Ex-squeak me?

Rodent Boyfriends, Gen Z, And The Impending Hot Rat Boy Summer

Talk of Hot Rat Boys is sweeping social media and we’re breaking down everything you need to know.

Wonderful examples of the hot rat boyfriend trend.

Golden Retriever boyfriends are out, Rodent Boyfriends are in. This is not a pet shop slogan, but the latest in trending terminology courtesy of Gen Z. While Golden Retriever Boyfriend refers to men with Golden Retriever-inspired character traits (trusting, loyal, uncomplicated), Rodent Boyfriend describes an aesthetic. We are embarking on a Hot Rat Boy Summer, because the dreamy male celebrities who embody this aesthetic are having a moment.

So what the hell is the rodent boyfriend aesthetic?

First and foremost, it’s an unconventional attractiveness. Hot Rat Boy Summer rejects the rippling musculature of the gym/tan/laundry generation and stereotypically masculine features of romance novel cover stars.

The rise of the Rodent Boyfriend reflects a nostalgia for what regular, real people look like. A hot rat boy is on the lanky side, with angular features, lacking the perfect facial symmetry pushed by airbrush filters, cosmetic dentistry, and plastic surgery.

These rodent men share an ethereal, shifty-eyed magnetism. A not entirely un-smarmy je ne sais quoi sure to make our fathers uncomfortable. Their fashion choices challenge traditional masculinity and exude a quiet confidence.

Their default RBF (resting brooding face) and laissez-faire squint beckon to the teenage girl within. We could understand them. We could fix them. We could feed them bits of cheese and train th— wait, sorry, wrong rodents.

Who exactly are these hot rat boys?

You won’t find them scampering in your attic or dragging a slice of pizza down subway stairs. You will find them starring alongside Zendaya in Challengers. Many credit an observation about Josh O’Connor and Matt Faist with inspiring the rodent boyfriend phrase.


The increasing popularity of Timothée Chalamet, Jeremy Allen White, or trailblazing unconventional hottie Adam Driver have undoubtedly set the stage for this “rat-aissance” of the female gaze, well before we had a name for it.

Timothée Chalamet, Jeremy Allen White, Adam Driver / Getty

Other frequent flier mentions in the hot rat boy discourse include Saltburn star Barry Keoghan, 1975 front man (and reported inspiration for many songs on Taylor Swift’s Tortured Poet’s Department album) Matty Healy, and Succession star Kieran Culkin.

The conversation has even expanded the rodent boyfriend umbrella beyond rats. Don’t want a rat boyfriend? What about a capybara boyfriend? Sugar daddies are out, sugar gliders are in!

But why? Why is this happening?

The term is catchy, OK! It commands attention because the new use conflicts with historical rodent comparisons.

When I got braces in 1997 and my friend’s older brother said I looked less like a rat, it was understood that looking like a rat (thanks to formerly protruding front teeth) was not a good thing. But, like the meaning of “literally,” language is literally always evolving.

Each generation makes space for itself in the world with culture and language that differentiates it from prior generations. Out with the old, in with the “what the hell are they talking about?”

Enter “brainrot speak” (or should I say, “brainrot squeak”).

“Brainrot” is how the “kids these days” are referring to immersion in internet culture, particularly on TikTok and popular social media sites. It’s agreed upon that “brainrot” is bad, and yet it’s also a point of pride, to be fluent in the trending topics and ensuing memes that compose a digital foundation of shared experience. To speak the language of “brainrot” is to be part of an inside joke in a disjointed community of people rolling their eyes at the zeitgeist.

OK, what do I do with this information?

The best way to stop your tweens and teens from adopting any slang is to use it yourself. Perhaps you’re married to a hot rat husband and it’s time to let him know within earshot of the kids. Note the next on-screen appearance of a rodent boyfriend during family movie night. Our own un-coolness is an effective rat repellant.

If your kids couldn’t care less about having a hot rat boy summer, you may resume your life as it was. Or, you could google shirtless Jeremy Allen White, as long as you won’t be too rattled.