This article is from the Winter 2002 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Helen Pembrook
Peggy Reyes, Clinton Twp., MI
QI am writing to get some information from people who have personally owned a pet rat. I purchased one for my 10-year-old daughter, Amanda. Before I bought the rat I read books and spoke to some pet shops, and I watched an episode on “The Pet Connection” where they talked about what a great pet they are to have. My mother even worked in the medical field where they used them to help in the process of healing children with emotional problems.
My daughter has been handling our rat everyday, morning and night. The books say that the more you hold your rat, the tamer they will be. This morning Amanda was holding her while she was getting ready for school, when Abby, the rat, bit Amanda’s earlobe and would not let go. She broke the skin on Amanda’s earlobe and frightened me. I had to pull her off. I am now frightened of her and was thinking about getting rid of her. I called the pediatrician and the veterinarian, both said just watch the bite mark for infection. I would like to know why Abby would do this—she has been a sweet little lovable pet. When I asked my daughter what she was doing at the time, she said she was reaching to put her pants on. This made me think that maybe Abby was losing her balance and grabbed onto her earlobe and when Amanda started to scream, Abby became even more frightened and then would not let go. It would break my heart to get rid of her and especially break my daughter’s. I just do not want any animal that may harm my children. Could you or anyone in your association help explain this or give me some insight on this? My daughter is not frightened of her and has still been holding her, just not letting her on her shoulder. We have an appointment with a local vet who specializes in rodents, but any information that you can supply me would be greatly appreciated.
AI have heard of this before though not had the experience myself. As near as I can figure the rat is either playing, or does not associate the ear as being attached to its human companion. The reason for this may be that the strong (at least to a rat) smell of the earwax masks the human smell. The rat may even be trying to get this yucky smelling thing away from its human. As long as the rat is sweet otherwise I would still keep it, just not let it on the shoulder or near the ear.
Debbie Beck, North Stonington, CT
QI read the newsletter, Rat & Mouse Tales, from cover to cover and enjoy all the articles very much. I also look over the ads for “Breeders’ Directory for Rats.” My question is this: Do any of these breeders ship or mail their rats through the mail? If they do, do you know how it is done?
Living out here on the East Coast, especially in New England, I don’t get the chance to go to any of your shows to buy any rats. Here in Connecticut and in New England we don’t have anywhere near the variety of rats you do out there in California. We desperately need new varieties out here. I see the ads for all these different colors and varieties and coat types that we don’t have here and most people have never heard of, and just wonder if there is a way to get some of those wonderful California rats here in Connecticut.
AThe U.S. Postal Service and UPS do not ship rodents and FedEx does not ship animals at all, so the only way to ship is through the airlines. This is costly. Airfare runs $170–250, the shipping crate required by the airlines is $35, and the vet health certificate required for the animals to cross state lines is $40–60. Ouch! Fear not though, there are breeders of fancy rats on the East Coast. Check out the International Rat and Mouse Directory or IRMD [no longer around], the Rodent Breeders List at www.altpet.net/rodents/breeder.html with breeders listed by state and country, or the Petbynet Rat Breeders list [no longer around]. There are also a couple of links on the AFRMA web site as well at www.afrma.org/breederlist.htm or www.afrma.org/afrmalinks.htm [Update: Check the article “Looking for Breeders Near You” for other places to search] If you cannot find anything, then there are breeders here in California that will ship animals out to you so drop them a line, and I am sure you will be able to find what you want. [See the “Shipping Rodents” article for more info on shipping requirements.]