Why is it you keep rats?

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Why is it you keep rats?

Post by GillianK on Wed Mar 21, 2012 8:25 am

OK. So I just fancied a chatty post! My question is ... how and why did you end up keeping rats?

When I tell people I keep rats, I always get this look of half disgust and half disbelief, and the first thing they ask me is 'why?' or 'how did you end up keeping rats?' Not exactly the response I get when I tell people I own a horse or a dog, but always the response when I tell them about Blanche and Dorothy. Just because they are rats. I try to explain that my rats are fancy rats and not the wild rats they're thinking of but they don't see it like that and I never quite know how to answer their questions.

I remember growing up and rats were seriously taboo, vermin to be stamped out. Noone I knew kept them or liked them.

As a teenager tho, I kinda fancied the idea of keeping rats but I'd never have been allowed. And when I met my hubby he disliked rats too, didn't want them, especially when we got a rat infestation in our attic, and had to call out pest control to kill them as we couldn't get rid of them.

Finally a couple of years back I decided I had to see what it would be like to own rats. And if I'm honest it was partially because they are so taboo that I wanted them, kinda fancied keeping these 'creepy' pets, and see what it'd be like, would they be intelligent, would they be friendly, would I even like them! At this point I'd never met anyone who owned them and had never even touched a rat before. Had read up on how to care for them but lets face it, didn't know much. How can you when you've never really experienced them.

I remember when I first saw Stella and Blanche in a box in the pet shop, I was totally in awe of them, thought they were huge, was fascinated with their long tails, and I thought Blanche looked particularly interesting with her red rat eyes. Could hear them scratching about in their box on the way home and remember thinking to myself 'I'm so excited about this, but I can't believe I've just bought 2 rats!' I guess that was just a lifetime of being told they were creepy having an effect.

But then within hours of arriving home I remember putting my hand in the cage and Blanche coming forward to sniff my hand and take a look at me. She was happy to allow me to pick her up, and then allowed me to stroke her and take a good look at her whilst she began grooming. That first few minutes holding Blanche was more of an education to me on rats than a lifetime of being told they were 'dirty' and 'vicious' and to be 'stamped out'. Suddenly they were cute, and clean, and very very friendly.

I still can't quite understand myself why I originally chose to keep rats, what it was in me that wanted this taboo little creature that the world seems to hate. I now know why I love them now that I've been keeping them a while, but I don't know why I wanted them originally.

Have you always loved rats? And how did you come about taking on this taboo pet?
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Re: Why is it you keep rats?

Post by siofradh on Wed Mar 21, 2012 12:03 pm

I have always had either cats or dogs, never any caged pets really, so was quite interested in getting one. I fostered rabbits, but they weren't actually mine, and didn't get to keep them for very long, so that didn't count. I also had two ferrets for a couple of months, but again, they were fosters. I was only 12, and didn't have proper caging for them either.
I was interested in getting ferrets again, since I was old enough to look after them myself. I was researching them for a while on youtube etc, when I came across rats. I never disliked them, or thought of them as ugly, I just never had an interest as keeping them as pets. So I continued researching, learned about how intelligent and clean they were, about housing, diet and behaviour, then made the decision to get to girls. It was nearing Christmas, so it was the perfect time since I'd have money to get everything for them at the one time, the only problem was convincing my mam. Laugh She's a huge animal lover herself, but didn't know much about rats so I just kept telling her about them, how they're not high maintenance compared to cats or dogs, and how friendly and clean they were. After about two weeks of constant nagging at her, she agreed to go 'look' at cages in the petstore. She made it very clear that she was only looking to get me to shut up about them, but we ended up leaving with my first two girls, Bee and Olive, a huge cage, a litter tray, hammocks, litter, toys, food dishes and water bottles Big Grin Laugh
Since then, I've aquired four more rats, Whiskey, my hooded spotty girl, and my three new boys Bruiser, Bosco and Ludo. They are honestly my favourite pet I've ever had, and I can see myself keeping them for the rest of my life. Future rat hoarder here! Love Love
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Re: Why is it you keep rats?

Post by Zoundz on Wed Mar 21, 2012 2:22 pm

Looong story. My first encounter was at the house of one of my parent's friends. Her oldest daughter (a teenager at the time) had a pair of white rats, and I was about 6. I was fascinated and loved them! Smile I had hamsters as a child, but then nothing for a good many years. Then I met my best friend Jo, and spent a lot of time with her, and her sister Nao had a pair of rats and a pair of mice, and we spent forever playing with them and cuddling them and I just LOVED the ratty boys... Neelix and Quark. Soooo - a few months after meeting them, I kept seeing rats in pet shops and begged mum to let me get one. So, I got Samoth. I then got Wilhelmina - though couldn't get them living together, not experienced at all, could find no information on them, and just couldn't manage it. At the same time I also was breeding hamsters and mice for local pet shops Sad

Sooo - we moved to Ireland, I managed to cut down numbers massively just before moving (think we had Sendai go through the rodents) - and all I had left was Samoth. When she died I was unable to get more rats, as I could find nowhere in Ireland that sold them. Then in 2003 I met Karl, and in summer 2004, we decided to get a pet - and got a pair of rats <3 the rest is history, I've not been without them since!

xx

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Re: Why is it you keep rats?

Post by katherine on Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:54 am

I don't remember the *first* encounter I had with them that made me want to keep them, but I know it was either at a country fair or an animal experience talk - I know this because up to that point I had been *obsessed* with ferrets, since seeing someone with pet ferrets at a country fair and being able to hold them and then bet on a race between them Laugh then my granny shouted at the man til he gave me my money back when I lost because he rigged it Laugh Laugh Laugh Anyway I was about 5 at the time I guess and it was all ferrets from then on til I saw someone similar only with rats and they pushed all the ferrety stuff out of my head Big Grin (wouldn't ind one at some point in the future though Wink )

From then on I started reading books in the library and about rats and mice and wanting to get some - about the same time a friend of mine moved away to new zealand and was allowed to breed rats on her newly aquired massive farm which obviously made things worse - I was desperate to breed - so glad I was never allowed any rats or mice at all now because I would have been a 10 year old backyard breeder otherwise *shudder* that and all the books I was reading I now realise, were utter shite.

So yeah I was never allowed any but was very interested and used to hang out at my local petshop on my way home from school where I sat in front of the tanks so often the staff got very friendly with me - while I don't agree with petshops selling animals I will say the staff were all very caring and the animals kept very well. Anyway there was this massive agouti buck in there who wouldn't sell - I called him Swizzle and I looooved him. He was so soppy and the staff would let me go into the staff only animal area to handle him every day after school - he was great, just used to lie in my arms and sleep. My mum was dead against me getting them because she didn't really like them, it's a shame because I was so desperate to have him. The pet shop told her they would let me have him as a single rat even though it was against their policy because, like I say, he wouldn't sell. Anyway eventually he did sell to some little boy who renamed him fat rat Sad but he really cemented my love of them. After that I still wasn't allowed any but my mum said maybe a mouse.... then she found out male mice smell so she finally got me a pair of chinese hamsters - they were my first ever caged pet. They were sweet but I wouldn't be fussed about owning them again.

At uni I wasn't allowed any pets or I would have got some then, so when I finally got some independence I promised myself now I could do it properly I would, and that was when I moved to Ireland and got my first bf boys (who really didn't disappoint) Grin and somehow couldn't stop getting them. Now in a weird twist of fate, I'm back living with my mum with 6 rats Laugh Laugh Laugh They still wouldn't be her favourite animal ever but she's got over it a bit.

I was never taught as a child they were bad or dirty or wicked at all and I've always loved animals... I think I had a few children's books about mice too and of course watched Tales of the Riverbank, so I don't think it's a surprise I love them - they're fab, they'd appeal to anyone I think Wink

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Re: Why is it you keep rats?

Post by WordVomit on Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:27 am

I remember vividly in a car journey with a friend, I was only about 10 and we were on a busy road, a wild rat ran out on the road and my friend's dad tried and succeeded in running over it.

I remember the sense of injustice and anger that overcame me. I didn't say anything, for I was such a shy thing. But I always resented him for it.

I just always knew I liked rats. Just like puppies, I always thought they were adorable. I think it's just an innate thing, my grandmother loved mice.

Then last year I decided and got three wonderful boys, (From a very scary rat breeder no less...) and then adopted two more. My god, what a handful

what a wonderul handful they all are Grin Grin
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Re: Why is it you keep rats?

Post by Zoundz on Mon Mar 26, 2012 9:27 pm

Which breeder are your rats from Helen? Smile

xx

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Re: Why is it you keep rats?

Post by WordVomit on Mon Mar 26, 2012 10:35 pm

Zoundz wrote:Which breeder are your rats from Helen? Smile

xx

She lives in North Belfast, I can remember her name but i'd feel bad publicising it here. I could be totally wrong! But anyway, I put an add on gumtree as I wasn't sure where to look and i'd heard pet shop ratties weren't always the best idea.

So I got a reply "I have what you need" within about two hours. It was weird!

Then I got to her house she had all these animals everywhere, boxers in cages....


She gave me two boys but it turned out one was a girl and the other a boy. I panicked, and called her back. She was very nice and apologetic, but it worried me that she sexed them wrong. I mean...the balls...they stand out!!

Also the boys I got from her (she gave me an extra one for free-he has a bad eye and she couldn't sell it to a pet shop anyway) have always been scared. Very very cautious. I am very patient with them, I love them to bits, but a year has passed and they're never comfortable when out of their rat quarters. They're in my bedroom, they should be used to me by now. Sad

Makes me think they weren't treated all that great when they were born. I've stopped trying to force myself on them, instead I made a huge cage for them. They have a lot of room but I do feel bad as my other two rats live full time in my room. Their cage door never closes.
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Re: Why is it you keep rats?

Post by redrach on Tue Mar 27, 2012 5:05 am

WordVomit, unfortunately it sounds like this person was a 'backyard breeder' and not even a very good one at that ): Unfortunately there's only one reputable breeder in the whole of Ireland, that is registered with the National Fancy Rat Society. Backyard breeders tend to breed for profit and their rats, as with pet shop rats aren't often well socialised or of good health. NFRS breeders, like Zoundz, on the other hand, breed specifically for good health and temperament.

Not lecturing by the way, even the 'best' of us on here have started with pet shop rats or have had run ins with 'breeders'. I just thought i'd explain the difference in case you didn't know. Either way, the important thing is that you care about your rats which is evident from your being a member of this forum and your desire to give them as big a cage as possible, etc.

I first wanted rats when I was about 14, or more specifically, I wanted mice. I was living with my dad in a small rented house and he promised me if & when we moved in with his partner that I could get a pet. I was told I wasn't allowed a cat or a dog as they were too big, but I could get something small. I decided I wanted mice, I have no idea why, I just wanted them.

Eventually we moved in and it was decided that I wasn't allowed any pets after all. Angry and sad.

During first year uni I was living in halls and really wanted a sneaky pet. I thought back to wanting mice, but in the end decided against it because I'd probably get caught and kicked out of halls.

During the summer after first year I moved in with the OH and we decided to get a pet. Straight off I mentioned mice and he was happy enough with the idea. I started doing a little research and found that rats would probably be a better pet for me based on their size and intelligence. The local pet shop was out of rats at the time so I can across Albie and Chandler on gumtree. And there it began, almost 2 years ago.
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Re: Why is it you keep rats?

Post by Zoundz on Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:16 am

Rach said everything I'd have said (with a bit more gushing about us Love Laugh - we're not that great!) - but really, don't let it put you off Smile everyone starts somewhere! Our first rats (and in fact, first *thinks* 10-15) were from petshops! Everyone has to start somewhere Smile
xx

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Re: Why is it you keep rats?

Post by redrach on Tue Mar 27, 2012 7:39 am

Oh now Zoundz. I thought you seemed nice and good with rats until yesterday.
Now that I'm rat-sitting two lads that came from you I can't actually explain how amazing I think you guys are and the work you do. I'm genuinely not trying to be a suck up, I can't get over these two. They're about twice the size of my guys and they're the most friendly and relaxed rats ever. They had been in the car for over an hour and brought into a new home and had just met me & yet last night they were licking me half to death and boggling away.

Ahem. Embarrassed

But yeah, we all start somewhere and it's nothing to be ashamed of.
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Re: Why is it you keep rats?

Post by smokierat on Tue Mar 27, 2012 9:44 am

Blush all you want Laura,credit where credits due Smile that's Bongo Fury ratties for you Love I wouldn't change our original ratties fr the world,I adore them more than I can say Love but the difference in condition,temperament,confidence etc etc when you compare most rats with BFs is an eye opener!

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Re: Why is it you keep rats?

Post by Zoundz on Tue Mar 27, 2012 10:23 am

Thanks guys! Now I can't go to bed, my head's too big to fit through the door! Evil Grin Kiss Kiss Kiss Love

xx

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Re: Why is it you keep rats?

Post by Francois on Thu Mar 29, 2012 4:56 am

The way I got to keep rats is maybe a strange one. When I grew up, the Dutch televison aired this commercial warning for the danger of rats.. for a 4 year old, it was a scary thing, causing me to have nightmares about rats, checking under the bed for rats, etc.. I kinda grew out of that fear, but it was still there in a sense. It was only years later, when I was in the Royal Dutch Marines, I had this rather mad thing about facing any conceivable fear. (trust me, being in the marines, you quickly run out of challenging fears Big Grin ) So the only thing left, was to delve in my childhood fears and I knew I just had to face one of those monsters that sent me shivering under my blanket Big Grin

Imagine my surprise when I met someone who had a pet rat.. it was nothing like the black monster with razor sharp teeth that the old commercial painted of our furry friends.

Now this was back in the day when having rats for pets was undiscovered country (mid 1980's) and I actully got in touch with the very first people in Holland breeding rats for pets (the whoel fancy rat thing wasn't around then) So I met up with a breeder, who gave well intended information (that nowadays would just seem laughable) and I got a single buck, which I named Ben. Ben wass 4 weeks old when I got him and was a tiny ball of lickyness that made you go "awwwww" Love

In the 2 years I had Ben, I think there was hardly a day where he would not be sitting on my shoulder and he practically lived in my T-shirt (I took him out for shopping, etc)

After Ben passed away, I didn't want to get a "replacement" for my best friend and I stayed ratless for 2 years Sad

Then one night I went into a bar and saw this guy who had a female rat, basically advertising how he was going to feed it to his snake and even dunked the poor thing into a glass of beer "to bring it up to taste". Now being a marine who just got back from Lebannon, who was seeking to have a quiet pint, away from the human madness, that idiot could not have picked a worse time and a worse place to be mean to a rat, in the company of myself, who after seen enough human cruelty wasn't going to put up with cruelty towards animals(especially a ratty) Evil

One bone-crushing punch later, I was the owner of a young female and took her home. I called her Lady, and despite being maltreated, she was a smart and sweet little thing that learned not all humans are arseholes and it turned out she was the sweetest rat I ever came across as she gave me her trust Love It also turned out she was very pregnant as well, so 2 weeks later I had 11 rats Laugh

Don't ask me how, but I kept them all in a small appartment and they stayed with me for their entire lives, often eating better then I did. Tongue







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Re: Why is it you keep rats?

Post by katherine on Thu Mar 29, 2012 7:27 am

Aw what a nice story Smile I'm disgusted to hear about the man in the bar and so pleased that he picked that time to mistreat her in public, so that she got a 1 in a million chance to be rescued Smile

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