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I know that a lot of people here are against pet store rats, but I was wondering what you thought of the rats at PetSmart. The only reason that I ask is because my Uncle works for corporate PetSmart, and he runs a lot of the grooming/Pet Hotel/Small animal sales in the Chicago area. I was talking to him about pet store rats today, and he told me a lot that surprised me about PetSmart.

I knew that each rat was "Vet Checked", but I didn't know how much that actually meant... appearently, each of the rats visits a vet AT LEAST once before they can ever be taken home. And if a rat gets sick while they're on the floor, they're taken into the back... and then taken to see a vet. That surprised me, because I figured a lot of Pet Stores would just euthanize an animal that was sick and injured.

Also, I know that PetSmart makes people sign a contract, which basically states that the rat will not be used as a feeder. And I've been told that they tend to jack up their prices, just to discourage people from using their rats as feeders.

I have heard, however, that their rats come from rat mills. Basically, I was just wondering how bad PetSmart really is. The only reason I ask is because three of my girls are from there (I had no idea about rescues or breeders before hand). I guess I just want to know what I'm in for as they get older :?
 

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Petsmart rats do come from mills. So while some PMs are a LOT better than others (or than other pet stores), the rats don't come from the best environment/breeding standards.

It's hard to say what you have to look forward to, but I will tell you about the 4 pet store (all from PM, 2 from Miami, FL, 2 from here in Cincinnati) rats I have had...

3 of the 4 are dead and one is slipping away.

1 died from fluid in the lungs. The vet at the time said it was probably genetic CHF. He was about a year when he died.

1 had what appeared to be multiple strokes. He slipped into a coma-like state. We held out for a few days (desperate), but he passed away despite treatment. He was about a year and 4 months.

1 suffered from Cardiomyopathy from the day we got him. We had a few months where he'd do okay, but most of his life, he was sick and suffering. He grew weaker and weaker, despite treatment, and died at 7 months old.

And that leaves 1 left. He, too, is suffering from Cardiomyopathy. He doesn't eat much anymore, doesn't do much anymore... He has trouble breathing and his heart races constantly. Despite treatment, he's slipping. :( He is about a year old.

So, basically? 3 out of the 4 had/have genetic diseases that shortened their lives. This, of course, can be blamed on bad breeding. The strokes, I'm not sure if we can say is genetic... But it's concerning none the less, especially since he wasn't very old.

YMMV. It's luck of the draw with rats that came from mills.

Also, from what I understand (from talking to many people who have or do work at Petsmarts both online and off), that not all stores follow what they're supposed to, as far as corporate rules. :? I know that some have great employees/managers, some don't. The one near us care for the animals well (at least, on-par with Petsmart rules, but that of course includes feeding Kaytee blocks, and those tiny cages, but they DO give fresh veggies, have clean cages and provide at least an igloo), but then pick up the rats by the tails (as they did with the 2 we got). :( Yet, someone I know that works at a store elsewhere says they're told never to do that, so I don't know. Some Petsmarts don't actually seek vet care for sick rats, and some DO dispose of them it not nice ways. :x It really does seem to be a case-by-case basis, and I don't know if PM doesn't check all the stores enough, or what. Employees also don't always know what they're talking about, and give pretty awful advice on the average, as many new-owners who followed the advice of the employees often find out and have to purchace all new items (to the benefit of the store, of course!). Sigh!

I'm not *against* pet store rats, btw. Nope, not even as a rescue. Because if I was, I'd never take any pet store rats in (which 99.9% of all rescues ARE). ;) I know what you mean, though. It's not the rats themselves that are the problem, it's buying them (and shopping at the stores) puts money back in the pockets of the mills, and opens spots for more rats to be in the same situation. Don't want to start a debate about it here, but that's the problem people have - the mills and the conditions of animals in pet stores. They don't want to support that.
 

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Petco does the same thing about taking sick animals to the back then getting them vet checked. It's strictly against all policies for us to euthanize an animal--even when there's no chance of it surviving. That doesn't mean that some stores run by awful people don't do that, but it is a HUGE no-no if they do, and if they're reported they can get in heaps of trouble for it.

The Petsmart here doesn't sell rats, and the breeder we get them from at this Petco sucks majorly...Not only do they send us sick rats, they send us other animals who are sick as well, like Hamsters and Guinea Pigs. I don't know if we're going to find a new breeder to get our rats from, but I know the sickness issue is pissing off a few of my coworkers, including myself of course.

Bare in mind though that all Petcos and Petsmarts are not the same. Animals get shipped to us from local breeders, so a Petco in Virginia doesn't get rats from the same breeder as a Petco in Washington state. Infact, in Washington we rarely--if ever--got sick rats at Petco. I had never seen a rat with Porphyrin before I transferred to the one I work at now, but now we see them all the time. *weeps*

I'd really prefer to not get my rats from a pet store, but at the same time I believe that where an animal is from doesn't matter, because it's not their fault that they don't have a pedigree. I have kind of mixed feelings, because those rats deserve homes just as much as any other. :(
 

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[align=center]If you have a connection with a rat then it can't be helped where it's from and it shouldn't matter. But I avoid buying from pet stores and I'm starting to avoid breeders too after bad experiences. Adopting really seems to be a win win situation. I'm not a PETA fan but after watching the PETA Petsmart video I feel horrible just for shopping there.[/align]
 

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the PetCo that is closw to me the rats look sad. they are all white and i think they are feeders so i tell my dad when we are going to a pet store to NEVER go there.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Oh man, Kimmie... looks like I'll have some giant vet bills in my future. I wish I had known better to begin with... but honestly, I don't completly regret getting the girls from PetSmart- they're amazing, and I'm so glad that they're in my life. I just wish that their lives could be a little more comfortable sometimes.

What do you think about adopting rats from accidental litters (when the parents came from pet stores)? I would imagine it wouldn't be too bad, considering the fact that the mother would probably only have the one pregnancy. I'd think that there would still be bad genetics, but maybe it wouldn't be that horrible? (maybe I'm completly wrong, haha)

Sami said:
Bare in mind though that all Petcos and Petsmarts are not the same.
I've definitely noticed that... the PetSmart where I got my girls from seems to always be on top of everything. Everyone is fairly well trained, and the animals always seem to be healthy (and the employees even spened time socializing them... yay :D ) On the otherhand, the two PetSmarts by my boyfriend's house never seem to be all that great... the people don't know much about rats, and a lot of them tend to bite. In the end, it seems that it just depends on how the manager chooses to run the store.
 

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I have rats from petsmart that I LOVE, however... they have all been a royal pain in the ass as far as training. They fear poop more and longer, they need heightened QT, and they have a hard time adjusting to their new place, especially if they are older.

They are better than petco, that is for sure, but if you CAN find a breeder, go to one, but if you want a petsmart rat, just look out for signs of neglect, and try to grab a younger one if you can.

My last adult petsmart rescue was Stone. He was full grown when he got to the store... and he STILL poops outside the cage, as does another petsmart rat that is about 6 months older.

The females seem to be the easiest to overcome their petsmart past, but the males, as lovable as all of mine are, still get scared and whatnot, but they do settle down and become laprats, I just have to keep a paper towel and a fork nearby. Stone will fall asleep on my lap, but he can't hold his business, so not sure what to say... Tiny is the same way.

Our breeder rats have all been great, and one petstmart rat that I got extremely young has been great as well, along with a full grown hairless dumbo that I got from there (he may never fear poop, but he can still get spooked). YMMV.

I would rather get a petsmart rat than a rescue fro the SPCA though... at least with petsmart, you somewhat know what to expect.

Avoid petco like the plague though... Petsmart is basically the only large petstore that you can buy a rat from and at least not have to worry about it being pregnant or something. They will come around, they will love you, even if it takes a bit more time. Petco rats are almost a lost cause... they are raised to feed snakes, where at petsmart, at least they are marketed as pets.

Also, every petsmart is different, and some do work with local breeders. I would ask. In my city, I have been to 4 petsmarts, and two get rats from local breeders, as was the case with my latest little guy, I bought him from petsmart, but he was obviously from a hand raised litter.
 

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The mills are the ones who sex and send the rats to PetSmart, I have heard many a story of the wrong sex being sent to an all-male or all-female store. :(

I have heard all the stories back and forth about Petsmart rats/care. They do take a tiny bit more care overall than Petco (we don't have Petco's here in Canada) but when a rat goes out back, its just tucked out of sight, sometimes treated, sometimes not.

I do not buy or even go into petstores any longer, because of the supporting of ratmills. They are breeding horrors. :( I take in rescues, and as Kimmie said the majority were former petstore rats but I am taking them in without lining their pockets after someone else has neglected or gotten bored of them. :(

I also refuse to buy any supplies at petstores since this also is pepetuating the continued breeding supply/demand of petstore rats.

We have a PJ's Pet here, that seems to be a good place from appearances until you talk to employees or former employees, then its horrific behind the scenes.

Pet store rats have their genetics/upbringing against them, but not all petstore rats will end up chronically ill. But its like playing russian roulette, you win some, you lose most.
 

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Honestly, PetsMart isn't much different from PetCo. It's a big corporation with many stores throughout the country. Although there are corporate rules and regulations, that does not mean every store follows those rules and regulations to a tee. In my area there are at least two PetCos and two PetsMarts. One of each of those stores are closest to me and I am most familiar with. Between the two of them, the PetCo is the better of the two. However, I would still not buy pets from them. Their animals do come from mills (no self-respecting, responsible, reputable, ethical breeder would give their animals to a pet store, never to hear of them again), and probably from the same mill. The store might be trying to help by vet checking the animals, but that is no guarantee for life. You get a two week (?) guarantee. After that you are on your own. What if you adopted a one month old baby from the store, it was just fine for the first three weeks, then on the fourth week it dies mysteriously? You have already bonded to that baby, and even if you haven't bonded closely it is still a painful process. This is the kind of thing to expect from a pet store.

Another thing to consider: By supporting the pet store, you are also supporting the mills. While an individual pet store might take good care of its animals, do you know anything of the mill where those animals come from? For all you know there are thirty rats crammed into ten gallon aquariums, having babies on top of eachother, fed Ol' Roy dog kibble, and flushed down the toilet when they die. But every time you buy a live animal from a pet store, you are supporting that. The money you give the pet store for that rat (or cat, dog, bird, whatever) is put back into buying more animals from the mill. That money goes into the pockets of the mill as they skimp on good care and housing to make money while producing animals without going broke.

Rather than supporting a pet store, an organization that is trying to make money off the animals they sell, support a good cause. Go to responsible, ethical, reputable breeders and rescues, rather than pet stores. Yes, it might be a little bit harder to adopt a rat than it would be to walk into a store, slap the money down, and take your new pet home, but it will be worth it in the end. The money given to these good breeders and rescues goes back into the care of the animals, it doesn't go into their pockets.
 

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I agree with Sorraia on the fact you can't tell what kind of life the rat was born into, so you have no idea what you're getting into from buying from a pet store.

I don't know what kind of farm the rats from my old Petco lived on before they came to us, but even though they were all quite skittish (especially females. The males were always a little bit more tame), they were healthy... But the rats we get at this Petco are not only skittish, but they all have horrible health problems. I don't know anything for sure, but I assume they keep their rats loaded into 10 gallon aquariums with unclean cedar bedding (Not that clean cedar is any better), considering how many die of upper respiratory infections. According to one of the Team Leads, she's even had a couple rats die during the car ride to the vet.

I would get a rat from my old Petco in WA, because even though I don't know what kind of life they lead in the farm, considering we never, ever received a traveler full of sick rats, and I had never seen a rat with porphyrin before, I trust that any rat I get from that place will have a fair-quality life. Maybe not good quality, but fair. ...But I would never, ever get a rat from the place I work now, in VA.. Or any pet besides a fish, for that matter. :/

All in all I would really prefer a breeder though. Still looking for one, myself.
 

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I think it could depend on the store really, depending on who the people are taking care of the animals, caring if they are sick or not. My first first was from Petsmart and she lived to be 2.5 with no problems, but at the same time, at the local Petco, I would NEVER buy a rat from.

Hmmm..
 

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my first 3 rats after i was married to my husband was from pet werehouse.. names were bazzels, razzles and dazzles lol... bazzles lived for 3 years and was about 3 lbs.. he was buff and white bershire rex.. i miss him so much.. hes was a great little boy.. not all pet store rats are bad tho is all i'm saying...
 

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RAt Mills usually use lab bins and cram the rats in. I am so surprised that link from fancyrat.uk never made it onto here...

cross-posted from another forum, this not only has the link but also the communcation with the original viewer. Just remember this is a GOOD rat mill...can you imagine the ones that are hidden?

http://jorats.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2113
 

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btw my last petstore rat is 33 months old, and wasn't sick during most of her life. She is now developing abscesses and she has mostly had to live alone since she hated other rats and would kill them if she could.

She has done some serious damage to some of my rats and incurred some serious vet bills.

Lovely girl to me NOW but her aggression just proves she was not bred well. :(
 

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I would rather get a petsmart rat than a rescue fro the SPCA though... at least with petsmart, you somewhat know what to expect.
Well everyone has their own opinion but...you know you are getting a rat from a mill. You know you are encouraging them to buy more rats from the mill by handing them money, they think you are supporting them.
 

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I have 2 Pets At Home (which were formly PetSmart) and the one is complete and utter rubbish (unfortunely, the one where I got my girls from). Yet the other one is much better, the people seem much friendlier and know what they are talking about when it comes to the animals.

To get to the point, I brought Dotty and Doris from the rubbish store. Dotty was pregnant when I brought her, lost her eye pretty much a few days after giving birth and now has a lump on her side.
Doris is very timid, doesn't like being handled and constantly jumps away from me. Altho Dotty is very tame and loves to come out.
 

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Nyah, my very first rat, was from Petsmart. It took a little bit of time for her to become socialized to me, but it all worked out. She's really healthy, active, and energetic.

She's never been terribly affectionate, and she used to bite. She had a cagemate who was not socialized and was also a biter, so I got rid of her. Then I introduced Nyah to my two adopted girls, Torri and Garnet, and now she doesn't bite, and she boggles all the time.

Pick your poison.
 

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Not every petsmart gets from "mills". Here, there are two stores that I know of that sometimes get litters from local breeders. I have had some good rats from Petsmart, and without having to worry about what the previous owner did.

I respect your opinion. I am not saying that it's wrong, just that, without petsmart, number one, many people would not be able to get rats or rat supplies. You think everyone is going to know a breeder, or know how to find one? No way! If many SPCA rats come from former petsmart rat owners then not only are you getting what resulted from being raised on this mill or ect, but you are also getting one more unknown link in the chain, the previous owner(s). I don't know about you... but this country isn't exactly full of the most responsible people in the world... the less people between the rat and I, the better for me and the better for the rat.

I know breeders now, but petsmart is the only local and affordable place around for general supplies. My first rats were from there as well... two locally bread dumbo selfs, both from the same litter.

You aren't going to stop the mills... all you are going to do is leave a few extra rats for some irresponsible kid, or some snake lover, to buy in the future.

Now... I am getting OT, but, it *IS* commendable that you are trying to educate new buyers here. I am not putting any of you down for your stance. Education is never a bad thing, I think we can all agree on that.
 

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yashu said:
I respect your opinion. I am not saying that it's wrong, just that, without petsmart, number one, many people would not be able to get rats or rat supplies.
There's nothing wrong with PetsMart (or any other pet store) selling supplies, it's the live animals sold that people have issue with.

You think everyone is going to know a breeder, or know how to find one? No way! If many SPCA rats come from former petsmart rat owners then not only are you getting what resulted from being raised on this mill or ect, but you are also getting one more unknown link in the chain, the previous owner(s).
That's the beauty of word of mouth. If no pet stores sold animals, people would have no choice but to go to a breed or a rescue. Person A knows Person B who has a rat, falls in love with rat, and wants to get one. Asks Person B where they got their rat. Person B just happened to get the rat from a wonderful breeder, passes on contact information. Person A goes to breeder, gets rat.

As far as getting rats from rescues - yes, many of them are ultimately from pet stores, but when they come out of a rescue, they are no longer pet store property. The money used to adopt said rat goes to the rescue, and is put right back into the care of those animals, and rescuing other animals. Buying an animal from a pet store is NOT rescuing, it is purchasing. The money does not go to the betterment of the animals, it goes toward making a profit (no matter how seemingly insignificant the price may be, it is still a profit or else the store won't be selling the "product"). True, by adopting a rat from a rescue you have an unknown. You know nothing about their health, nothing about the temperaments in their background. If it's a good rescue, they won't adopt out aggressive animals (at the time of adoption). But you won't know what the future holds. However, those animals still need loving homes. That's not to say pet store rats don't deserve loving homes either, by all means they do! Unfortunately by purchasing from pet stores, you are doing nothing more than supporting the pet store and encouraging them to put more animals into that situation. Rescues at least are trying to stop that situation.

Now unfortunately there's little any one can do about irresponsible people (and you are right, there are LOTS of them out there!), except to try to educate them. But that's why adopters need to do their research. If you don't want to take a "risk" with rescue rats, go with a breed, BUT first do your research and find one who is responsible, reputable, and ethical. Don't go to the first breeder you find because they have cute babies, find someone you WANT to support because you agree with what they are doing.
 

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Earlier posts were placing buying supplies from there in the same camp as buying a rat from there.

And word of mouth only goes so far. Let me put it to you this way... when the average person thinks to himself: "I want a pet rat, where shall I get my pet?" The pet store is going to likely be the first thought. It certainly is when you think of any other pet, why not rats?

If you really want to make a difference, convince petsmart to adopt out rats like they (I don't agree with this, but it is an option for people that think the way that you do) with dogs and cats.

You see, the problem here is not that rats are sold in pet stores... or any animal... it is that rats serve as a dual role in the pet world, both as a pet and as food for a pet. If dogs and cats where food staples for some larger domesticated animal, I am sure you could buy them in the same way. There is nothing crucial about a dog or a cat that makes them any more special than a rat, just different, but dogs and cats are not a food staple for other pets. Rats are a food staple as well as a pet, and I don't know a lot about snakes and reptiles, but you can't train them all to eat dead rats... and even the sale of dead ones benefits the mills.

I, personally, would rather be able to buy whatever the **** pet I want at any pet store, within reason... (domesticated and semi-domesticated) I would rather more effort going into improving the conditions at the breeding farms, because they aren't ever going to go away anytime soon. A few rat lovers are not going to take away much business, nor are a few local ratteries. What I am saying is, that I commend you for providing humane options for obtaining rats for people "in the know", but don't kid yourself that it is going to do anything to change the situation inside petsmart and the larger breeding farms. It is going to take strict regulation and oversight to do that, but like any commodity (that is what they are), good luck. All the PETA campaigns in the world can't get KFC to stop torturing chickens, people want their spicy chicken, they want it with little effort on their part, and they don't care as long as it tastes good, know what I'm sayin'?
 
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