Rats are mouse-like rodents with long tails, pointed noses, and whiskers. Rats are often associated with filth and disease. So, if someone calls you a rat, it's not like being called a fox. It's an insult.
Many people keep rats as pets, and scientists often study rats because their psychological behavior is actually very similar to that of humans. Rats are intelligent and adaptable, but wild rats also carry disease and sometimes bite humans. These negative traits have led to the informal meaning of rat, "hateful person," "liar," or "double-crosser." You can also use rat as a verb to mean "betray or snitch on."