• The Rat Retreat’s mission is to champion the rights of rats across the world through education, outreach, adoption, health research, and hospice. We seek to eliminate abuse and improper breeding; to assist with educated adoptions; to reduce disease leading to early death; to educate consumers and pet stores about proper handling and maintenance; and, to provide companionship and on-going care for abandoned and sick rats.

Rat Bite Fever

We want to highlight a media release where a little boy, Aidan, died of rat bite fever after getting a pet rat called Alex. The news article speaks of a number of allegations and that the parents are suing Petco (the petshop where Alex the rat came from) for selling an infected rat. Now arguably, Petco is not the best reputed pet store you can think of…

Nevertheless there are certain missing aspects in the press release: It was never confirmed that the rat actually bit Aidan, but it is a fact that infection can occur through urine or mucous secretions.

It should also be noted that rats are not the only type of animal that can be infected with this disease. Others include weasels, gerbils, and squirrels. Household pets such as dogs or cats that are exposed to these animals can also carry the disease and infect humans or other animals.

While Aidan’s death is a tragedy, we do feel the obligation to inform the public correctly to prevent misconceptions about rats as pets. Many pets are susceptible to illnesses that can be transferred to humans or other pets, including rat bite fever.

http://ktla.com/2014/02/25/family-of-boy-killed-by-rat-bite-fever-sues-petco-over-allegedly-infected-pet-rat/#axzz2uSr92iqB

http://www.ratfanclub.org/fever.html

Mad-Eye

Mad-Eye – By Reed and the BigSillies

December 21, 2007 I was shopping for Christmas presents for the BigSillies. I was on my way home from college and stopped at a pet store I’d been in a few times because I had to pass right by it. Normally I didn’t go in the back to see their rats unless the one girl that worked there asked me for advice (she was a BigSillies fan). This time she asked, and she told me there was a rat that ‘had been attacked by another rat in transport by the breeder’ and she was thinking about taking him home. She was a bit hesitant because she had small children, a dog and a couple of rats of her own. I looked into the tank and there were two of the largest rats I had ever seen. They were both listless…just laying side by side not even bothering to snuggle each other.

She pulled out the longest, most pitiful looking PEW I had ever seen. His eye had been gouged out, his skull was fractured, his nose had been broken, his foot was mangled and had a lump, and his tail had a bad kink in it. There was no way those were injuries from a rat fight. At first I assumed they were done by a human, but once I discovered his personality, I KNEW. Someone had tried to feed him to a snake and he lived.
I told her he was going to need a lot of time and attention and left. I made it 1/2 mile, made a U turn and went back to get that boy. I knew he was calling me to save him and she was not able to give him the time and attention he would need. She agreed and off we went.
Of course it was the weekend, it was Christmas, and there was no where else to take him. So I set him up in my bedroom and closed the door while the BigSillies stayed upstairs.
He came alive. I have no other way to explain it. As soon as I had him settled he just…came to life! He bustled around, checked everything out, then decided he wanted some privacy and tugged some old clothing I’d put in his cage to barricade the door to his hut. Obviously he was still scared.
On December 22 I opened his cage and sat on the bed to watch. The bedroom had formerly been the domain of Super Stasher Midnight. This guy tumbled out and started exploring the whole room. Suddenly I heard a lot of rattling. But I stayed on the bed. Next thing I knew he appeared with a walnut and a look of utter glee on his face! He’d found treasure! For the next 30 minutes he busily hustled back and forth transporting Midnight’s entire stash into his cage (no doubt by this time, that was HIS cage!) and he then dug up the bedding, stored all HIS walnuts and tugged the clothing from the night before over them! Then I got the look that earned him the nick name Mr. Funny Face. His damaged head gave him the silliest smile ever and he and I both knew he was home and he was going to be okay.

On December 23 it was time to bond with daddy. Mad-Eye’s response? He sprawled his full length across my chest and I swear he sighed! He loved to lay in the crook of my elbow along my fore arm. He was so long that his butt would be snug in the inside of my elbow and his nose reached the middle of my palm! He decided right then and there I was his daddy and he loved me completely.

On December 24 it was nearly Christmas and Mad-Eye needed a present. Even though I know things can go horribly wrong I took him upstairs to meet Dilbert Doo my bullet proof rat (nothing intimidated Dilbert, not even poofy rats twice his size). From the first sniff they both decided they had found their forever friend!

Mad-Eye’s love for me and his Dilbert was greater than his broken body. His eye healed over and he determined to give his whole heart to the two most important souls in his life. He would hear me pull up from school, leave he & Dilbert’s nest and be waiting at the top of the stairs every day when I got home. Once I put my stuff down he had to have 15 minutes of play, lovings and rough housing. Then he’d take a nap on my chest for 30 minutes and then return to the nest with Dilbert!

He absolutely disliked being alone! One time I was home and found Dilbert awake, but Mad-Eye sound asleep, so I took Dilbert downstairs. 15 minutes later I went upstairs. Mad-Eye had woken up, discovered he was alone and shredded the majority of a full 24 pack of toilet paper in protest!

Dilbert & Mad-Eye were constant companions. Both were well behaved boys that were allowed to free range the majority of the house. Mr. Funny Face continued to put in appearances. He was a happy, bouncy boy. The only time he was ‘ferocious’ was when there were chikens involved, he loved his chikens!

He and Dilbert took everything in stride, including having to move and give up the house they loved to roam. The 80 year old landlord’s daughter decided she was taking over managing the property and she did NOT want rats in it.

We settled into a new, smaller place and disaster struck. Q’Bert somehow got loose when Mad-Eye was roaming around. Q’Bert had to be kept alone because he was a rare alpha rat that thought his job was to kill other rats. Off the the vets we went to get Mad-Eye’s insides put back in and his belly stitched up.

He was a trooper through the whole thing. Unfortunately, it was enough to allow his broken body to betray him. Of all the damaged parts Mad-Eye had, it was his kinked tail that became the problem. Some of the pictures are not pleasant to look at.

With the kink in his tail, the blood flow was restricted. Before his belly wound healed he began developing abscesses on his tail. Horrible, open, oozing sores formed. His vet and I fought them with internal and topical medications. Again Mad-Eye was a trooper, and a lover. I know it had to be horrendously painful as I tried to squeeze the puss out of his tail.

He never once cried out or squeaked. Mad-Eye’s way of dealing with the pain was to groom my hand as I tortured his poor tail. Finally, with the infection spreading, the vet and I came to the heart breaking conclusion that in order to save Mad-Eye’s life, his tail would have to be amputated. On the Friday before Father’s day he was scheduled for surgery on Monday.

He slowly slid downhill late Saturday. Dilbert was the trooper now dividing his time between me and his buddy. Sunday afternoon Dilbert came in the room, looked at me, looked at Mad-Eye, hopped up on the chair where Mad-Eye was struggling and shoved his way under his buddy to prop him up. Dilbert always was good at communicating to me what he wanted. In that moment I knew Dilbert was there to comfort his best friend on his way to the Bridge.

We had fought so hard, but I knew he would never make it to the surgery Monday. I left the 2 of them to have their time. Once he had passed, Dilbert hopped down off the chair and came to get me and we both said our goodbyes.

Mad-Eye had a happy 12 months of life with me and Dilbert. It’s hard not to focus on that last month and wonder what would have been if we had opted to amputate his tail as soon as the huge sores started. But, Mad-Eye had many people that dearly loved him around the world. They all were hoping and praying. And when he moved on, they all reminded me that he never would have had 12 months of pure happiness if I hadn’t turned my car around a couple of days before Christmas 2007.

Mad-Eye has been honored by many people over the years. Any PEW I adopt has had “ME” in their name. People that have had rat babies born with one eye gave their babies names that had “ME” in them. There were MeeToo, Me Mouse, and MissMeeToo that I remember, but I do know there were more “ME” names by others. Now as after many ratless years there will be new BigSillies. One of them is a PEW and his name is MeeMoose.

Mad-Eye was one of the most loving souls I have ever encountered in my 50+ years. I think that he would say 12 months of true love and friendship were worth the cost of that final month. I know he took a huge piece of my heart with him and I will remember him forever. He and Dilbert are together again now. Probably destroying chikens and toilet paper on a daily basis at the Rainbow Bridge. I know he has been watching over me as I type through the tears.

Rat Cages

Preparing and setting up your rat’s cage is very important. Your rat will spend most of its life inside this cage and so you need to make sure it is a safe and fun place to live. We will go over each aspect of setting up your rat’s cage.

  • Cage Size
  • Cage Type
  • Problems
  • Floors/Bedding
  • Litter Box
  • Filling the Cage
  • Food/Water
  • Free Range Time
  • Sample Cage

 

Cage Size

Each rat should have at least 2 cubic feet of cage space. To find cubic measurements you multiply the cage length x height x width.  There are 1,728 cubic inches in a cubic foot.  I will call this our magic number. To make a cage more interesting, I recommend it having multiple levels and ramps. For senior rats that may have difficulty using ramps or for rats that have balance issues or hind-end degeneration, I suggest a one level cage.

How can you determine how many rats will fit in the cage you want to buy?  If you enjoy math, it is pretty simple.  Here are some examples:

(If you don’t enjoy math, don’t worry, I will give you another option!)

Example #1 : Petco Rat Manor Habitat

This cage measures 16.5″ x 22.5″ x 32″

Multiply those numbers together:  16.5” x 22.5” x 32” = 11,880 cubic inches

Then divide the cubic inches by our magic number: 11,880 / 1,728 = 6.875 cubic feet (3 rats)

Example #2 : Critter Nation Single Unit

This cage measures 36” x 25” x 39”

Multiply those numbers together: 36” x 25” x 39” = 35,100 cubic inches

Then divide the cubic inches by our magic number: 35,100 / 1,728 = 20.3125 cubic feet (10 rats)

For those who hate math, there is a great rat cage calculator here: http://www.rattycorner.com/odds/calc.shtml.  Just enter your cage’s dimensions and it will tell you how many rats will comfortably fit in your cage.

 

Cage Type

There are basically three types of cages people use for rats: aquariums, wire cages, and homemade cages. We do not recommend the use of aquariums for the following reasons:

  • The solid sides prevent the circulation of fresh air.
  • The lack of ventilation means that the ammonia from rat urine builds up and makes an unpleasant home as well as negatively affecting your rat’s health and shortening their life expectancy.
  • In the summer or warmer climates, aquariums can build up heat.
  • There are no bars to hang hammocks and toys from and nowhere for your rats to climb.

We do recommend wire cages, or nicely homemade cages with adequate ventilation.

Here are some of my personal favorites:

Martin’s Cages : http://www.martinscages.com/products/cages/rat/

Critter Nation : http://www.ferret.com/cages/cages/887/

 

Problems

Bumblefoot

The use of wire floored cages, including wire shelves or balconies, has been implicated as a cause of bumblefoot. Many decent rat cages have upper levels made from wire mesh. Owners should consider covering wire balconies with a solid surface (e.g. wood, vinyl, plexiglass, plastic needlepoint canvas, blankets, towels, fleece). However, even rats kept on solid flooring can get bumblefoot, and a new theory has developed that exposure to urine pooled on solid floors (especially plastic) may also contribute to the problem. Therefore, it is important to keep all cage surfaces clean and dry. No matter the cage materials, frequent and thorough cage cleaning appears to be the best defense.

Escaping Rats

Another potential problem with wire cages is their bar spacing. Some of the best rat cages are actually designed for ferrets and can have quite widely spaced bars. This can be a problem for young rats and small females, who may be able to squeeze through the bars, leaving them free to get into all kinds of rattie trouble when no one is watching.

One solution is to have different cages for the age of your rats. Young rats can start off with a smaller home, with more suitable bars and grow into their adult home. This has the added benefit of being less overwhelming if your new rats are particularly young and may find moving into a large home daunting. It may be a costly solution, but if you find a lovely large cage that is not suitable for the size of your rats and you don’t mind the expense then it is an option. You will still need to choose a cage that has plenty of room for your young rats as they have large amounts of energy to burn and cramping them into a small hamster cage will stunt their development.

I have also seen people cover the cage with a layer of chicken wire to keep small rats in, and then removing the wire once the rats can no longer fit through the bars.

Floors/Bedding

Many people are unaware of which types of bedding should/should not be used.

Do not use cedar or pine.

The use of aromatic pine or cedar may affect your rat’s health in several ways.  Long term inhalation of these chemicals may compromise the rat’s immune system making it more prone to the development of respiratory problems resulting from mycoplasma.  It has also been shown in the laboratory that the phenols in these softwoods can alter the levels of the liver enzymes in laboratory rats.

It is okay to use aspen, careFRESH, pellets, or cloth.

Aspen is a good choice for bedding. Being a hardwood, there are no toxic phenols in it making it a safe choice for your rat. The only problem with aspen is that it can be messy and difficult to vacuum.

CareFRESH is made from paper pulp.  It has the appearance of shredded gray egg carton material.  Rats seem to like this product although some owners complain about its odor being unpleasant, especially when wet.  It also tends to be dusty.

Pellet bedding is also popular.  A common brand is Yesterday’s News. It is manufactured from recycled newspaper and was originally intended to be an alternative cat litter.  Many pet owners use it satisfactorily.  The one problem with Yesterday’s News is that it does tend to crumble and get dusty after it has been wet and then dried out.

Other pellet bedding products on the market are made from different materials such as compressed aspen, wheat grass, and cellulose fiber (Cell-sorb Plus).

Cloth is a useful alternative to conventional cage bedding especially if the rats, or their owners, have allergies.  Old clothing, fabric diapers, fleece, and pillowcases or sheets make good choices.  Be sure to use cloth that does not unravel easily. Long strings can get caught around the rat’s appendages and cause injury.  This is particularly a concern with babies and young rats.

Wash the fabric bedding with a hypoallergenic laundry detergent using warm or hot water.  Occasional washing with a small amount of bleach is fine as long as the load of laundry is washed again using detergent only or put through two rinse cycles.  If you can detect any bleach odor after washing then please run them through another complete cycle.  Refrain from using perfumed fabric softeners which can irritate a rat’s respiratory tract.

If your floors are made from wire mesh you should cover most, if not all, of the floor with something to protect your rats’ feet.  Too often rats get sprains or breaks from getting their feet caught in the cage floor.  Having a floor that wire spacing is ½” x ½” will help to reduce injury. The other problem with wire floors is that it can aggravate bumblefoot if your rat is predisposed to it.

There are many good options for making the cage floors safe. One very good one is linoleum (non-glued for easy cleaning) cut to the size of the floor.  It cleans easily and looks attractive.  Other floor covering options are placemats (cloth, fleece, plastic, needlepoint canvas, and non-stick rubber shelf liner).

Cardboard, plywood, and carpet are all poor flooring choices. These are too hard to keep clean and cannot be wiped down.

Rats enjoy multiple levels in their cages.  A few products that can add levels are movable bird platforms, hanging baskets, and hammocks. Ferret tubes connected together can be attached to the side (both inside and out) or top of the cage and used as a way to get from one platform to the next. You can also cut coated wire shelving to size and attach it to the cage using wire ties.

 

Litter Boxes

Keeping litter boxes in your cages will help with maintaining overall cage cleanliness.  Rats are, for the most part, easily trained to use a litter box.  Using a different material in the litter box from the normal bedding in the cage will help the rat differentiate between its floor and its toilet area.  Remember to not use pine or cedar.  Find the corner or spot in the cage where your rats usually go to the bathroom and place the litter box there.  Rats can further be encouraged to use the litter box if you leave a bit of soiled litter and a few droppings with which to scent while training. Place your rat(s) in the litter box to show them it’s there, and offer them praise and healthy treats when they use the litter box. During those times when they do not use the litter box remind them by saying “No” and gently sit the rat in the litter box along with the droppings you picked up and placed in there.

Unfortunately most rats will not urinate in their litter boxes regularly. But even if it only catches the feces it is still a great aide in helping your rat’s environment stay cleaner.

Filling the Cage

You will need to provide your rat with a nest box or a “house” that he can hide in to sleep.  You can find items at the pet store such as large igloos, chinchilla bathhouses, roll-a-nest beds, ferret ball connectors, roll-a-nest balls, and log cabin homes among others. On a more creative side you can use plastic bowls turned upside down with a large hole drilled in it, 4” PVC pipe, sturdy cardboard boxes, and even plastic storage boxes with holes notched into them. There are many possibilities.

Once you have the bed/s provide your rat with material that he can make a nest with. Some rats are very avid nest builders and will enjoy setting up their beds. Some good suggestions are non-stringy fabric, CareFRESH bedding, shredded paper, paper towels, tissues, pillowcases, etc…

Be sure to change the nesting material often.  Ammonia resulting from urine can be harmful to the rat especially in a small confined area such as a nesting bed.

Rats love to get up high off the ground.  This is one of the reasons that so many companies and individuals are offering hammocks, soft sleeping tubes, and hanging hideaways.  Hammocks are a must for a rat cage.  They come in many sizes and styles.  You can purchase cozy fleece lined hammocks, ones with pockets, or lightweight lounge hammocks.  Many pet stores offer ferret cage accessories, these can be used and are particularly good for larger rats. One of the advantages to having a wire cage is that it provides a good place where you can hang these versatile beds.

I have loved the hammocks I have ordered from Janis Stern at RatAttackTeam Hammocks.

Making your own hammocks and soft tubes is easy.  If you sew it is possible to really go all out and design fancy ones.  If you aren’t able to sew you can fashion hammocks out of towels, scrap fabric, cloth place mats, cloth diapers, or old clothes.  Tubes can be fashioned from pant legs cut off and hung within the cage.

Homemade hammocks and soft tubes can be hung with safety pins, diaper pins, grommets, chains, hooks, or any other method that holds them secure. Lining the hammock or soft tube with a towel after it is hung will allow you to change the surface without having to change out the hammock in-between cleanings.

Hard tubes can be bought in the ferret section.  These tubes connect and hang with chains.  They come in different colors and are transparent so that you can view the rat.  Large PVC pipe and drainage pipe will also work and can be drilled and hung.

Rats just want to have fun so provide them with things to play with.  The best toy they will have, of course, is you.  Interaction, hand wrestling, training and play time out of their cage with you are the most important activities that your rats can have.  During the times that you are not around though, other toys will make the rat’s life more fun.

An exercise wheel is a great cage accessory if your rat will use it.  Typically females are more inclined to be wheel runners, but that isn’t always the case.  Some males will use them, too.  Be sure to provide only a non-wire large wheel to prevent injury such as the plastic Wodent Wheel or one of the solid metal type wheels.

Treat toys are always a big hit.  For a simple homemade treat toy you can put treats in a small cardboard box and watch as your rats busily demolish it to get their treat.  You can also attach fruit or hard treats with holes drilled into them to a large binder ring and attach it to the side of the cage.

Rats love to climb. You can outfit your cage with such things as ladders, ropes, wooden bird branches, and climbing tubes. You will find many good climbing toys in the ferret and bird department of the pet store. Take care to not use climbing toys in the cages of elderly or ill rats.

In the wild rats forage and dig. Giving them a digging box is a safe way to let them indulge in this natural behavior.  To create a digging box all you need is a plastic box, such as a litter box for cats or a low plastic storage box, and a bag of sterile potting soil.  Make sure the soil has no fertilizers or other additives.  You can add seeds to grow oat grass, wheat grass, millet, rye, or even use birdseed.  Add enough moisture to grow the grass, but not enough to cause fungus or mold growth.  Assorted rocks and a PVC tunnel partially buried create an even more interesting environment.  For fun you can hide treats in the digging box for your rat.  Your rats digging box can either be in or outside of the cage.  If you leave it in the cage you will have to clean it and replace the soil regularly.

 

Food and Water

Rats are free feeders and require a constant supply of food.  Food dishes need to be heavy and low so that they cannot be spilled.  If you have rats that stash their food be sure to not overfeed them and remove any perishable food before they begin to decompose.  The best food option for rats are lab blocks.  I recommend Harlan Teklad, Oxbow or Mazuri.

Water is the most important thing your rat needs.  Always make sure that clean water is available.  Do not put water in an open bowl.  Your rat will either tip it over or fill it up with bedding.  There are several good types of water bottles.  Most mount on the outside of the cage with a sipper tube that fits in-between the bars.  If your rats have an open cage it may be necessary to protect the top of the plastic water bottles from chewers.  You can do this by putting an empty can or a small plastic bowl over the top of it.

Multiple water bottles are a good idea so that if one bottle leaks or is empty they will still have another to drink from.  Always make sure that the bottle’s seal or gasket is in place and that the bottle does not drip.  Be sure to clean and sanitize the bottle thoroughly each week.   Make sure you have the water bottle on the lowest level of the cage.  As the rats, age, they may be unable to climb ramps and need to have access to the water bottle.

Free Ranging

Just like a dog, a rat needs time out of the house (or in this case, the cage) to exercise, explore and have some fun.  How would you like being cooped up in your house all day, and only being allowed out when some giant came and picked you up?  Not very much, I am assuming.  Rats need to be let out of their cage to explore and stretch their legs at least once or twice a day for about an hour or two.  I find a rat room to be the best way to go about free ranging, this way the area can be always 100% rat-proof and you don’t have to set it up with proofing and toys every time.  Unfortunately, most people don’t have the extra space for this kind of thing.  The second best way to do this is to have a room that is rat safe:
- No cords or anything sharp exposed
- Nothing bad that the rats could eat
- Nothing that would scare them (other pets, loud, active people, etc)
- No holes exposed into walls or furniture where the rats could get stuck or lost
- Nothing for the rats to hide under or behind out of your reach

Most dangers are quite obvious, though there are things you may not have thought about.
Many houseplants are toxic to rats.  Either remove them or ensure the rats cannot chew on them.
Always be careful where you sit, especially if you have a rocking chair or sofa bed… rats love to explore dark hidden places.  Remove shoes before walking in a rat zone and learn the “ratty shuffle” so you don’t accidentally tread on anyone.  Ensure all other household pets are locked elsewhere.  No matter how much you trust them with the rats, instinct can overwhelm them and accidents can happen.  Taping some cardboard so that it projects over the edge of bookshelves will prevent your rat from climbing up too high.  Smaller rats are good at squeezing under doors so be mindful of that and block the gap beforehand if needed.

 

Sample Cages

Central Texas Rat Rescue has wonderful cages for their rats.

 

Sources

http://www.ratcare.org/

http://www.ehow.com/how_4530253_convert-inches-cubic-feet.html

http://www.petco.com/product/106171/Petco-Rat-Manor-Habitat.aspx?CoreCat=certona-_-ProductListTopRated_Rat_1-_-Petco%20Rat%20Manor%20Habitat-106171

http://www.martinscages.com/products/cages/rat/

http://www.ferret.com/item/critter-nation-small-animal-cage-single-unit/650231/

http://exoticpets.about.com/od/careofrats/p/bumblefoot.htm

https://www.facebook.com/CentralTexasRatRescue

http://ratguide.com/care/environment/cage_accessories.php

http://www.ratforum.com/showthread.php?39000-Free-Ranging-Rats

http://ratguide.com/care/environment/cage_bedding_litter.php

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Good Night Irene

Irene came to live with us on 1/15/12. We had picked up Bernadette from an adopter who wasn’t caring for her properly and we took her cagemate, Irene, too. Irene had been purchased from Petco and was terribly shy and afraid. She could not stand to be picked up for four months. She didn’t bite, but she trembled and frantically escaped from being touched. Within four months of socializing, she reluctantly allowed herself to be picked up, but happily enjoyed petting on her head. She had beautiful, wide eyes and volunteers said she listened when they talked to her.

She had especially soft fur. When she took medicine, she sat on our shoulders and rubbed her little cheek against ours every few bites. She was not ladylike in taking treats though! She grabbed the food as if she was being starved. She lived with Bernadette when she first came, then was nonchalant in being introduced to a cage of boys.

Later when Buddy came, Irene and Bernadette moved in with him. Irene adored Buddy to the point of trying to get as fat as he was. She gained about .5 pounds while the big guy lived, then lost it after he died.  Their next roommates were Sammy and Matilda when Bernadette died. Sammy fell instantly in love with Irene and they were inseparable. When Sammy passed, she and Matilda lived peacefully together, usually snuggled in the top shelf.

 

Irene developed hind leg degeneration about six months before she died. Liquid B vitamin supplement enabled her to keep walking and climbing the four levels of her cage.

Irene was spayed within a couple of weeks of her arrival, but did not need another surgery until two years later, when she developed a tumor. Donors funding her tumor removal gave her an extra month.  While she was recovering, Matilda took care of her, staying curled protectively around her to keep her safe and warm.

She never liked being held until Diana Greene came along as a pre-vet volunteer. Irene would sit in Diana’s lap and allow her to massage her for as long as she wanted. She never looked as peaceful as she did then.

She was found lying on her side, only her body left behind, on the morning of 1/28/14. She was estimated to be close to three years old. She lived a good life here….two years of safety, warmth, good food and companionship.  Those of us who loved to look into her beautiful eyes will miss her so much as will those of us who felt her soft face against ours and were allowed to rub that sweet body as we cared for her.

Matilda groomed her face one last time before I took her away. Then went to the spot where she died and smelled where she had been.

Good night, Irene. Good night, Irene. We’ll see you in our dreams.

Live Rats are Pets

In light of recent events, we wanted to make sure that everyone knows that it is not okay to put a rat in the freezer while it is alive.  We are strong supporters of the idea that no live rodents should be fed to reptiles. It is inhumane, dangerous for the snake, cruel for the rodent, etc…  Some snake owners feel that they can/should raise their own rats for their pet snake.  Personally, I think this is a horrible idea.  Why? Either you will be feeding the rats live to the snake – nope. Or, you will have to kill the rat yourself – nope. I’ve heard of people also “stunning” the rat beforehand – absolutely nope!  All of those are bad ideas.  Making your own CO2 chamber is a bad idea. Unless done very well and properly, death by CO2 can be painful and horrible for the rat. Also, you should never kill a rat by putting it in the freezer while it is alive.  This is horrible and cruel.  This is the scenario we just encountered – someone who put a rat in the freezer alive. Someone else found him in there after 8 hours and he was still alive.  We have raised funds to help pay for his vet bills and he is going to a rat rescue where he can be loved and treated like he always should have been.

Rather than buying your own rats to kill for snake food, find a company that does it. Ask them questions. Be informed. Call them up and ask them how they kill the rats. CO2 is the recommended method if done correctly. Ask them how they ensure that the rats are not suffering during the process. Ask them for pictures of the facility. Are the rats crowded in their cages? Are the cages clean? Does this seem like a lot of work? I don’t think you should own a snake if you are not willing to do this. We are all responsible for the suffering we cause.

Here is a pamphlet from the Rat Assistance and Teaching Society regarding rats as food.  Here is the version you can download if you want to share – Rats – Pets or Food?

 

 

 

 

 

M o r e   i n f o