Video: A rat-obsessed woman makes her rodents go viral by dressing them up for online fans

28th Dec 18 | Real Life

Anisah Hanna, who names her rats after celebrities, buys her pets tiny accessories for the funny Instagram photos and videos.

PA Real Life - Anisah Hanna - Instagram rats

A proud pet owner has revealed how videos of her rat pack of eight rodents, with names like Kim Karatshian and Gerrat Butler, all dressed up and performing everywhere from the office to the dining table, went viral on Instagram.

Retail worker Anisah Hanna, 29, from Te Awamutu, New Zealand, loves filming her rats in unexpected scenarios, including at work, reading a book, eating dinner, and even in debauched settings – surrounded by vodka bottles and female dolls.

At one point when she was 13 after breeding the furry mammals, blamed for spreading bubonic plague, she had 17 of the critters.

And while she says caring for 17 puppies would be “a nightmare” she reckons keeping that many rats was no trouble at all.

She said: “Friends and family who I introduce to the rats tend to love them and eventually find them quite funny to play with. They may have a negative preconception about them, but most people who spend time with them end up changing their mind.”

Knowing how intelligent and responsive they are, after seeing pets like JiffPom, a Pomeranian dog, getting a staggering 8.2 million followers on Instagram, in 2015 Anisah decided to give her rats a go.

One of the rats reading a miniature playboy (PA Real Life/Collect)

She said: “I realised that rats could be popular online after I posted one of my old rats, Gerrat Butler. At the time, Gerrat Butler was my only rat – probably the first time I’d only had one rat at one time!

“I just filmed him messing around and posted him on Instagram, and one day I put tiny sunglasses on him for a fun photo.

“My friends and family thought it was hilarious, and it gave me an idea that maybe I should get more creative with my rat postings.”

Anisah with her rats (PA Real Life/Collect)

She continued: “After the legend that is Gerrat Butler died in November 2017, I got four new male rats – Doctor Poo, Count Furcula, Ratchie McCaw & Peego Mortensen – when they were five weeks old.

“A few months later in May, I then got four female rats – Peenelope Cruz, Kim Karatshian, Ellen DeGenerat and Portia de Ratti – but they don’t feature online as much as they’re way more active and hard to keep still!

“I thought the boys could be just as cute and popular as Gerrat Butler, so I started creating  little scenarios and costumes for them.”

Doctor Poo the rat knitting (PA Real Life/Collect)

But, while the videos, photos, and catchy names of the rats have attracted up to 40,000 views on Anisah’s Instagram page, ratzfurever, some online users, who disagree with her dressing them up, have accused her of drugging them, to get them to pose for photos.

Anisah said: “Because my rats are so chilled out and will let me dress them as anything, people assume I must drug them.

“They sleep on their back, which not many rats do, but I trained all of mine to do so – no drugs are involved.”

Anisah’s rats having some snacks (PA Real Life/Collect)

She explained: “When they were smaller, I would stroke them in the palm of my hand until they got sleepy and then, slowly roll them over to get them used to being on their backs.

“It’s the best position to dress them up in and take photos, and it sends them into a calm, deep sleep. That’s just the kind of rats they are. I love them and would never do anything that harmed them.”

To give her critics something to talk about, Anisah bought tiny alcohol bottles to surround the sleepy rats with, pretending they had passed out after a heavy night.

One of the rats with Spice Girls dolls (PA Real Life/Collect)

Other accessories in her set pieces include tiny laptops, cooking appliances, teddy bears, pizza and even versions of TIME magazine, which, designed for doll houses, she buys from cheap websites such as Etsy and Ali Express.

Her mum Judee Hanna, 60, also chips in by creating tiny Christmas presents, slippers and bandannas in her spare time, which can take her only five minutes to assemble.

Confident that her hilarious videos will encourage people to love rats, like she does, Anisah continued: “People assume rats are disease ridden, but they’re actually clean in my experience. They are always cleaning themselves and it’s very rare you would need to bathe them.”

Anisah’s rat enjoying his dinner (PA Real Life/Collect)

She added: “They eat all types of food that we humans do – sometimes I share my meals with them!

“They eat noodles, veggies, meat, porridge – practically anything. I always have food out for them constantly as they graze during the day while I’m at work.

“The boys have free range of my bedroom while the girls have a large cage at the other end of the house. I have to keep them separate, otherwise I would end up with hundreds.”

Anisah with her rats (PA Real Life/Collect)

While she has not turned many pet owners off dogs and cats in favour of rats, Anisah claims her friends and family – some of whom previously hated rats – now enjoy playing with them, thanks to her influence.

“More and more people are coming around to the idea of keeping them as pets and finding them cute, rather than branding them as vermin,” she explained.

Just like a dog owner, Anisah takes her pet rats for walks into town on her shoulder, where she has surprisingly received hardly any negative backlash.

Anisah’s rats with teddy bears (PA Real Life/Collect)

She laughed: “I let them sit on my shoulders while I go out for a walk. I obviously get strange looks, but people haven’t said anything rude to me yet!

“I have only had one bad experience, which was surprisingly with a vet.

“I walked in just to get Doctor Poo checked over, who was on my shoulder, and as one of the vets walked into the waiting room where I was sitting, she blurted out ‘ew, not a rat!’ – I was so shocked.”

All of Anisah’s male rats in bow ties (PA Real Life/Collect)

She added: “I suppose some people – even vets  – are simply not rat people.”

“But my rat pack really are the celebrities of the rodent world and they don’t know what they’re missing.”

© Press Association 2018