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Thread: Rescue Red Flags

  1. #1

    Default Rescue Red Flags

    [color=red]Rat Rescue Red Flags

    This is a list of flags, or things that should evaluated, when choosing to support a rescue. Many of these are opinion, which is why explanation is included, so you can decide for yourself. Some of these may have reasonable explanations, and some carry more weight than others, so if you encounter what may be a red flag, look into it further. What is important is to critically evaluate a rescue to make sure they are a place you would want to support. Rescues should only be supported if they are working towards the animal’s best interest.

    1. Also breeds rats:
    Breeding rats and actively running a rescue is a conflict of interest. Both require an immense amount of time and money. It is hard enough to do either by its self. There is also the issue of quarantine, which rats take priority, etc. A breeder can help out a rescue so long as they do not put their own rats at risk, but should not be running both.

    2. Sells rats for feeders:
    An ethical rescue cares about each and every one of their rats, and cares about what happens to them. Rescues take responsibility for their rats. Selling for feeders can also be a way to get rid of rats they would rather not get veterinary care for or work with, which is unacceptable.

    3. Adopts out rescued rats for breeding purposes:
    Rescues would never allow their rats to be bred from. It is unethical to breed rescues because they are from unknown backgrounds. Rescues deal with the overpopulation of rats due to careless breeding, so would never support the unethical breeding of rats.

    4. Doesn't have an adoption application, interview or adoption contract:
    Rescues care about what happens to their animals after they leave, so they want to ensure that they find the best homes possible. Without screening potential adopters, not only can they not be sure that the rat will receive proper housing, veterinary care, or food, but the rat may end up abused, neglected, or right back in a rescue. Ideally a rescue should ask about veterinary care, housing, food, socialization, and permission to have rats, among other aspects of their suitability. You should also find out how many applications they deny and why. There is no perfect number, but, if they approve everyone who applies, they may not be adequately screening adopters. Remember, rescues are not trying to be nosy, they are trying to ensure that their rats find a good home!

    5. Doesn't quarantine properly and/or doesn't encourage quarantine of adopted rats:
    Quarantine is very important with rats in countries such as the U.S. due to the existence of deadly airborne viruses that are so easily spread. Rescues should quarantine their rats, and encourage adopters to do the same, for the sake of the rats.

    Note: This does not apply to rescues that are in countries that do not have viruses such as Sendai, SDA, etc.

    6. Cannot provide veterinary references:
    A rescue should have a good working relationship with one or more vet, as rescuing is guaranteed to involve veterinary trips. If a rescue cannot provide a reference, they may not be proving veterinary care.

    7. Expects donations to cover all of rats’ care:
    Rescues, while deserving of donations, know that they will not receive enough donations to cover all care, and will not expect as much. Rescues frequently pay out of pocket for their rats’ veterinary care, food, and housing.

    8. Has frequent accidental litters (in-rescue):
    Frequent accidental litters in rescue means that they are not being responsible with their rats. It can also be an indication that they are breeding, in which case, see #1.

    9. Only ever seems to have highly desirable types of rats for adoption:
    While rescues do get some of the more “desirable” varieties of rats, such as litters of hairless, dumbos, blue blazed, etc., most ethical rescues are not swarming with litters of such rats all year. If a rescue only ever has “desirable” rats, most of which are babies, it is possible that they are breeding, in which case see #1. It is also possible that this indicates they are choosing which rats to rescue based solely on color.

    10. “Rescues" rats by purchasing them from pet stores, backyard or feeder breeders, feeder bins, or expos:
    Rescues understand that purchasing rats dooms more rats to horrible lives. They have seen, and deal with on a daily basis, the overpopulation due to such unethical sources of rats.

    11. Charges more for certain types/varieties of rats:
    Rescues know that black hoodeds make just as good a pet as blue blazed dumbos. Furthermore, they are not looking to make money off of the more “desirable” varieties, they are just looking to find good homes for their rats.

    12. Doesn’t provide for basic needs of rats:
    Ethical rescues know that there is no excuse for not providing proper case, and would never keep their rats in dirty overcrowded tanks, feed them inadequate food, or not provide veterinary care. It is not rescuing if their rats need rescuing from them. Rescues should know what rats require and be prepared to provide it for rats they take in.

    13. Knowingly adopts out sick or aggressive rats without full disclosure:
    Rescues should try to find the perfect match for each family. Knowingly adopting an aggressive or sick rat to an unsuspecting person can result in that person feeling overwhelmed, the rat being neglected, the rat being put down, the rat being dumped at a shelter, etc. Rescues care about the best interests of their rats and adopters, so will give you as much information about their rats as they have.

    14. Does not keep lines of communication open post-adoption:
    Rescues should be happy to hear how your rat is doing and willing to help you out with any post-adoption issues. Rescues shouldn’t be looking to move animals like a product and forget about them when they leave; they should care about the well being of their rats for the long term.

    15. Adopts out rats through pet stores (NOT NECESARRILY A FLAG):

    Adopting out through pet stores can be done responsibly. Adopting out through a pet store that sells other animals that can spread disease to them is not acceptable, however. If a pet store does not sell any animals or adopt out other animals that pose a disease risk to their animals, they must be extra careful with screening. Screening eliminates most unsuitable homes, and prevents people from getting rats as an impulse purchase.

    16. Keeps more animals than can reasonably be cared for by the rescue's resources:
    Rescues should know their limits, and no that they will sometimes have to say no. It is a hard thing to deal with, but rescues responsibility is first and foremost to the rats already in their care. When they take in a rat it is their responsibility. Rescues realize the damage that is done to rats when well-meaning people take in more animals than they can properly care for.

    17. Will not or cannot take back adopted rats:
    Rescues make a commitment to each rat they take in: the commitment to find that rat a good home. This possibility should be considered when deciding their limit.

    Co-written by Smesyna and Blackthorn of Huron Valley Rat Rescue

    This website may be linked, but the material may not be printed/reproduced without permission.

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  3. #2
    Little Fuzzy Rubber Duck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Manteno, IL


    If the person with the rat sends you a picture, Google the file name, including the file extension. If the photo is embedded in an e-mail, play dumb and ask the person to send it as an attachment so you can see it's file name. If you find the image anywhere else on the internet, somewhere other than a RECENT post on a rat forum, ... major red flag. YOU could be the one in danger.

  4. #3
    Administrator Jaguar's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    BC, Canada


    Why do you say that?

    Rest well Matilda, Rufus, Oliver, Sebastian, Miles, Leno, Gabby, Ona, Cami, Luna, Blue boy, Fuzzy boy, Benjamin, and Bernard.

  5. #4
    Little Fuzzy Rubber Duck's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2012
    Manteno, IL


    Quote Originally Posted by Jaguar View Post
    Why do you say that?
    Just the general "meeting strangers from the internet" thing. Especially if it's a Craigslist ad. You know,... psycho serial killers and stuff. If somebody says they have a rat (or any animal or object) to give away or sell, and the photo they send was swiped from some random website, it's a major red flag.

    My dad is in TN taking care of my grandma and doesn't have regular internet access at her house. Last week he wanted me to find him a cheap pickup truck in the Nashville area. One of the Craigslist ads I found, with my knowledge of Ford Rangers, I could tell that the photo in the ad was an '88 but the ad said it was an '86. I got suspicious and asked for another picture in an e-mail. I Googled the file name and found the exact same photo on Wikipedia. I didn't even bother telling my dad about it. I figured it was either a "bait & switch" scam or it was some kind of homicidal axe-wielding maniac.

  6. #5


    Yeah, I live in Hampton Roads, Virginia, and there are a bunch of scams going on in the pet section of craigslist. Everything from animal hoarders, to people stealing dogs and selling them for a high rehoming fee...just be careful out there. I also have heard about a few breeders (rats and a snake breeder) who had their houses broken in to after having people meet them at their house to recieve pets. I am considering revising my policy on this. It's asking for trouble. The person gets to see what kinds of things you have in your home, the layout, whether you have alarms, and often even figures out your schedule when you are discussing meeting times with them. Are people less likely to adopt from a rescue if they come over and have a look?

    Home of: Lucy, Ichiban, Wrinkles, Fluffy, Bailey, Mr Peepers and many foster babies.

  7. #6


    So this gives a lot of tips about how to select a rescue and making wise choices. In light of recent difficulty finding a shelter for a coworkers accidental litter I have been considering setting up a rescue in my area in the future (probably in just under a year since I want to make sure I have everything properly staged for this prior to accepting new rats). That way other people won't have as much of a challenge finding somewhere to take their rats as I did. Also it would provide an opportunity for people to find rats humanely since there is no place to go right now other than a center that breeds feeder rats and a couple of pet stores (I wouldn't be breeding them, people would only be able to get rescued rats). Is there any advice or guidance that can be given for setting this up?

  8. #7
    Squishy Laprat Maltey's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Courtney and the ever-growing mischief

  9. #8


    Yeah I already read that article, and while it gives some good advice the information is kind of generalized. For example, cost awareness is good to be aware of, but what is a reasonable amount to ask as far as adoption/ drop-off fees are concerned (and would it make sense to have a small cost increase for rats that have been in my center for a longer period of time to help offset some of the longer term maintenance)? How many rooms should I have so I can dedicate space to quarantine and house separately? None of the nearby areas for purchasing quality rat food (I use Oxbow Regal) provide the larger bags, is there a way to get this supplied in bulk? When taking in a rat is it better to always get the rat neutered/ spayed or should I leave some untreated for rat enthusiasts that want to breed/ maintain show rats (and if some are left untreated what qualities should I look for so that I can better provide for those clients)? Are there any laws I need to be aware of for getting this established (aside from tax laws)? Do most centers accept both male and female or just one gender? Should I balance a schedule where I only accept rats for a certain number of weeks and then stop accepting them while I do a complete quarantine (making sure that any rats moved over to the final housing are not carrying diseases from the most recent drop-off; and allowing me to clear out the quarantine zone all at the same time before allowing new drop-offs in)? If someone is dropping off an accidental litter at what age should the babies be before I consider them for acceptance? What kind of questions do I need to be asking on my application for dropping off and for adopting? I was kind of hoping to find an official guide on "Setting up a Rat Rescue: This is Exactly How You Do It".

  10. #9
    Zooming Fuzlet rileys-mom's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2014


    Reading through the list I was proud to see the rescue group I'm involved with passed with flying colors.

  11. #10
    Pink Eeper
    Join Date
    Mar 2014


    I run a rat rescue, I am seriously thinking about shutting down just due to ignorant humans.. I applause rat rescues.. We do not get enough credit!

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