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.
Okay, let's get back into the groove of things, yeah? When I first started to do really in depth research on rats and ratteries around the country this was one that I cam across. My first impression: Arrogant. My second impression: Has reason to be. That and with my personality a first impression isn't always what lasts. I like to look at things two or three times before I make an actual judgement. It's what I feel is fair if I'm skeptical about something. So, while reading through the site over the past few days I've discovered that my initial impression was wrong and right at the same time. Right because yeah, the text does come off as arrogant. Wrong because this rattery has accomplished a lot and just plain text is not effective in conveying tone of voice (this is why we need a sarcasm font).
So, without further ado, let's start sniffing for treats around Camarattery based Southwest Denver, CO. By the way Cama, I see what you did there, haha.
The first thing you'll see on this site is the logo and a cute baby rat in a sleepy hat. The second thing, well organized links! It isn't a necessity for a rattery to have a website in my opinion, at least not a custom domain, but when they do, they should at least try to organize well. That was one thing I loved about Ravencharm's site in the previous Ratty Sniff. She makes it impossible to get lost on the site. Right on the front page at Cama is the story of how she started. She talks about starting a rattery in Colorado in a time when there were very few good breeders out there. Cama is the founder of the Colorado Rat List and the Association of Colorado Rat Enthusiasts which is partnered with AFRMA. Amy, the founder of Cama also judges at rat shows.
The specializations are few, self and downunder hooded with a blaze. For anyone curious, downunder rats are incredibly rare in the US as they originated in Australia (hence "down under") and down under simply means that the rats back markings are mirrored on their underside. Variegated back begets variegated belly and so on and so forth. While the specializations are few she does have many lines, all of which have dwarf incorporated. I would normally go off on a tangent about hairless rats, except in this case because of the fact that Amy has been breeding for over a decade and should have enough experience (hopefully) to know when an animal isn't healthy. There is a quote on the site that, "you get what you breed." It's true and this is why I won't throw a hissy fit like I normally would. I throw a hissy fit about irresponsible breeders that are breeding hairless (and length of breeding career does not determine whether a breeder is responsible or not, it's about practices). Same thing follows for the manx, if she didn't have the ten plus generations of rats and the twenty plus years breeding, I'd be far more uneasy about it.
The reason she doesn't count many of her lines as a specialty is because they aren't something she's worked with long enough to be a good representation of her rats.
She mentions diets and says she uses Harlan Teklad blocks for her rats as well as another dry mix. My huge problem with the mix is that it has raw peanuts in it which can cause massive health issues in rats.
She breeds dumbo and top eared, rex, velveteen, standard, hairless and silk coats (although the velveteen being listed with the same gene as rex is a pet peeve of mine). She breeds blues and russian blues. She breeds damn near everything including roan, which is pretty impressive to a new breeder like myself. My first impression was that the breeder was arrogant, but when I read through the words on the site I realize that a bit of my first impression was wrong. She does admit that there are things she doesn't know, but when she does know about something she lets people know. She still works with breeders and with AFRMA actively and even states in the nursery pages what she is looking for in the stages of breeding for a line. From health to conformation to temperament, she works on them in stages with health first and foremost in her efforts.
Before we move on let me quickly explain why I get peeved with people listing a velveteen rat (Cu/-) as a rex (Re/-). It's the same reason I have an issue with AFRMA listing Russian blues (rb/rb) as regular blues (d/d) genetically. Rexes are known for a few things, the biggest is the curl in their coat and lack of guard hairs as well as very curly whiskers. If you feel a rex coat it will feel coarse and will be very short, so short than you can see the skin under their coat and in double rexes they will look almost hairless. A velveteen is very different frm a rex in all of these aspects. Velveteen coats are long, thick and fluffy with wavy guard hairs. The whiskers do not have a curl, more of a wave. I own five velveteen rats and have owned one single rex, there is a significant difference. So much so that when I list my rats genetics in order to do litter predictions, those five that the theoretical Cu label instead of the established Re label rexes have. The differences are so vast that in my opinion from experience and research these coat types are not caused by the same gene.
She has at-home pickup hours clearly stated and tells why she won't hold specific babies and why people cannot come to "preview" her litters. The reason she has specific pickup hours is because the rest of her time goes to family, which is something I can respect a great deal.
So, let's see how she compares to our previous sniffs. Look here for reference.
Afterthought: Like I said, when I first came across this breeder, I thought she was very arrogant, upon further inspection, I realize that she has a bit of reason to be, but she really isn't. Confusing, yeah? She is very thorough in her lines and will openly admit that she doesn't know everything and that her lines are a work in progress. She's responsible and scrupulous in her practices which is something I can greatly respect.
*Amy contacted me and gave me the missing information. It seems that she does not adopt to anyone who does not agree to give back her rats if they cannot take care of them. She also guarantees a full refund or a replacement at the discretion of the adopter.