By Renee C. Rebman
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33 5 The Positive Side of Rats While the majority of people dislike and fear rats, there are many who keep them as pets. Pet rats are known as fancy rats. They have been specifically bred as pets for more than 150 years. Rats first began to be taken in as pets in the 1840s. Queen Victoria of England had her own royal rat catcher named Jack Black, who kept the rat population under control in the palace. He became very interested in the rats. When he saw rats with unusual coloring, he kept them and began to breed them.
Because rats reproduce so quickly, scientists can study their offspring as well. This helps when scientists are trying to determine how certain diseases Did You Know . . or conditions are handed down through generaRats often accompanied astronauts on the space tions in a human family. shuttle. Rats are being Most lab rats are albino, but other types are studied to help scientists also used. Rats suffer from many of the same understand the effects of ailments and diseases as humans such as weightlessness on the body.
The Secret Life of Rats: Rise of the Rodents. Mankato, MN: Coughlin Publishing, 2009. Markle, Sandra. Outside and Inside Rats and Mice. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2009. Marrin, Albert. Oh, Rats! New York: Dutton Children’s Books, 2006. Savage, Stephen. Rat (Animal Neighbors). New York: PowerKids Press, 2009. Whitehouse, Patricia. ). New York: Heinemann, 2009. htm 45 Index Page numbers for illustrations are in boldface. albino rats, 25, 35, 38, 39 climbing, 10, 11, 16 food, 6, 7, 24–27 commensalism, 6 fur, 31, 32, 36 communicating, 24, Bast (goddess), 6 genetic research, 39 26, 29 gnawing, 15 biting, 9, 14, 15 Black, Jack, 35–36 Black Death.
Rats by Renee C. Rebman