When I was younger I had a pet rat named Ned. He was given to me by my brother, much to my mother’s chagrin. He was a sweet little albino rat. I used to put him in the hood of my sweatshirt and go for walks. He was very sweet.

My mother was not very fond of him. That could be because every now and then he would escape from his cage at night and make his way into the kitchen. My mother was always the first one up so invariably he would run across the kitchen or peek out from behind the fridge and scare the begeezes out of her.

Secretly this made me love him even more.

I have to admit that before this beautiful squeaky little gift, I was not fond of rats. However, after a day or two of some quality time with Ned, I fell in love. Watching him eat was probably the cutest thing I’ve ever seen. He would go anywhere with me. All I had to do was put him in my pocket or hood of my sweatshirt.

I know that rats are used for experiments and they are often taught to navigate mazes. They are actually very smart animals, especially given the tiny size of their brains. If you want proof of just how smart rats are and what great pets they make, then take a peek at this video.

Joy Larson is a mother of four boys, graduate of the University of Montana, animal lover and writer.