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Hmm, touchy topic it seems

3230 Views 16 Replies 10 Participants Last post by  2manyrats
I was wondering what everyones opinions are on feeders as pets. I know from a few posts I've read here that most people do not wish to discuss feeders, but they are rats too aren't they? Most of my rats have come from feeder sections of pet shops. Are they more prone to disease or something? The shop I go to has a few ladies that breed the rats and care for them. They have a huge breeding program there and at any time they might have upwards of 100+ rats ranging in all walks of life. Most of my rats have come from there. The ladies will take out any dumbos or extremely well marked, or well behaved rats and put them into the pet community for sale as pets.

Anyway I saw a few people say "Never buy a feeder as a pet!" and I just wonder why. They've always made as great of a pet for me as a breeder raised pet from a private owner. But there could be something very important I'm missing! I live in a rural area and finding rat breeders is very difficult without having to drive for an hour to get to them. I don't have air conditioning in my car and it gets -really- hot here so I don't dare take my ratties in the car. I usually just get my rats from the local shop. There is a petsmart and a petco in town, but I don't really like their rats, they seem to never get any hands on experience while they are caged there. I've got a rat from petco before and it took a long time to tame him, and he still isn't as "human happy" as the rest of my ratties.
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twitch, you've made a lot of good points.

All of my rats are either pet store rats/one generation from the pet store/rescues/accidental litters. I don't know the ages of several of them, but the oldest ones are probably 1.5 years. I'm deathly afraid that I'm going to end up with spontaneous deaths and massive malignant tumors. I've already got tons of URIs to deal with!

Twice everyday I give 5 (out of 12) rats antibiotics for terrible URI problems. Some of my rats have damaged lungs, resulting from *awful* respiratory problems from birth. There's nothing more heartbreaking than a 2.5 to 3 week old ratty sneezing, rasping, and gurgling when it breathes... and those rats have ended up stunted in their growth because their lungs couldn't keep up with the oxygen demands of a growing rat body.

As it is, I medicate my rats with medication that I've purchased and compounded myself. My vet is okay with that - and he helps me with dosages and treatment plans for each rat through periodic visits & the telephone. If I didn't do things this way, the cost of supporting all of these rats would be astronomical. Fortunately I spent a lot of time in a lab as a kid and I'm very comfortable compounding meds.

There's no guarantee that a well-bred rat won't have these problems - but well-bred rats are a heck of a better gamble than that cute bright-eyed guy in the feeder bin. I've partially ended up with so many pet store rats because there weren't any breeders where I previously lived (and I'm pretty sure there aren't any in my new city) - but honestly, it's more than worth it to drive a few hours or have rats shipped to you than deal with the problems that come from feeder rats.

Finally, two of my recent additions are two boys resulting from an accidental litter, but their parents were both bred by a respectable breeder in Chicagoland. These boys are *so* friendly and such beautiful rats that I'm sold - I will never be purchasing a rat from a pet store ever again. It's a horrible business that I don't want to support.
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