My rats. Yes, rats. I've loved animals my entire life, and rats are no exception. In fact, if you were to ask me whether I'd rather handle a rat or a hamster, I'd hands down pick the rat, as they rarely bite, and I've never owned a hamster that didn't. I've had these two for six months now, and although they were a bit frightened at first, they're very friendly. As they're females, they don't tend to enjoy sitting still and cuddling, they like to explore. But these two love to groom people. Much like dogs, they show affection by licking.
They can be noisy during the night due to them being nocturnal, but I generally take them out of their cage (which do not come cheap, mine set me back £85!) around 9PM, so they settle down for when I'm trying to get to sleep. Obviously they don't require the amount of care that a dog or cat does, but this is as long as you house two or more together, otherwise a lone rat would require hours of attention a day. Their upkeep can be pricey at times, though. Like I said, my cage was not cheap, and they require food, toys, treats and litter (a £5.99 bag gets me two full clean-outs).
They really do make lovely little pets though!