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post #1 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-06-2013, 06:49 AM Thread Starter
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Rat at the petstore HELP

Hey everyone! I already talked about this in a different thread about wanting to buy a pet mouse but I thought that more people would read this if i created a new thread so here it is. It is a bit long, my apolagies. I got carried away xD

I was at the pet store the other day and there was this one female rat that appeared to be sick. She was sitting in the corner of one of the cages and didn't move at all. She wasn't sleeping cause her eyes were open but she was just sitting there :S All her sisters were moving around and trying to climb out of the cage and when I put my hand in they would come sniff at it before running away. Normal rat stuff. However, the one in the corner didn't move once even though I was probably standing there with my hand in the cage for 10 minutes. When I picked her up she seemed very lethargic and walked slowly out of my hand to sit down in the other corner again. I asked the petstore owner about where the rats came from and apparently they came from a hobby breeder.

Now my question is: I really want to get the rat because I know that if I don't get it, no one will. Im almost sure it is sick and will end up as snake food because it will be too old to sell as a pet in 2-3 weeks. I was planning on getting mice and built them a large bin cage. It is really quite big and has several levels. Can a rat live in a bin cage? I have two other rats (both males) so I can't put them together (and if she is really sick I of course won't) but I can't get 2 rats because of the lack of room. I'm torn because I know Rat's HAVE to be sold in pairs but the poor baby looked so sad So please help me and tell me what to do!

Thanks in advance!
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post #2 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 11:34 AM
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The little sick rat will almost certainly require enormous veterinary costs to treat its ailments and even then, if it is truly as progressed as you describe, has a poor chance of recovery and will no doubt be plagued with recurring flare ups for its whole life, which will probably still be very short in the best of conditions. I have tried to save three rats similarly ill and two didn't survive the first night. The other lasted three days. It is up to you if you want to try to save her but just so you know if you buy her the shop will be rewarded for selling sick animals and will use that money to again order more of them to neglect.

Very, very few pet shops buy from hobby breeders although almost all will say they do. Most, especially chain stores, buy their rodents from mills, where they are mass produced in squalid conditions even worse than in puppy mills.

A rat could live in a bin cage and it is certainly better than dying of disease or within a snake but isn't ideal for them. If you adopt this rat and do end up treating her successfully, you would also have to get her a companion. Rats cannot live alone.
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post #3 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-07-2013, 04:12 PM
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Hey Rom.

Hidden Walrus is right.

It's so heartbreaking to see these guys, and we all sometimes can't resist trying to save one or another from a pet store. Most people start out by getting their pet rats from pet stores, because that's where they are readily available. I have found though that for folks who get bitten seriously with the ratty bug, they soon find themselves avoiding obtaining rats from pet stores, and either go with carefully selected hobby breeders (not backyard breeders), or through legitimate rescue organizations. They eventually just learn too much about the rat trade to feel comfortable doing anything else.
If you just have to rescue this poor baby I totally understand. Just to help you think it through though, here's some pros and cons for you.


Pros:
You might save a life.
You might gain a wonderful pet.
Even if she doesn't make it, you'll have provided her with a loving, safe home for her final days.

*********************

Moving on though, no reputable hobby breeder would supply a pet store with their rats. Backyard breeders (through accident or irresponsible breeding), hobby mill breeders, and large scale pet trade animal mills will be where every one of these babies come from. Occasionally you'll also get pet owners who surrender their no longer wanted pet or the store itself breeding for profit as the Pet Supply Plus near my house does.

Overall though, you can almost guarantee that the babies come from large scale rat mills, which indiscriminately over-breed rats genetically prone to serious and chronic health and temperament issues in unhealthy high stress conditions.

So that said, Cons:


By buying her, you will increase pet store demand, and prompt the breeding of another litter to maintain profit. One rescue = Ten new babies born in the same conditions.

She will likely be too far along to make it.

Depending on what is wrong with her, even if she does pull through, you can expect to spend between $100 and $800+ to save her life, probably around $400-500, and she may be on medications for her entire life.

You can also expect a higher than average occurrence of tumors.

If you have any other rodents, you will need to quarantine her for 5 weeks to ensure she doesn't have a fatal communicable disease.

Depending on her temperament, you may spend a great deal of time working with her to make her handle-able.

It's not an easy situation or choice. My heart goes out to her and you. But hopefully this information will help you clarify the path you want to take. Best of luck!


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post #4 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2013, 04:00 AM
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Story and Walrus already said it all, much better than I could ever word it.

As a side note, because I am deeply curious (and angry at the pet store of course), I wanted to ask you Rom, did you ask one of the employees or manager of this pet store about the sick looking appearance of this sweet rat? I would love to hop on a plane and fly to your city to ask myself, but alas, I am far far away from you.

I would love to know what an employee of the store would have to say about having a sickly rat in their care. Just wondering, so I can sleep tonight.

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post #5 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2013, 06:18 AM Thread Starter
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As Vladina said, I am far away from the United States! Here in the Netherlands pet stores and pet breeders are very differently handled than with you guys. For example, no dogs or cats can be sold in petstores so no puppy mills exist here. If you want to buy a dog/cat you can only get one from a breeder or the shelter of course. Pet stores can only sell animals that come from hobby breeders which have certain certificates. I know that having those certificates doesn't mean that the animal comes from a good place but i that's how it is here. Also a petstore will only have one or two litters of a certain animal on sale at the same time. Never more than that to prevent rodents becoming to old to sell as pets. Lastly, the petstores here are generally very small and they don't sell many animals at all. The main petstore in my area only has ten small cages with animals in them and 4 of those are usually empty.

I asked the petstore owner about the sick rat and she seemed genuinely concerned. She told me she had held the rat herself and listened to the rats longues and checked the eyes and everything but that she couldn't find anything that's wrong with it. She said that sometimes the rat does run around at eat and drinks but most of the time it's just sitting there in the corner.

I just feel bad for the rat and even though I have some resources for vet bills etc.. they are not endless and I am only a student. My friend got two rats from the same litter the other day and they are doing fine. It's going to be so sad when the sick rat is the only one left in the cage I honestly don't know what to do.
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post #6 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2013, 12:59 PM
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I have to disagree with you on where your pet shops get their rodents from. Apparently there are rodent mills in the Netherlands just as bad (or worse) as those here.

http://www.fancy-rats.co.uk/communit...st=0&sk=t&sd=a
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post #7 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-08-2013, 02:33 PM
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Rom, that is so wonderful that there are no puppy mills in the Netherlands like we have here in the U.S. I wish it was the same here.



We have animal rights groups here that are constantly trying to get puppy mills closed down. In fact, one of my animal groups that my husband and I donate to, called Best Friends Animal Society, finally helped to make it illegal to sell dogs and cats in pet stores in the city of Los Angeles, in California. But, there are lots of other cities to go, eh?


Anyway, back to your topic. I am glad to hear that the pet store woman talked to you about that rat and that she had held it to listen to its lungs and check it out a bit. That is at least better than some other people would care to do, so that is better than nothing, eh?


I wish I could help you to make a decision on this, and I know Storyseeker and Walrus understand how hard it is when you want to "save" this sweet rat from the petstore.



I am such a pushover with my heart when it comes to small animals so I would probably be one of those people who would scoop up the ratty and take her home with me. I try to stay out of pet stores completely to avoid having 20 ratties that I have taken home out of sympathy. So I know how hard this is! I would go with your gut instinct. Whichever decision you make will be the best one for you and for the rat.

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post #8 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-13-2013, 12:03 PM
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Oh ha....I do apologize, shame on me for not noticing that you weren't in the US. Yes, you're right, there will be differences to the way things are done naturally, and I'm not knowledgeable on thing in the Netherlands so I can't speak with authority there.

And I know it's a tough decision. There's a likelihood I couldn't resist a poor sick baby from a pet store myself, so you won't get any negative thoughts from me about that. But, my biggest thing is whatever choice we make with these guys, it's always better to do so with all the knowledge we can get, so that's why I laid out the pros and cons for you. (For the same reasons, I'm glad Hidden Walrus did the footwork for us about the Netherland rat mill. Knowledge is good. Thanks HW.)


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Last edited by Storyseeker; 01-13-2013 at 12:05 PM.
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post #9 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 06:48 AM Thread Starter
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I went to the petstore today and apparently someone bought the rat together with one of her sisters to keep as pets. So I guess that's a good thing Also to HW, the article is from 2007 and the rules have changed since then..so I really hope this breeder does not exist anymore Thanks everyone for your advice! I really appreciate it
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post #10 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-15-2013, 01:05 PM
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Aww, she got adopted with one of her sisters, eh? I bet you were torn between being happy she was adopted but also wanting to have her with you to take home. Well, I will send good wishes her way (and her sister) that they hopefully got adopted by a very kind and loving person who will give them a good home.

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post #11 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-16-2013, 08:25 AM Thread Starter
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Yeah Vladina that's exactly how I feel! I just hope that the people who took her and her sister are kind and loving so they will have a wonderful life! I will be getting three mice by the end of the month so I'm excited about that! But I will still be wondering about the little sad rat in the petstore..
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post #12 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-16-2013, 04:03 PM
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Oh yes, I fully understand! I would be the kind of person who would still stop by the store every week for quite awhile, to see if the person who adopted her ended up bringing her back in or something similar. My husband and I both were really hoping that she got a good home. Keeping my fingers crossed. I am sure you got very attached to her and wanting to make sure all goes well for her. All the people on this forum love little furries so much, so I know everyone would feel the same way.

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post #13 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-17-2013, 11:13 PM
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Should you purchase pet rats from a pet store? Practically all pet experts will tell you to purchase a pet rat from a breeder. The problem is that there isn't always a reputable pet breeder near you. There is, however, a number of pet stores just down the street.


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post #14 of 14 (permalink) Old 01-18-2013, 09:03 AM
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Hey felisterjack,

Nice to meet you. I wrote up a resource for new rat owners on this subject in my blog if you're interested in looking it up.

But in short, if it's most important for you to have a rat bred with a smaller chance of avoidable behavioral and health related issues who are better socialized, you go with a reputable breeder. (key word being 'reputable', which takes some research to distinguish from back yard breeders because many back yard breeders pass themselves off as reputable).

If your strongest motivation for where you get your rat is an ethical one, in which you don't want to support avoidable breeding of animals who are already massively overbred and abused, then you only adopt. This can mean finding a reputable rat rescue, or looking on places like craiglist, freecycle, petfinder, etc. etc. These rats can be just as well bred and handled as reputable breeders, or not. But you'll be saving a life without contributing to a problem.

Your other option is just to go with a backyard breeder. Chances are they'll be well handled and socialized, even if they come from not so carefully selected stock. You may also end up paying more for a back yard breeder, because they sometimes are in it for the profit, so will charge more for some varieties.

If your number one goal is to have a pet rat without the wait or hassle, then you can easily find them at pet stores. However, the ease of finding them is exactly what ensures that you will have a high chance of unsocialized, traumatized, genetically aggressive or fearful, genetically weak/prone to sickness, diseased/sick, already pregnant pets. In other words, you might have a great pet experience, but you have a higher chance of a stressful and heartbreaking one as well...and you'll have paid to have more rats bred into the same conditions as the one you purchased.

I'll add that I myself would not be above purchasing a rat from a pet store, because I'm not a crusader for animals rights so much as some and I might just find one pair of bright little eyes I fall in love with at my local pet store. However, what would stop me more is that I would prefer not having to spend my time socializing a traumatized rat, or paying the potentially huge vet bills it will take to deal with all the upcoming health problems these rats are often saddled with.

Instead, I impatiently waited close to a year for a quality rat on a breeder waiting list, and drove 4 hours to get my rats. I was much happier in the long run, and paid so much less in vet bills.

I've also gotten my first 'rescue' rats (rats bred by but surrendered back to my breeder who I took in because she had developed health problems and we had developed a trusting friendship over the years), and had an equally wonderful experience.


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Last edited by Storyseeker; 01-18-2013 at 09:08 AM.
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