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Hello! My name is Krista and I'm from Saskatchewan Canada. It looks like I might be getting rats tonight, a woman on kijiji really needs to re-home her three girls and my friend is in the city today so hopefully it works out. Now I'm not going to lie; I am getting these rats to work them in barn hunt. Barn hunt is a dog sport where there are three (very safe and secure) tubes in the ring; one is empty, one has rat litter and one has a rat. The ring is filled with bales of straw and the tubes hidden, the dog must find and indicate the tube with the rat. There are lots of rules in this sport about rat safety, including switching them often and always having someone in the ring to handle the rat.

Now all that said, I do want these rats to have the best life I can offer them so I'll be reading the forum lots.
 

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I would have to agree with PawsandClaws, There is a very good likelihood that the owner would not want their pet rat used in this way, Whilst they are "safe" can you imagine how they are going to feel when they can hear and smell a dog.. Even though they can't see it, I can only imagine how stressful that might be.
 

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I understand that the tubes are 'safe and secure' but the presence of a predator - especially when the rat is trapped - can be extremely distressing to them. If these rats have been previously living in a good home they will be quite trusting of humans, I think if you break this trust you may never get it back. My rats usually freak out if they can smell a dog on my, let alone if I trapped them in a ring with one. However I do not know much about any kind of dog sports, especially this one. Maybe you could explain more?
 

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My roommates mom wanted one of Delilahs pups for this. I said no after seeing the condition the rat was in after the "hunt". He was completely covered in fear poop and pee and his breathing was erratic and eyes bulging. I wouldnt want someone to do that to my pets.
 

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I've heard from one competitor that she trialed in the USA and was horrified how the rats were treated so I don't blame you guys for your reaction. All the rats that I've seen used in barn hunt up here were not scared at all. They are introduced to the tubes as a cozy sleeping area and most of them just sleep during their time in the ring, I've never heard one make a sound. If one of these rats proves to be scared I wouldn't use her; I have no interest in tramatizing one of them. I do have two dogs so they will be used to the scent but I'll be keeping a babygate on the door to where the rats are to insure their safety.
 

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Are these rats ex pets? If so, I really don't recommend this. Coming from a loving home then being used as bait seems a bit of an extreme contrast. And just because a rat doesn't make noise, doesn't mean that they are not scared. With rats being prey animals, I don't think making noise when trying to be as quiet as possible towards whatever is hunting you while being in an enclosed environment is really a survive tactic....
And paws, that was awful, that rat looked on edge and terrified.
 

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I don't understand why any animal lover would compete in a sport that puts an animal in a potential comprimising and stressful situation. I 100% can see that you believe the rats will be safe and that other than their participation in this sport you intend to give them good care and love, I just don't believe any animals should be used for 'sport'. I know you've said that if the rat seems distressed then you won't use her, but rats usually don't make any sound when they are frightened as this would alert a predator to their location. Scared rats get low to the floor, pin their ears back and retreat into the smallest gap they can. A rat will also fear poo and wee everywhere, please look out for these signs if you do continue with your plans. Obviously as well just keep in mind that this is a pet forum, so for many of us here the idea of our beloved little ratties being used for something like this is hard to accept!
 

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I have to again quickly agree with ADeliek. I am sure that the people who take this sport so seriously breed their own rats for this, Ones that are used to this kind of pressure and destress. A pet rat going from being a pet to being put in a tube & used as bait to get a squealy dog to "get it" just doesn't seem at all fair.

& as far as that video; ugh is all I can say.
 

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I will say that I volunteered for Earth Dog Trials out here in California, & I saw what those rats went through, It was horrible. They might not seem like they are stressed but they were pulled by their tails, clinging to the sides of the tubes constantly, I, very rarely saw them sleeping. Just not a nice thing to have them go through. It's been proven that using just rat urine scent works identically as using a real rat.
 

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I didnt think it was legal to use an animal as any form of bait in "sport"? Because being safe or not they are bait. Why does this sport not use a rat toy or scented object? They, to my knowledge, dont use live animals as bait in greyhound races, at least that I have seen. They just need somthing that has the same effect. I havnt watched the video or ever heard of this before but it seems cruel to the rat. Yes some will not mind, some get used it it and become desensitized, but for most its just not kind or fair to them. Especially for rats who are used to a life as pets. These are very intelligent animals, more so then most dogs I'd say. So they will be very aware of the change and you will tramatize them more then likely.
 

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As much as I abhor animals being used for any kind of sport, if OP is genuinely set on using the rats for this purpose, I hope she sticks around the forum for advice, despite the opposition she is recieving.

The forum is a great source of information and support for learning about these wonderful little animals. If the baiting is happening anyway, then at least we can provide information to help these rats have the best lives possible despite the less than ideal purpose that they are being acquired for.
 

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Oh my gods that poor rat. Just flung around in a small wire cage. :( ok that wasnt done when I saw it with Kayla my roommates moms dog that was in the "game". I just saw them afterwards when they were scared out of there minds and covered in poops
 

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I also hope they stick around. We are only upset because we want what is in the best interest of the rats. I am just unsure if there really is a humane way of doing this is all.
 

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I can understand very well why people are upset. We know rats well here, and we know that to be put in such a situation will cause a great deal of stress, fear and confusion for these small animals.
It is a privilege to open your home to any animal, and once you do so you have a duty of care. Pet rats, as with all pets, are at our mercy, they depend on us completely for food, shelter and a clean safe environment to live in. They are intelligent beings who grow to love their owners, and trust us to protect and care for them. I think its unfair to take advantage of them in this way.

However, if it is going to happen despite our protestations, then hopefully with our help OP can ensure that they have the best housing, food, attention and care when they are not being used for this purpose.
 

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I will say this, if you get these rats you first have to be getting them because you want them as a pet, then once you have them you need to see their personalities and see if you really think they could do it by then if your still considering the barn hunting, then you need to really work on training them so that they are ok and comfortable with the whole set up and not just put in the tube randomly and have a dog trying to find them.

Along with that for proper care they need a big cage, lots of toys, hammocks, a good quality food I recommend oxbow rat food, I have a Double critter nation cage for y five girls, that cage or a similar one even one smaller like half the size would be good for yours just the more space the better.


With the contests you need to make sure everyone you go to is the best that it can be and the safest for your pet rats, if it doesn't look safe an your rat has a high risk of being hurt then I would just leave and not do it. When traveling you need a safe way of transporting your rats a carrier for them that if they can climb they can't fall far enough that they will get hurt ideally one that they can't climb, away to get water either water or watery foods, food so they don't get hungry, something to hide in/ sleep in.
If where you go that rats will be waiting for a while make sure the carrier if you plan on using that for them while you wait is just as comfortable as you can make it for them.

I'm not against the barn hunting but you really need to want these rats as pets way before thinking about bran hunting so that the rats are being cared for and that you are insuring that they will be safe.


Sent from Petguide.com Free App
 

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I think you both made very good points. I would like to add that I hope OP anticipates that it may take a long time for their rats to be comfortable with the setting (if at all) and hopefully they still give them a great home as pets.
 
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