Michigan Marylou Morin has no use for mice, but she thinks their bigger cousins make great pets. That's right, domesticated rats. And her dog likes them, too.
Morin, known as the "rat lady," has babied rats for about eight years, ever since her daughter brought home a lab rat named "Wicket" from Western Michigan University. The one-pound, white male rat with pink eyes would fall asleep in her lap while she watched television.
She and her husband, Don, once had as many as 13 rats in their home. It's not uncommon for Morin to have a rat or two on her shoulder. The preschool teacher lets them crawl all over her.
The little animals - her current critters are "Cubby," "Sweet Pea" and "Little Bit" - relieve the stress of the daily rat race.
"They help me relax a whole bunch. They're gentle creatures, and they're just very loving," she told The Bay City Times.
Unlike wild rats, the domesticated rodents don't pose health risks, Morin said. They groom themselves frequently and even groom each other.
Her 26-pound miniature schnauzer, BobbiAnne, herds the three 8-ounce rats like a border collie rounds up sheep.
"She thinks they're her babies," Morin said. "She lets them chew on her beard, and sometimes they'll lie on her back."