rat sitting on someone's shoulder
Rats are not only intelligent, they can be a great comfort. sipa/Pixabay

Chinese New Year is here! At least the celebrations preparing for it have started. In fact, according to the website ChineseNewYear.net, preparations for Chinese New Year began on January 17, 2020. January 24 is New Year’s Eve, and the 25th is New Year’s Day. Are we talking firecrackers? Yes, we are! But something more exciting is that the Chinese zodiac marks 2020 as the year of the rat.

The Chinese zodiac is thought to have originated during the Qin dynasty, which was the first dynasty of Imperial China. It occurred from 221 to 206 B.C. With Western astrology, the zodiac divides the stars along the apparent path of the Sun in a year (the ecliptic) as seen from the orbiting, rotating Earth. But while Western astrology corresponds to 12 constellations over the course of one year (Aries, Taurus, Gemini, etc.), the Chinese zodiac has a 12-year cycle based on Jupiter’s orbit. Animals represent each year to help in recall of this system. When you are born supposedly affects your personality and life. This is oversimplified, as elements, planets, seasons, and many other things come into play. The important take-away for now is that 2020 is the year of the rat!

The Year Of The Rat

So what is the year of the rat? As mentioned, it occurs every 12 years. Some previous years include 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936, 1924, 1912, and 1900.

The rat is actually the first sign of the Chinese zodiac. Additionally, the signs of the rat, dragon, and monkey are in the first trine. And, according to Wikipedia, that means these signs are “intense and powerful individuals capable of great good, who make great leaders but are rather unpredictable. The three are said to be intelligent, magnanimous, charismatic, charming, authoritative, confident, eloquent and artistic, but can be manipulative, jealous, selfish, aggressive, vindictive, and deceitful.”

ChineseNewYear.net says that, in general, people born in the year of the rat are savers and collectors. They never have financial worries and live organized lives. They are sensitive and avoid risk, but are usually successful if they do take a risk. The element associated with the year of birth can affect personality/life, as can being a man or woman.

Comparing Rats To The Year Of The Rat

So how does this compare to our adorable pet rats? After all, the rat of the Chinese zodiac was a wild rat. Well, our furry pet friends are descended from wild rats. They retain much of the wild rat’s characteristics, except they are domesticated and rarely carry disease. People born in the year of the rat are said to be likable, optimistic, energetic, and kind but sometimes blunt. Pet rats are certainly sociable and energetic. And recent studies have shown rats have empathy and are kind. Having a bad day? Hanging out with your rats likely provides some solace. Petting your rat or having him or her sit on your shoulder offers real comfort.

Think of some of the traits of pet rats: intelligent, clever, clean, and a collector. These all coincide with some year of the rat traits. This is no surprise, as the animals were chosen for their characteristics.

Time To Celebrate!

So how can we celebrate our wonderful pet rats during the year of the rat? Just do your usual and take the best care possible of your furry pal. As a member of your family, your furry friend already receives the best habitat, food, and health care. Of course, your rat won’t object to a small party in his or her honor, or being told how wonderful and special they are to you. And if you brag a bit about how wonderful rats are as pets, who could blame you? It’s the year of the rat! If you do plan a party, January 27 might be a good day, because that’s the day of the rat when, according to the Chinese zodiac, rats marry. Another good day might be April 4, which has been declared World Rat Day by members of the ratlist mailing list on the internet.

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