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Snobbery in the Rat World

The world of pet rats, also called “fancy rats”, is surprisingly vast and interesting. Rats make excellent small, friendly and entertaining companions. Rat owners can be extremely enthusiastic about their beloved rats. Some of the best and most interesting rats come from breeders, where registered rats are selectively bred in “ratteries” and raised lovingly by hand. Special traits are selected and enhanced through breeding, like “dumbo” rats, meaning rats with larger than normal ears.
Pet stores also carry rats, though generally not so carefully bred and lovingly handled. Pet store rats may not be as friendly and interactive with people, and can be highly inbred. Often pet store rats are “feeders” – used for snakes. Ideally, pet rats should be acquired from breeders or the more attentive pet stores.

A little more about pet rats - typically the breed Rattus norvegicus, the Norwegian or brown rat, are kept as pets. These are the rats bred by breeders and found in pet stores, as well as the rats used in laboratories, and also found in the wild. Norwegian rats are larger and more aggressive than black rats, like Eek, and have more or less crowded them out, taking over much of the world from Eek's kin.

Breeders within the area were contacted in search of a companion for Eek. Most breeders sell their rats only in pairs, in order to ensure companionship. However, in our case, only one rat was needed. When in communication with a breeder, once it was conveyed that there already was one rat, inevitably they wanted to know about that one rat, to assess whether this was a good “family” for their beloved baby. Upon hearing that my one rat was a black or roof rat (called a “roofie”), many breeders stopped communicating all together. Only one breeder, located in San Francisco, was open to consider letting us have one of her babies, but only after she consulted with several of her rat loving friends, some of which had had positive encounters with “roofies”. However, she unfortunately did not have any babies currently available for adoption.

Time was running out – rats grow from baby to adult in 6 months. To introduce a pair of rats while young, I needed to find another young rat and quickly.

After exhausting all other options, a young pet rat was simply bought from a more reputable pet store. She is a “hooded” Norwegian rat – meaning she has a black head and white body. Originally half of Eek’s size, and about a month younger, she quickly adapted and grew.

The first picture of Eeks new friend

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Blog_post | by Dr. Radut