When most people think of the word "pet", a cat or dog may inevitably come to mind. Still, there are many different types of animals which can be kept as pets, including birds, snakes, fish, rabbits, etc. While pets like snakes and lizard perhaps are not as cuddly or cute as other pets, they can still be fun and and interesting to have.
The word "rat" typically conjures up a beady-eyed rodent that is typically used in the same vein as the words "dirty" or "disgusting". Some people also think of the plague (though it is fleas, and not necessarily rats themselves who are to blame for that). Despite their less than ideal reputation, however, rats are actually relatively clean animals that groom themselves several times a day, and can form lifelong bonds with their owners. There are several reasons domesticated rats actually make great pets.
Aside from being cleaner than one might think, there are several species of rats which have been bred to be kept as pets. They are also rather intelligent, as can be seen by their ability to run though complicated mazes, and even show empathy for each other. In one study, two rats were placed in a cage. One was held in a closed restrainer, while the other was free in the cage. Amazingly, the free rats would often learn to open the restrainer door by themselves and free their companion. They were not trained to do this, and in another study, where an additional restrainer was added to the same cage and filled with chocolate chips, the rats were more likely to free their companion first before opening the restrainer with the food.
Rats can also recognize their owners by sight and the sound of their voice. They are social animals, some of whom like being around humans. For the average college student, they are also typically cheaper and easier to care for than a cat or dog. Unless you own some type of mutant rat, it is also possible to leave the apartment for class and not have to worry about what kind of destruction you'll see when you return.
Overall, rats make for a great lower-maintenance pet. Many rat owners can tell you that while it may take time to form a bond with your furry friend, it's very much worth it in the end.