If you walk through the doors of the Midlands Humane Society today, you will find rats and hamsters near the front desk who are looking for their next family.

In fact, three rat brothers have happily made our staff and volunteers their “personal employees” for the last several weeks. Before you share your initial reaction of, “Ewww!”, “Yuck!” and “Why would anyone want a rat in their house?”, let’s give them a chance to squeak into your hearts.

Believe it or not, rats are popular family pets: They are very intelligent, inquisitive, interactive and social. If well socialized from a young age and treated gently, they are easy to handle, affectionate and rarely bite unless provoked. As with any pet, rats should never be left unsupervised with small children. Rats tend to be nocturnal but are active for periods during the day, so it is still possible to play with them while you are awake. They do not shed much and seem to cause few allergic reactions in people. They are hardy animals, making them a bit easier to handle than some small critters.

Despite images conjured up from horror movies and thoughts of rats living in New York City sewers — pet rats are very clean and they are reasonably easy to care for. Luckily, the rats that we currently have were socialized often and while they were still impressionable. Keep in mind, rats love to chew and are great escape artists.

Rats aren’t the only option for adorably small pets. There are so many small animals that you can own as a potential pet. Consider mice, gerbils, guinea pigs, and who can say no to the irresistible fluffiness of a hamster. Just peer into a colorful cage containing a hamster and it’s easy to understand their appeal. They come in many colors and fur variations, have large eyes and adorable cheeks, which they can stuff full of treats. One interesting appeal of a hamster is they possess a small tail. Some people have an aversion to long rodent tails, so a hamster might be perfect.

What are some other reasons people might be drawn to a “pocket pet?? For starters, they are affordable to buy and care for. Since they are so small, they can fit into any house, apartment, dorm room, wherever you want to display their cage. It can be on a desk, dresser, or maybe in your office. And unlike other larger pets such as cats or dogs, hamsters are comparatively quiet and will never annoy your neighbors.

With today’s increasingly hectic lifestyle, these animals fit extremely well into most people’s schedules. Whereas other pets might be stuck being lonely at home while you are at work or school, many small critters help you avoid this problem because they are nocturnal, so you don’t need to feel guilty about leaving them behind as you go about your day.

Lucky you, the timing might be perfect as you return home from work, the weight room, the bar and grill; as you are probably going to catch them as they wake up, ready to socialize and entertain.

Another perk to having a small critter; you won’t need to take your pet to the groomer, as these animals groom themselves. You also won’t ever have to take them out for walks, so cold winters and hot summers won’t be a problem. It is key to provide your small critters with interactive toys, proper items to chew on, quality bedding and nutritious food — you can enjoy many years with your new tiny pet.

Oh, and don’t forget to make sure to regularly clean your pet’s cage, as bedding can become dirty quickly and stink. The Midlands Humane society is open today from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Monday to Friday noon to 6 p.m.

While you’re here, don’t forget to check out the larger pets too. We are filled to the brim with cats, kittens and dogs. Today will be the last day for our current special of half-price adoptions (approved applications only).

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