the Fancy Rat is a little bigger and a little better suited to being the pet of small children, who might squeeze or frighten the more delicate mouse.

We've all heard about the lab rats that can run mazes or perform other tricks for cheese, and the Fancy Rats are often highly regarded as one of the most intelligent pets you can buy. The domesticated strains were originally developed from a tough wild species, the Brown or Norway Rat, Rattus norvegicus, which were collected for use as bait. Some of the rat catchers noticed that a few rats had more beautiful colors than the rest, and they began to breed them as pets to the elite.

In some places, rats are considered an invasive species and can't be kept without a permit for laboratory or educational use. Never collect a wild rat with the intention of making it a pet, since they can be carriers for dangerous diseases.