Dear Reggie Rat: My college-aged nephew just bought a pet rat, and I am appalled. I think of rats as vermin that require a trap, not pets that sit on laps. Is it safe and sane for my nephew to keep a pet rat?

Reggie Responds: We domestic rats are wonderful pets. We’re smart, sturdy, social animals that get along well with each other and with humans.

You needn’t worry about your nephew. Well socialized pet rats are far less likely to bite than other pocket pets or wild rats that are hand-raised.

Most pet rats enjoy everyone but prefer one particular person in their lives. Research shows that rats will even work to be petted by someone special.

We rats like to doze in pockets or on shoulders. We’re easy to train, and we’ll do tricks if trained with food treats.

Pet rats are ideal for college students because we don’t cost much to keep. A rat needs only a cage with nesting box, toys, tunnel, exercise wheel and water bottle. We eat rat pellets or blocks plus fresh vegetables and fruit.

I predict that you’ll be enchanted once you’ve met your nephew’s pet rat.