This article is from the Spring 2000 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Nichole Royer
E very year AFRMA participates in over ten displays at various locations [Ed. Note: Currently the number is less]. These have included the Orange County Fair, San Fernando Valley Fair, Los Angeles County Fair, as well as the America’s Family Pet Expo in Pomona [now in Orange County], the Animal Fair at Wm. S. Hart Park, the Irvine Animal Care Center, and most recently, the 4-H Animal Fair in Norco, as well as many one-day one-time displays.
These events serve a very important purpose. They expose the general public to rats and mice and go a long way towards dispelling the negative myths about them. They also serve as one of the best mediums for introducing people to rats and mice as pets and disseminating correct information about their care. Breeders use displays to advertise upcoming litters and many people have repeatedly come to the displays every couple of years, specifically, to find a reputable source for their next pet.
Displays serve as a vital link for people who own rats and mice. Many people never know there are others out there who are also crazy about these little critters. Imagine their surprise when they come across a whole display on them!
Lets face it, the best reason to have displays is because they are fun. It’s a chance for a bunch of rat and mouse enthusiasts to get together and spend some time educating the public about our favorite furry friends. It serves as a wonderful way to be reunited with old friends while providing the opportunity to make new ones.
The current AFRMA displays all operate in Southern California. The displays are staffed by volunteers who enjoy talking to the public about their favorite pets. If you live in Southern California and would like to help out at a display, please contact AFRMA. [Ed. Note: We currently need volunteers for the Orange County Fair during the month of July.] Volunteers at these events receive free entrance passes, and for some events we are also able to provide free parking.
What happens if you don’t live in Southern California or if your schedule does not permit you to come visit one of our regular displays? Don’t lament the fact that you can’t come and share the joy you take in your critters—host your own display! That’s right! Any AFRMA member, in good standing, may hold an AFRMA display in any part of the country (or world, for that matter).
Hosting a rat and mouse display is very simple. The first step is to find a location. Almost every town has some sort of fair or animal expo at some point during the year. Often times, pet shops will also host them. Usually, they are thrilled to be asked if a rat or mouse display can be included.
Even if you cannot find such an event in your area, you could still have a display. Ask your local pet shop if you can set up a table on a Saturday. This is a great way to meet new people who also love rats and mice.
Displays can be as elaborate or as simple as your interest and/or space dictate. There are three main components to a display: literature/posters, animals, and people.
The amount of space you have available dictates how elaborate you can make the display. Fairs will often supply you with a 6- or 8-foot table. This allows enough space for a very elaborate display including posters, large “playgrounds” to show off the animals in, and plenty of room for lots of human helpers. Other displays will require you to bring your own table, in which case you are limited to whatever size table you have. A card table actually makes a wonderful display table, and can easily accommodate a cage of critters, a set of brochures, and a poster or sign telling people why you are there.
Do’s and Dont’s
NOTE: Clubs should have a first-aid kit at their events; also have a mailing list available for people to sign up to get the information for your upcoming club activities. Also, if you let people pet your animals, have a spray bottle of disinfectant and paper towels or hand sanitizer for them to clean their hands before touching.