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Posted: Jul 15 2012, 06:15 PM
Member No.: 159
Joined: 6-May 12
I would like to introduce myself. My name is Gareth Cuthbert, I live in the Borders and have just started keeping rats again for the first time in about 8 years. In the past, I have bred from rats, not as a business venture or even accidentally. It was on purpose and mostly to satisfy my curiosity. I know some or most of you will be gasping in horror right now, but be assured, I didn't undertake the process lightly. Before I started, I got names of reliable future custodians for the youngsters and even helped some of the chosen few to set up ready for their new family members. I set aside an entire room so Rita (could have a nice calm and temperature controlled environment to have her young. I even invested in a completely new type of housing to accommodate the Rita (and her litter when they arrived). An enormous marine fish tank with a wooden and mesh top, a nice cozy beech wood house for privacy and a number of climbing/chewing toys too. Wouldn't you credit it. I had gone out and found home for 9 kittens entirely on spec just to find out that Rita was above average fertility! 13 babies! Luckily, I was on good terms with a couple of independant pet shops where I was able to source another couple of homes to place the extra 4 babies. Rita was a big girl and a very good mum as all 13 kittens survived birth and rearing. All went to good homes (i delivered them all to their new homes), they were not only well looked after by Rita, but everyone of them went to their new homes having been handled for at least 15 minutes twice a day from the time their fur had grown in fully. It was an experience that I consider myself lucky to have had, lucky it went so well and something that, now I have children, would consider doing again. Again, probably not as a business venture, not for profit, but to share that wonderful feeling with my sons. But alas it won't be with my two middle-aged boys, nibbles and Zed, that we got from a rescue centre and they were nearly a year old when I got them. They had been fed through the bars of their cage which made them bite inquisitive fingers through the bars and it's taken nearly 2 months to get them to ignore fingers through the bars.they are handled every day and seem to be very contented in their new home. The thing that get me most, is that folk go out and spend £80 on a cage, pay the best part of £20 (pets at home prices) for a pair of rats, plus the various other bits (water bottle, food etc), then a couple of months later dump them on an animal shelter's doorstep.
Things I have noticed that have changed since I last kept rats. The last time, you could have regular rat (various colours and markings) or if you wanted something a bit different, rex or hairless. Now you go into pet shops and the prevailing breed is Dumbo. Nothing against them but I have never been a fan of "fashionable" pets. It's a slippery slope to poor genetics through inbreeding, and quite frankly, and I don't mean to offend anyone by stating this, but they do look a bit like the lights are on but no one is home.
I would like to think that people keep rats as pets, not for anything other than the feeling you get for keeping these wonderful little animals safe and happy.