When Abby Chronister started college six years ago, she found herself struggling with anxiety and depression. After class, she often retreated to her bed. That’s when she adopted her first two rats, Luci and Lena.
“Those little critters are what made me get out of bed, knowing I had those little lives to care for,” the 25-year-old graphic designer from Mission, Kan., said. “They bond with you like a dog does. You might not have the energy to walk a dog, but you can manage to fill a water bottle.”
Chronister kept her rats in a cage tucked in the corner of her dorm room. They were quiet. They were clean. And her roommate loved them.
Rats might not be everyone’s idea of a perfect pet or a soothing companion for anxious times, but they have a following, albeit small.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s American Housing Survey, about half of American households have pets, primarily dogs or cats.