The warning has come from Johan Lundin, spokesman for Råtthjälpen, an organisation committed to ‘raising the status of the tame rat’.
While Ratatouille (known in Sweden as Råttatouille’) may stimulate a certain fondness for the much-maligned rodent, the film’s effect could cause problems if children leave the cinema wanting a rat of their own. An adult with plenty of time and knowledge must be prepared to take responsibility for the pet, rather than leaving it up to the children in the family, Lundin says.
Råtthjälpen has already placed around 70 tame rats with families this year. The organisation has some 40 activists around Sweden.
As well as the publicity work, Johan Lundin is at the sharp end of rat care: he runs an emergency rat shelter from his home in Bonderup, outside Dalby in Skåne.
Most of the people who turn up at his door admit that they regret their choice of pet. But the organisation’s resources are limited and Lundin says that he can’t help everyone who turns to him.
Now, with the buzz created by Ratatouille, he fears that Råtthjälpen will be stretched further.
“Unlike, for example, hamsters, a rat demands a lot of time. Rats are so intelligent. They don’t feel well if they are just sitting in their cages the whole time,” said Lundin.
Many people who buy rats haven’t realised that they are pack animals who simply don’t like to be alone. Lundin recommends buying at least two – of the same sex, if you want to keep just two.
Johan Lundin is currently looking for homes for three rats.
Råttatouille is currently showing in Swedish cinemas.