Ratty Sniff will be a series I'll be doing on any rattery I happen to come across that catches my attention. Either for the right or wrong reasons. Once I'm done with an overall evaluation, I'll be grading them on an F to A scale based on the Rat Adoption Guidelines that were listed out in a previous blog. It will be a simple positive/plus (+) or negative/minus (-) on each area of the list and depending on how well they score, they'll receive a grade accordingly. In the case of unknown information (unk) I'll count it as a negative/minus score as that information should be available on their site most of the time.
Today's rattery is Nicki's Rug-Rats Rattery located right in my backyard of Dayton, Ohio.
When I came across this rattery it was initially going to be the example rattery for the aforementioned rat adoption guidelines. When it hit about three am that morning, however, I realized I should probably nix the part with the rattery and just make a quick, easy to digest list for people.
The reason I had to get rid of the mini feature on the rattery was not only because of the time, but because of the fact that there was too much information to digest in such a short amount of words. So, without further ado, let's start sniffing around Nicki's Rug-Rats Rattery.
On facebook I am part of the group Rat Fan Club whose parent site of the same name was what really helped me formulate my list. I'm also a fan (liker?) of AFRMA's facebook page, which is where I actually stumbled upon Rug-Rats. Reading through her site, I wasn't floored in either wonder or disgust. Though there was a point in her description where she stated that she and her husband are trying to have children with no success so far and that she finds solace and joy in her rats' litters. She said "[She's] sure a shrink would tell [her] it's bad." I'm inclined to agree. This leads to a slew of issues on both the rats' end and on the human end.
Human: replacing your own potential children with those of your rats' can stress your marriage just like any other replacement method could, by doing replacement like this you can end up ignoring your own potential reproductive problems (such as PCOS and other female-related causes, or infertility on either end) which you need to see a doctor to resolve, when you're replacing anything you need the replacement to be constant or to last just as long as the original situation would (in the case of having children, this would indeed mean a permanent fix) which can lead to a disregard of what's best for the rats and not only you.
Rats: Without an objective perspective does can easily be over-bred (does should be bred a maximum of three times in their life), does are subject to the same health problems that women are when they have too many children, over-breeding isn't just a matter of too many litters but is a matter of age as well (does should not be bred after they reach one year of age if they've not had a litter previously), certain biological traits just should not be bred (hairless [sphinx] and tailless [manx], rats that have been ill in any way) because this puts the rats and kittens at health risks they would otherwise not have to endure and without an objective mind set it's easy to overlook things like that.
The very first complaint I had about Rug-Rats while talking to Ben was the fact that she plans on specializing in breeding hairless rats. Now, having mentioned the fact that this is a genetic deformity (which is why many responsible breeders won't breed them) and breeding should be done for health and temperament first and foremost, why would you then breed an animal that is born with this trait?
Let me explain, I know a lot of naked-ratty lovers will be very upset with this statement. Rats have fur for a few reasons one being that it's their first line of defense for regulating body temperature. This is why when the kittens are first born ("pinkie" stage) they have to be with their Momma or if orphaned need some way to be warmed as they themselves cannot do it. Fur also helps protect the skin from being dried out and starting to crack and bleed (when the skin does this it is one way you know that your rats can have a protein intolerance or other skin-related issues that would keep them from being bred). Fur can also help protect a rats' health as it can keep things like feces and other dirt from getting in open wounds (not to mention keeping germs out of their delicate systems).
Moving on from that I found another issue which is inexcusable for a few reasons:
Decision to Close off the Rattery to VisitorsI am posting this on the home page as most people just skim through my site. I have had to make the very hard decision to close off the rattery to visitors for the time being! We are looking for a new home. One which either has two floors or a finished basement so I can allow people into my home once more. As I live in an apt. right now, the air moves very fast and freely to my rat room. I was letting people come in to the sunroom of my apt. to see and pick out their new ratties and as a result, my own rats started to develop respiratory infections. They can get it through the air and contact. You never know what you can carry on you, even though it may not effect you, rats are very sensitive. We, ourselves have very few personal visitors as a result of this also. Ever since I decided to meet people elsewhere or even take just a few rats outside that people are interested in, My rats have been healthy and no infections since I closed. So im sorry for the inconvenience right now, but it is in the best interest of my rats as well as the ones you would like to adopt that I do this until we find a more spacious and divided home. Thank you for your understanding and patience. But like I said, it doesn't mean you can't look at them in person, just not inside the apt.!!!
If your rats have become sick due to the potential adopters bringing in illness, then make it a requirement for people to wear freshly cleaned clothing, tie hair back if necessary and wear bags over their shoes. I know apartment space can be cramped but there are areas where you can put sick rats if you need to separate them. You can put them: in the bathroom, in a closet in a room other than your nursery, in your room, in any room other than your nursery and make sure that room remains closed off to everyone except the person giving those rats medication and then be sure they take a shower or at the very least change clothing and wash their hands and other areas of exposed skin. You can also get an air filter that is made to remove bacteria and allergens from the air it filters.
Another issue is that if you're rats become sick due to potential adopters bringing in illness then you should not be breeding right now. If your rats become sick at all, you need to stop breeding for at least two months to make sure they are completely healthy and over the infecting. Most anti-biotics require two weeks to a full month of treatment and then you need to wait at least double the time of required dosing to make sure the infection doesn't return.
A missing piece of information that troubles me deeply is how many times does are bred. She never states this from what I can see, all she says is that she has 3-4 litters a month (this was on her facebook page, not even her main site). This seems highly unusual considering that does should not be bred more than three times in their life (most breeders stop after two). Also, if apartment space is so cramped that you cannot separate your rats when they're sick to keep the breeding does from becoming ill then how in the world do you have enough room to have so many breeding does as to have 3-4 litters a month? I mean, really? Ben just brought up the fact that she may not be separating the nursing mothers. This can be incredibly dangerous for the babies. While some mothers may not have a problem exchanging nursing duties others mothers will become incredibly territorial and may either kill the "rival" mother's kittens or even more horrific of a thought, if one mother decides a kitten is hers when in fact it may not be, the original mother may step in and try to take the kitten back. This results in a tug of war in which kittens can be maimed or killed.
To her credit, she does participate in rescue organizations, she does have a contract and she does have a form of reimbursement (although it isn't one that I personally like and I'll explain that later) and she will take back the babies she adopts out if you cannot take care of them. She also states that no rats of hers are to be bred without prior agreement.
About the reimbursement plan, this is how it reads:
Disclaimer and Health GaranteeYour Rat/s will come with 14 day health guarantee! This begins when the rat leaves from mine or my partner's possesion! This does not cover the rat being dropped, stepped on, attacked by another animal or other such injuries! Also does not cover if you do not properly quarantine your new rat/s from your current rats or critters upon recieving them for at least one week.
This doesn't sound like a good reimbursement or health plan at all. First she says that she will not cover any kind of accident or if the rat is not quarantined (what's most ironic is that she got the quarantine time incorrect, it should be two weeks). To me, it seems like what she's doing here is putting up the fallacy of a health guarantee. She's putting it out there for show but then has all of these catches that in a commercial would be said by a guy who sounds like he's running an auction on antiques in a show from the 1970's.
Overall, certain small things do not redeem this rattery. Another issue I'm having is that her site is far too disorganized for me to be able to find half the things I need. The notice of her shutting the rattery doors is so far down and is still not at the bottom of the page.
Grading (refer to this blog):
Rule One: -
Rule Three: +
Rule Four: +
Rule Five: -
Rule Six: +
Rule Seven: unk
Rule Eight: unk
Rule Nine: unk
Rule Ten: +
Rule Eleven: -
Rule Twelve: -
Rule Thirteen: -
Grade: 38% F
Final Comment: I do not trust this rattery at all, nothing has really hit me very well or made me rethink whether or not she could be responsible.