One Rat at a Time
By: Diane Nesom, Rattie Ratz founder
Rattie Ratz: Rescue, Resource, and Referral began in 1998, purely by accident! I had moved away from home for college and desperately wanted a pet for the room I was renting. I didn’t have a lot of space so I knew I needed a small animal, and I wasn’t sure what was going to happen after college so I needed a pet with a shorter life expectancy.
I started researching rats, mice, and hamsters and quickly realized that I wanted a rat. They were intelligent, less likely to bite than hamsters, more affectionate than mice, as clean (or cleaner) than cats and trainable, just like dogs. A rat was the best of all pets rolled into one!! I had also learned that they were extremely social so getting two was the best idea.
Armed with all of my new knowledge, I was very excited when I finally decided to get my first pair of rats. My housemate had given me a nice starter cage for my birthday and I ran down to the local Petco, and bought my first pet rats (not knowing any better at the time, that pet shops are the worst place to get a pet). I took them home and left them to acclimate to their new home and surroundings.
The next day, I went into their cage to feed them and “OUCH!” I was bitten. During the next five days I was bitten at least a dozen times. The rats I had gotten had not been handled or socialized and were in no way tame at all. Being a novice, I had no idea what to do so I sadly decided to return them to Petco.
I was devastated.
Those two rats were the exact opposite of everything that I had read. Thoroughly confused, I called the Peninsula Humane Society. They educated me about the horrible abuse and neglect that animals at pet stores receive and encouraged me to visit the humane society to adopt my first pair of rats. Still saddened by my first experience with rats, I headed over to the humane society to see who they had available. Although they didn’t have any babies, I ended up being adopted by 2 adult females who ran up my arm, into my hair, and didn’t want to be left behind.
With my new charges in tow, I returned home to spend time with my new buddies. Soon I realized that there is a wealth of misinformation regarding rats. People seemed to think pet rats were the same as wild, sewer rats! I quickly started a website in an effort to correct some of the misinformation and I put up lots of stories about my rats. Soon, people were emailing me looking for rat rescues because they needed to surrender their beloved pet rats, for one reason or another. I thought, “What a great idea! A rescue just for rats.” There are rescues for dogs and cats, so I quickly started looking for local rat rescues. Unfortunately, all of the places I found were no longer doing rat rescue and I returned the emails with the sad news.
Some of the people I never heard from again, but a few people responded back by thanking me for my time and asking if I would consider taking their rats … And so the saga began!