Rat sales climb after 'Ratatouille' U.K. debut


LONDON -- It has four legs and a tail like a dog or a cat, so why shouldn't man's best friend be a ... rat?

Demand for rats as pets has surged thanks to the latest Disney/Pixar animated film, "Ratatouille," which features the adventures of a gourmet rat named Remy demonstrating his culinary prowess in the top kitchens of Paris.

Britain's Pets at Home domestic pet chain said rat sales have surged 50% since the film opened in Britain on Oct. 12.

"It's early doors yet, but it seems 'Ratatouille' has done wonders for the image of rats," company spokesman Steve Fairburn said on www.ukpets.co.uk.

"Contrary to popular opinion, rats are actually one of the cleanest and least smelly pets you can own. They are incredibly responsive to learning and can be taught to do amazing tricks, much in the way that dogs and cats can," he added.

Indeed, the British experience appears to have been echoed wherever the film has been screened.

The U.S. reported a surge in demand for pet rats during the summer, and pet groups in Germany and Sweden have also said rat sales have surged thanks to the film.

But they also warn that, as with demand for pet puppies and kittens that can fade once the cute factor diminishes with age, a rat is for life not just the holidays.