Rat Health Care & Information
Choosing a Breeder
There are basically 3 common sources of places to obtain rats from: - breeders, pet shop and rescue. The most common reasons to exclude rescue and pet shops as the choice of where to buy rats from is because you would like to know a bit more about the background of the rats you are getting and maybe meet some of the family of your rats and also have the breeder there to give some support/advice during the rat’s lifetime.
When buying rats, you should think about the things that are important to you and be prepared to ask the breeder questions regarding these things and if you don’t like the answers, then walk away. We all have different expectations of what we require from a breeder and you should not feel pressurised into buying kittens from a breeder if they don’t meet your expectations. Say for example if health is important, you would want to ask about longevity and health of the relatives of your prospective kittens. No breeding line is perfect and buying rats from a breeder is not a guarantee of health and longevity, but if a breeder has been working on a breeding line for a number of years, they should be able to tell you quite a lot about that line and any problems they’ve experienced in the line. (In fact when asked, most breeders will probably wax lyrical and bore you senseless talking about their rats! LOL) Be wary of someone who tries to tell you they have no problems at all in their breeding line and they are completely myco and lump free – they are lying, there is no such line!
The general rule of thumb is to ask questions and expect to be asked questions. Breeders all have different methodologies of assessing what makes a good owner in their eyes and some will prefer to talk to you on the phone or e-mail or meet you for a chat, while others may start the process with a more formal application form and proceed from there – there is no right or wrong way, but both parties should feel comfortable with each other as this should be the start of a relationship that will last the rat‘s lifetime (and if it’s a good relationship, possible several lifetimes when going back for more!).
The key thing to note as far as the NFRS breeders list is concerned is that it is not a recommendation of any breeder on there. All breeders listed are NFRS members and it is still very much a case of ‘caveat emptor’ – let the buyer beware. All our breeders are expected to follow the NFRS Guidelines for Selling Rats, but we do not have the resources or authority to do spot checks on breeders to ensure they are following these guidelines.
Just as a footnote on all this, most breeders at some stage have had some problems with the behaviour of prospective owners in their house and in the process of making arrangements. None of the breeders listed on the breeders list are commercial, we are all hobby breeders where our rats are our pets too and all of us do have family and a life outside of the rats and in most cases a day job too. Please be respectful about the times phone-calls are made – usually most people are best caught between the hours of 6 and 9 pm unless otherwise arranged. If you arrange to turn up at someone’s house, please try to do your best to make the arranged time or at least contact the breeder and let them know you unable to and if you wish to rearrange. Far too many people seem to think it is ok to reserve rats and then never turn up to collect them! The other thing to remember is we are not ‘ASDA’ for rats and cannot create that ‘pink and purple spotted rex dumbo’ (you know what I mean!) on demand!
I’m sure breeders/prospective owners can think of a few other ‘sins’, but I think most can be covered by both parties being respectful and courteous and communicating well during the process of getting to know each other and acquiring the rats.
Article written by Estelle & published in Pro-Rat-A 155
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Last modified: February 08, 2017