Rat lovers show off their 'perfect' pets

  • A pet rat peeks out from a box at the home of Karen Robbins, president of the Riverside-based American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association, at her home in Los Angeles. To a small and active group of fans, the rat is a pocket pet, a charming companion that acts like a human, is loyal as a dog and cleaner than a cat. DAMIAN DOVARGANES / AP

  • Coconut Creek vet Vanessa Pisano with two of her pals, Zephyr and Loki. TOM ERVIN/FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

  • Vanessa Pisano's pet rats -- Loki, Zephyer, and Esmerelda -- outside their cage. TOM ERVIN/FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

  • Alexander Pisano, 8, at the piano holding Loki and Noonie while Zephyr runs along the keys. TOM ERVIN/FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

  • Coconut Creek vet Vanessa Pisano shows off her pet rats Zephyr, Loki and Noonie. TOM ERVIN/FOR THE MIAMI HERALD

  • Karen Robbins, president of the Riverside-based American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association, holds a mouse at her Los Angeles home. DAMIAN DOVARGANES / AP

  • Baby rats sleep in a nest in Los Angeles. To a small and active group of fans, the rat is a pocket pet, a charming companion that acts like a human, is loyal as a dog and cleaner than a cat. DAMIAN DOVARGANES / AP

  • Karen Robbins, president of the Riverside-based American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association, cares for her rats and mice at her Los Angeles home. DAMIAN DOVARGANES / AP

  • Karen Robbins, president of the Riverside-based American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association, holds a pet rat at her home in Los Angeles. DAMIAN DOVARGANES / AP