Although very curious animals, rats are also shy, and prefer to run away than confront a potential threat. Rats are extremely clean animals, spending several hours every day grooming themselves and their group members. They are less likely than cats or dogs to catch and transmit parasites and viruses. The rat is the first of the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac. People born in this year are thought to possess characteristics which are associated with rats, namely: creativity, intelligence, honesty, ambition and generosity.
The first rat to become an astronaut traveled into space from France in 1961! Ancient Romans considered rats to be a sign of good luck. Rats have scent glands on the bottom of their feet. These scent glands mark territories and help them retrace their footsteps.
Rubbing a rat’s belly like you would a dog’s isn’t recommended until the rat trusts you and is very comfortable with you. And if you stroke your rat’s face, make sure to rub in the direction the whiskers grow (stroke back toward the ears) – pulling them forward is very uncomfortable for the rat. Rats like having the top of their head stroked and gently scratched. Rats usually enjoy having their ears rubbed.