rat portrait
Explore all options when choosing a name for your rat or rats. Brandi Saxton of It’s A Rat’s World

Coming up with a name for your rat can be more of a challenge than you expect. Literally millions of rat name options are out there, and many different concepts to choose from. Where do you even begin to narrow it down? I think that the final name and why it was chosen often gives people a small glimpse into your personality.

Are you the type of person who believes it’s vital to wait until you meet the rat in question to choose a name, or do you pick out a name before choosing the rat? Do you base names off of their personality or their coloring? Do you wait to see if the rat just exudes some specific moniker? Or do you simply find it easier to keep the name that the rat came with, if they belonged to someone prior?

My Rat-Naming Philosophy

I’m kind of a mixture of all of these things, but I tend to have names ready once I’ve decided to adopt someone new. Many times, however, I end up changing course after I finally meet my new adoptees in person. Whether you prefer waiting or choosing a name ahead of time, you have many avenues to explore for inspiration.

Be Inspired By The World Around You

rat on back being petted
Sometimes, a name pops in your head when you see a rat. Delphiniums Blue was named after a line in a poem. Brandi Saxton of It’s A Rat’s World

If you love all things pop culture, try borrowing an idea from a favorite fictional character, celebrity, band, singer, or social media star. If you enjoy traveling or are into different languages, perhaps something foreign might intrigue you. You might be a bookworm who enjoys something more literary. Maybe a beloved author, character, or even a phrase from one of your favorite books charms you.

My second “heart rat” was named Delphiniums Blue, after the refrain in the poem, The Dormouse and the Doctor by A.A. Milne. The minute I saw him and his gorgeous Russian blue markings, I immediately heard these lines run through my head:

“There once was a Dormouse who lived in a bed
Of delphiniums (blue) and geraniums (red).”

Use Your Rat As Your Muse

rat held in hand
Pi’s unique features inspired her name. Brandi Saxton of It’s A Rat’s World

Over the years I noticed that names based off of the rat’s coloring or personality lead to commonly used choices, such as Oreo, Mocha, Nibbles, or Squeakers. All perfectly fine names. But if you wish something a bit more distinctive, then I highly suggest getting out a thesaurus (or visiting www.thesaurus.com) to search for more unique synonyms. This is essentially how I came up with the name Cinder for my female rat. Her facial markings looked as though she just came out from sniffing around a chimney and smudged her cute face with ash.

If your rat has a standout feature, one unlike their cagemates, give him or her a name that specifically honors it. This is exactly what I did with my rat Pi, who was born with all four limbs, but only two regular feet and one adorably misshapen one. My husband took one look at her and exclaimed, “She has 3.14 legs! She is Pi!” She did look a bit as though she had a peg-leg, too, making her a Pi-Rat-e!

Explore Other Languages

three rats posed on fabric
Ratones sounds so much more exciting than just saying “rats.” Brandi Saxton of It’s A Rat’s World

If nothing comes to you in your native tongue, search outside your own language. Jolie et Petit, meaning “pretty and little” in French, is quite fitting for a tiny doe. If you want to be unique, yet matter of fact, consider Nezumi, which means “rat” in Japanese. While the word is very much on the nose, it sounds so much more exotic in Japanese, don’t you think?

Try Googling the word “rat” in other languages and see what you find! I haven’t given my rats any foreign names like this yet, but I do call my entire group my ratones, which means “rats” or “mice” in Spanish.

Use Your Origin Story To Find Perfect Rat Names

two rats standing
Goose and Maverick rode in an airplane! Brandi Saxton of It’s A Rat’s World

Perhaps the story of how you acquired your rats could be an inspiration. Take my boys, Goose and Maverick, for example. They were rescued from a hoarder in another state, and a volunteer pilot with the non-profit group Pilots N Paws flew them from a neighboring state so that I could adopt them. Talk about a memorable experience! I’ve never flown on a private plane myself, yet these rats did. Of course they needed to be named after some “famous,” Top Gun pilots!

Consider Themes!

rat on pink fabric
Leeloo is paired with Korben, with names honoring the movie The Fifth Element. Brandi Saxton of It’s A Rat’s World

If you’re like me, and prefer not to go with commonly used human names for your rats, then consider using the last names of your favorite actors or fictional characters. With so many good movies, shows, musicals, and books to borrow from, I have a never-ending supply of awesome ideas. Drawing from pop culture is also particularly helpful whenever I adopt a group of rats at the same time. In the case of my rat Tulip and her three sons, Custer, Preacher, and Cassidy, I chose to name them all after the TV show Preacher. I even used the title of the show as one of their names, because it just sounded so cool for a rat. And, well, he is a pretty cool rat!

Other themed names I’ve used that you may recognize include Potter and Granger (see; last names); Crowley, Castiel, and Winchester; Leeloo and Korben; and Paige, Phoebe, and Piper. I once did an ode to Quentin Tarantino by picking three of his movies and choosing one name from each, resulting in Jules (Pulp Fiction), Alabama (True Romance), and Dakota (Grindhouse). I was also once inspired by different Eliza Dushku television characters, which resulted in two of my girls being named Tru (Tru Calling) and Echo (The Dollhouse).

Using names from pop culture can land you in familiar territory, however; especially if taken from current, popular entertainment, or from famous fictional rat characters. Remy from Ratatouille is a perfect example of this. It’s an adorable name, and I can see the allure of using it. Just be aware that hundreds of people likely named their rat Remy.

Make Rat Names Personal

four rats posed
The four “London brothers” were named to honor places around London. Brandi Saxton of It’s A Rat’s World

If you want to avoid running into overly used names, or have maxed out your ideas from your favorite entertainment, consider elements from places you visited, or would like to go. After a fun birthday trip with friends to San Diego many years ago, I adopted three boys within a week of returning home. Still fresh from my vacation, three words pertaining to my trip popped into my head: Omni (the Hotel), Brockton (Brockton Villa, a favorite restaurant), and Coronado (the island). It’s been years since those brothers have passed on. But not only do I continue to carry their memory with me, but the memories from my trip became extra special, too.

In fact, I was inspired to do this again when I finally made it to London for the first time. Going to Europe was such a big deal for me, that I never wanted to forget it. Today, I have rat brothers named Regent (Regent’s Park), Paddington (the train station and marmalade-loving bear), Camden (the borough we stayed in), and Gatwick (the airport). I used aspects of their personalities that matched the memories of my trip to decide who got each name.

You could also choose a name derived from someone you know. I’ve decided that the next time I adopt a singleton to add to my group, I’m going with Moffett. This honors my amazing vet of over 15 years. She knows how seriously I take naming my rats, so I feel pretty confident that she will be honored by this gesture.

Ultimately, no matter where/how you come up with a name, pick something that you truly love! These names become a part of each rat, and often morph into even more special nicknames that tend to take on a life of their own! Happy naming!

One thought on “The Name Game: Choosing Rat Names

  1. I, too, take rat naming quite seriously. Brandi, You hit every aspect with this article. Thank you for sharing.

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