Forget cat videos, NBC’s reality TV show “America’s Got Talent” just gave us a rat video that’s sure to go viral. During Tuesday’s audition episode, Melissa Arleth introduced her seven-month-old pet rat named Hanta to judges Howie Mandel, Gabrielle Union, Julianne Hough and Simon Cowell. “I had some pet rats that I loved very much and I was working as a performer, so I started training my rats to do a couple of tricks,” she explained to them. “I trained them to do some more stuff, and they started taking over the show.” Watch the “AGT” performance video above.
As Melissa got ready to perform her act, Julianne shouted, “Ah, rats!” in anticipation. Simon responded, “I love rats,” which shouldn’t be too much of a surprise considering how he’s championed other animals acts in the past.
The performance consisted of Hanta jumping over a ledge, climbing up Melissa’s red dress, skittering down a narrow rope, crawling over her exposed legs, ascending a ladder and running through a wheel. At the end of the trick the audience jumped to their feet, with Julianne proclaiming, “That was the weirdest, coolest thing I’ve ever seen.”
As for the other judges, Howie called the act “incredibly unique” and “incredibly entertaining,” Gabrielle noted that “Hanta is a star” and Simon said that he loved it even though it was “bonkers.” Julianne later tried to get #ILikeWeird trending on Twitter.
In his “AGT” live blog, our recapper John Benutty had this to say about the performance: “Tonight’s show kicked off with an audition from Melissa Arleth and her companion rat. Together they traversed a gauntlet of tricks including ramps, ropes, ladders, wheels, hoops… and even a journey across Melissa’s legs while in upside down splits. The judges were surprised by how much fun they had with the act, as did the audience who gave them a standing ovation, and so it wasn’t hard to get a YES from all four judges.”