It’s somewhat funny that people fear or loathe rats, yet they are an important part of popular culture and superstitions. Here are just a few of the pop culture references to rats:
• In the Chinese zodiac, rats are the first sign. They are highly regarded as intelligent creatures and bringers of good luck (especially the albino/white ones).
• Popular films featuring rats: Ratatouille, An American Tail, The Secret of NIMH, Stuart Little, The Rescuers,
• People often say “Rats!” to take the place of a more vulgar or offensive expletive.
• The popular manga/anime Fruits Basket features a lead character, the “prince” of the story, turning into a rat when he is hugged by girls as a result of a curse. The background story featured in the series says the ox should have been the first animal in the Chinese zodiac and the cat was Buddha’s favorite, but the smart rat gave the cat the wrong date for Buddha’s party then rode on the ox to get to the venue, leaping off its back to arrive there first.
• In India, there’s a temple, Karni Mata, in Deshnoke, which is dedicated to the worship of rats. They are considered sacred there and are hand-fed by visitors. The white ones are considered auspicious. Rat statues are also always found in temples of Ganesh, the elephant god.