If all goes according to plan, we'll soon be bringing home a pair of young rats. (These will technically be for our daughter, but obviously, I expect to be heavily involved in their care, as well, & I think my husband & I are just as excited about getting them as our daughter is!). We have all the necessary supplies -- now it's just time to get the rats themselves. I've been a bit of a maniac about online research over the past couple months in an effort to learn everything I can about our little ones before we bring them home, & have seen a lot of info about picking the right rat. One big concern I have is about so-called "backyard breeders." I know a lot of people on this forum will tear a suspected BYB to pieces, but I guess I'm a little unclear about what truly makes someone a BYB. Is anyone who doesn't carry a ARMA membership card a BYB? If they sell anything besides pedigreed animals with long known lineages, are they a BYB?? I'm looking for PET rats, & have zero intention of ever breeding my animals, so is it still a bad idea to adopt from someone who has a few pets that they occasionally breed? I mean, I would never purchase from a mill, but if these animals are well-loved, handled, & brought up in a home environment (NOT racks) to be pets (NOT feeders), isn't that better than buying from a pet shop? I've only been able to find ONE ARMA-recognized breeder in my area, & I almost purchased from her, but after a lot of back & forth communication, i guess someone else put down a deposit on the girl I most wanted the very same day I decided to seal the deal! (The breeder offered me another female that she was considering keeping, but I think I offended her when I said that I preferred the pet quality girl over one that she considered good enough to be breeding stock. I get that, but at the same time, Im looking for a PET, & the pet one had cuter markings!! Anyway, I'm pretty sure I upset her, because she suddenly became very curt instead of friendly, & when I inquired about future litters, she told me she had a very long waiting list & wouldn't have anything available.). The other breeders I've talked to are hobbiest with a few rats and/or rescues with abandoned litters, & though they don't offer pedigrees, they really seem to love their rats. Do I just ignore the pedigree snobs & go for it, or will I regret not driving 500 miles to get pets from better lines? We're thinking about visiting a couple of these "BYBs" this weekend, so any tips about what to avoid would be helpful.