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I've been reading recently about "rat mills". I don't really understand what they are, but I can tell they're bad. I've also heard/read that buying animals from pet stores are bad and it's better that I buy my rats from a shelter. What exactly is true? The 2 rats I bought are healthy considering they were from a "pet store" which is Petsmart. Are all rats and such from pet stores taken from the mills or are the pet stores reliable? I'm totally confused about the mills and would appreciate an explanation.
 

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I don't think having pet store rats is anything to be ashamed of but they don't have the bests rat health wise and they aren't bred well and probably had little to no handling. I wouldn't be ashamed just breeders and shelters are recommended.

I got my first rat from PetSmart and he was the best little rat! I had him alone (I know it's not good but i didn't know better) he was super super sweet and loved being handle. Defiantly a great first rat. Plus he was very healthy and died at roughly 3 years old of a respitory infection.

My current rat was bought from a local pet store, they breed the rats in decent condition and take decent care with basically no handling -,- but my next two will be from a breeder
 

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Three of my rats are from pet stores. By far most rat owners got their rats from stores as well.

Im not sure if ashamed is the right word. But I think if we choose to buy from a pet store we should face the facts that we did support a pet mill and animal cruelty. to me I guess I see it the same as eating meat when we are aware of the horrible animal cruelty that goes on to get that hamburger to us? We can do it anyways- ignore it, feel bad about it. Or choose not to anymore.

I've done it myself, im not going to judge. My only issue is when ppl say they rescued or adopted when they bought it. It is them trying to make themselves feel better but no, you just gave your money to the mills aka supported them and made a place for a new rat to take its place.

Mills for any animal are basically a large breeding operation where animals are used as nothing more then a product. The mothers are bred over and over and over again until they can't be bred anymore or they die. The animals get no human interaction. They are kept in cages far too small, often with just enough room to live.

The first link has pics u might not want to see.
http://agothicrattery.weebly.com/why-not-to-buy-from-petstores.html
http://tianabodine.hubpages.com/hub/rat-mills

I now breed myself and will only get my rats from breeders or rescues from now on. Once you start looking it is fairly easy to find breeders not that far from you I've found.

But honestly, no dont feel ashamed. Learn from it and be knowledgeable. But just focus on the here and now with your rats. Love them and know they are in a good loving home.
 

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We found the finest rat I have ever known in a feeder bin, she actually asked to be picked up and taken home. She became the most remarkable true shoulder rat and the rat co-founder of immersion. She was loving, precotious, competent, confident and down right charismatic. She charmed and befriended hundreds of humans during her life time.... and no, in no way do I in the least feel ashamed for rescuing her from the snake food bin. Through meeting and charming so many people and by teaching me immersion theory her life has helped the reputation of rats in general and through immersion her legacy of building better human - rat bonds and fixing screwed up rats lives on... having helped thousand of humans and rats live better more fulfilling lives together... I would pay the devil himself for another day with her and would take personal offense if anyone would tell me I should have left her in that bin to be eaten by a snake!

Sadly she passed away at 2 1/4 years old from tumors... she could swim in the lake and climb trees and explore outdoors on her own and enchant everyone she met... but she couldn't beat her bad genetics... Another rat we adopted from the same bin was also very bright, although not very personable and she died of similar tumors at 1 1/2 years old... Still both rats became true shoulder rats and lived a life that was far better than becoming snake food.

So while it's morally and ethically good to adopt rats from a reputable breeder or a rescue, adopting any rat and giving him or her a good life is certainly not bad. I suppose it's like doing CPR on someone that had a heart attack verses donating a kidney or half your liver. Saving someone with CPR is a very good thing, perhaps donating your spare organs is even better... But just because someone does CPR and doesn't donate their organs doesn't make them bad or morally or ethically inferior.

You adopted a rat, you gave it a good home, you do your best to care for your friend... in my eyes you have done a very good thing. The rat you adopted wasn't responsible for where it was born and shouldn't be punished for it.

If you don't like a pet shop that mistreats rats don't buy your cages and supplies there, that will hurt their bottom line worse than not adopting a rat there. If you want to stop rat mills, call animal control or the authorities if you find one that is mistreating rats... sign petitions and try to get laws passed to protect animals from cruelty... but don't take it out on a poor sweet little rat the desperately needs a good home or someone that has opened his or her heart to an animal in need.


This was the truly amazing Fuzzy Rat.
Climbing tall trees

Tree Jungle Plant Branch Wildlife

Making new friends...
Water Fun Beach Play Summer


Walking at heel

Sand Beach Vacation Fun Shore


And just being love when she got too sick to walk on her own.

Sensitive content, not recommended for those under 18 Show Content
Child Selfie Photography Toddler Baby


Leaving her behind to be eaten by a snake would have been the worst mistake of my life.... and I'm in no way ashamed of her... or my daughter's decision to take the "friendly one" home.

Fuzzy Rat may have been inauspiciously born and came from the lowliest stock, but few rats from anywhere have ever reviled her achievements. If you love and encourage any rat you adopt from anywhere it just might become amazing too. And every rat owner has the right to be proud of their furry friends.... never ashamed.
 

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Rat mills are pretty much like puppy mills. It's usually a place where rats are kept in cages or bins that are too small, they're bred very young (and very often), fed whatever food is cheapest, and aren't given proper veterinary care when they need it. The people who run rat mills couldn't care less about the health of their animals, and are really only interested in producing enough babies to supply pet stores and get paid. They breed rats for the pretty colours and cuteness, not for good temperament or health.

The reason people say you shouldn't buy animals from pet stores is because almost all of them get their animals from mills, because those are the only places that breed enough animals to keep the stores stocked. It usually ends in the animals having less than stellar health, and sometimes behavioral issues too. That's not to say that every rat you get at a pet store is like this, you just have a higher chance of getting one.

Of course, if you have no other choice, it doesn't make you a bad person to buy your rats from pet stores. Just keep in mind that a lot of those rats will have health problems, which will cost you more in the long run.
 

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I've gotten most of my rats from pet stores. I have gotten amazing rats from Petsmart and Petco. Silver, who was OCD (more so than normal rats) and even picked up a poop and put it in the litter box. Monkey who loves riding on my shoulder, going down my shirt, and giving me what I call Monkey-Kisses (licks my nose and cheek). Daisy and Mu whom despite being jumpy and fearful (from poor breeding) overcome their fear every day so they can come out of the cage and ride on my shoulder or even just be in my lap for a moment. Anya who is absolutely crazy, but extremely sweet.

If you got rats you love, don't be ashamed. I've spent my life being ashamed and making excuses for why I've gotten pet store rats, but I don't need to justify my actions or feel ashamed for them and neither do you. If you've seen what goes on in the mills (Peta has a good video about it) and decide to continue getting pet store rats, that's fine. You've made an educated decision. If you decide to not get pet store rats, that's fine as well. We all have to make our own choices and decide what is right for ourselves and what we want to spend out money on.

Pet store rats are extremely prone to health issues, but my limited experience with breeders' rats hasn't proved them to be extremely different (my first rat from a breeder died at a year and a half whereas my Petsmart rats lived just over two years). Not to mention, not all breeders are created equal and "good" breeders are extremely hard to find. And "good" is in the eye of the beholder anyways. Different people think different things are good.

Long story short... You now know about mills. You can make an educated decision about whether or not you want to continue buying mill rats. Whichever decision you make, don't feel ashamed and don't let anyone make you feel badly about your decision.

Also, some locally run pet stores don't get their rats from mills. Some get them from local breeders or breed them themselves. Sometimes they are as bad as mills and sometimes they are better. It varies.
 

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The real problem with rat mills and breeders who want to make money with rats is that rats are a horrible business model. The largest consumers of rats are actually reptiles not rat fanciers... so there's the market... and reptile owners are looking for rats cheap. To some extent, this benefits the fancier too as I've bought rats for as little as $2.49. Which makes the wholesale price on that rat about a dollar... When you sell rats for a dollar each and you have a breeding facility, staff, food and other expenses there isn't much room for in the budget for anything. It's mass production on a grand scale or bust. And even then... given you inherited grandpa's farm free and clear, built your own cages and have a large family that works for food a rat mill is likely to generate less than minimum wage for it's owner.

Ethical breeders are hobbyists, they don't count their time or real costs and perhaps they break even when it comes to supplies and food... but they lose money with every rat they adopt out when you account for their time and real costs. And yes these kinds of breeders are rare and they don't seem to last long. Most folks can't sustain the out of pocket expenses or invest their time for free forever.

When our pet shop sold out for a few million dollars to a real estate developer... the snake food bins were gone... this may be a good thing, but it left us scrambling around for a new place to get a friend for our rat Max at the time. We adopt pups to be trained as shoulder rats and the big box pet shops only had older rats. We called the better breeders and they had waiting lists and told me they most likely wouldn't have any rats to offer us for months... and we certainly couldn't wait as Max was alone and was getting pretty reclusive. She only came out every few days and mostly it was to steal food from her cage for her next hermitage. So we called around and started working our way through the pet shops and reptile fancy... and we finally got lucky...

My current breeder is actually a high end snake breeder and his rat breeding "hobby" supports his profitable snake " part-time business". Snakes sell for hundreds of dollars each and raising rats is cheaper then buying them. But the fellow has real talent when it comes to breeding things and his daughter loves to play with the rats. He started out with very good stock and works to improve his rat lines. Not so much because he's looking to sell any rats, but just for the fun of doing it. He's actually not necessarily easy to get a hold of, but when you do, he'll turn up with a container of some of the most beautiful rats you have ever seen. And so far all of the rats we and someone else I referred to him have adopted, have been incredibly healthy, sweet, friendly and intelligent.

For me, it's the added bonus of saving a rat from becoming snake food and getting really high quality animals. He does take pretty good care of his rats, because he's not trying to make a profit on them. I realize he's not going out of his way to enrich his rats lives, so I try and adopt his rats as young as possible, so they get the best care from a young age. But I realize it's an ethical compromise. When we select the rat we want, we also know the other beautiful rats we don't pick are likely to become snake food. And that isn't always easy.

We got lucky finding our breeder... he really is good. And saving a rat from being eaten by a snake makes us feel good too. And we have gotten two really great true shoulder rats from him.

Cloud at 1 1/2 years old (she's a blue dumbo silky rex) and she just came back after my daughter lost her in the marsh for over an hour and she's about ready to go home.
Marsupial Rat Ferret Muridae Grass

Cloud and Misty waiting to go back to the car... after a long day out. Misty is pretty tired after chasing around with the kids.
Wood stain Grass Hardwood Wood Table

So yes... all of our rats have been saved from being snake food... store bin or breeder. I'm a little bit proud of that, but mostly I'm proud of the rats we have raised. I realize that there are still web sites out there where people will put you down for adopting a rat from the wrong place or put your rats down because they were low born... Some people feel morally superior when they put other people down or feel that everyone has to adhere to their moral standards...

When I first posted on the internet, I started out at one of these sites, and literally with my first post the rat snobs called Fuzzy Rat a 'junk rat' and impolitely questioned my morality for supporting an evil industry... all I really wanted back then was a little bit of advise, but they tried to make me fell bad about my inferior rat and my choices... Then one afternoon, I was sitting on a park bench next to Fuzzy Rat who was just preening herself and enjoying the nice day and I realized that she didn't think of herself as junk and I think she was really happy to be living her life boldly and intrepidly and it dawned on me that I shouldn't feel bad about what some people say. In fact I really got angry that one rat owner would go out of their way to put down another or insult their rats. Fuzzy Rat was amazing, she was brilliant and competent and the very finest ambassador for her species. When we attended handicapped affairs she went out of her way to comfort the children and make sick kids smile again.

So no way is anyone going to make me feel ashamed of any of our rats or get away with attacking my moral decisions. I still think it's great to support good ethical hobby breeders and rescues, but not if you are going to put down everyone else. Most rats do come from rat mills or byb's, most were likely bred for reptile food or along side rats intended for snake food. Most weren't treated very well but that doesn't mean that they deserve to die a horrible death. And I feel that people who adopt any rat are good warm hearted people that deserve encouragement and support.

Never, ever let anyone make you feel ashamed or morally or ethically inferior for adopting an animal and giving it a good home. And there is no such thing as a junk rat! There's no place for rat snobs in our enlightened community and no one should put up with them for any reason. Be proud, stand up for yourself and stand up for your rats!

(now stepping down from my soap box)...
 

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I have two Petsmart rats and three feeder bin rats. The options were limited in my area. I have done my research on the rat mills, am aware that some people think you should never buy rats from such places, and I have struggled with a lot of guilt, wondering if I have done something shameful. But my rats are great, we're doing the best that we can to give them a good life despite where they came from, and we made an educated decision. Many of the rescue rats probably originally came from mills too, and then were given up by their first owners... breeders aside, it is probably difficult to find a pet rat that didn't come from a mill lineage.
 

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breeders aside, it is probably difficult to find a pet rat that didn't come from a mill lineage.
Lots of breeders actually get some breeding stock from pet stores, so that's still not always a good way to avoid mill lineage, lol. Some breeders have pedigreed rats (from tracked lines rather than mills), though those are hard to find. They do exist, if you can track them down. :)
 

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Do not feel ashamed. If you're giving a critter a good home and lots of love, pat yourself on the back. All our rats have been from the same local pet store. They have far more reptiles than rodents, the rats are in the backroom lavatory. So now you know what the rats are being bred for. Maybe 3-4 dollars a piece and the friendliest ratties you could ask for. I know I'm rescuing them from being dinner.
 

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my first 2 rats Mickey and Snowball came from Pet Co and they for sure had never been handled , they pooped on me like no tomorrow for the first week then they settled down , my other 2 dumbo girls came from a breeder and were used to be handled , what a difference
 

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MomToRats,

I do sometimes recommend rats from ethical breeders to new rat owners, not because they are any better, but they come pre-socialized and that can be a real bonus for folks that aren't prepared to work with unsocialized rats. Ethical breeders usually breed rats at a loss, so their rats really are a bargain too and some may be healthier than some rat mill rats, although there's more hype than fact to that argument. But that can be a reasonable debate for another day.

Otherwise...

To be perfectly clear... I'm in no way knocking rats from ethical breeders or rat rescues... just standing up for the perfectly wonderful rats from lesser origins that need good forever homes too. Some day I hope everyone realizes that any rat can grow up to be amazing and that every rat deserves a chance, moreover that anyone that adopts a pet to love is a hero, until then we have to be very careful that personal politics and self appointed moral superiority doesn't get innocent rats killed or drive off members of our community. How can any forum seriously claim to welcome rat owners and support the fancy and at the same time permit some folks to blatantly discriminate against the largest sector of our community? (folks that have adopted store or feeder rats)

There's a reason perfectly wonderful people feel ashamed of themselves or their rats, it's because Rat Nazis on other sites are still spewing their toxic message of prejudice to promote their political agendas or more likely to assert their moral superiority... We need to be tolerant of everyone's view point, as well as their political and moral and ethical beliefs. It's great to think your rats are wonderful and that you are a moral and ethical person, but the moment you put someone else down because they don't believe as you do or you insult their rats, you have crossed the line. If someone really wants to be a Nazi in their own home, I have no real issues with them, but when they start shoving other people into furnaces (or rats into snakes) they need to be shut down fast and hard. If someone thinks their breeder rats are great and they love and recommend them, I'm happy for them, when they tell me my rats are junk and I'm immoral... they are picking on the wrong guy. I can prove with photos and videos of our past rats and with the two true shoulder rats we still live with that our rats are amazing or at least wonderful... I dare any rat bigot to prove that their rats are superior to ours, or that our rats deserve to be fed to snakes. They are the ones that should feel ashamed of themselves... very, very ashamed for making good people feel bad about themselves.

And no, I don't use the term Nazi lightly... members of my own family suffered at their hands during WW II... and when people use discrimination to promote their political beliefs or to hurt other people to benefit themselves, I call it as I see it. I intend no disrespect to anyone else who has had family that suffered because of the original Nazis... but if sane people stood up for what was right and shut down the brown shirts before it was too late, there would have been a whole lot less suffering in the world. If a single rat dies and a single potential rat owner doesn't find his or her perfect furry friend because of bigoted propaganda from other rat owners, it's a tragedy... Freedom of belief and speech is one thing, but this kind of internet abuse needs to be stopped.

You can state your opinions, but you shouldn't put other people down. And If I'm doing it, it's only because turnabout is fair play. After the harm some of these people have done to our community, they need to be called out on it. Thousands of rat owners feel bad because of them... it's time to put an end to this forever. Every rat owner has a right to be proud to be a rat parent and proud of their rats.

This is Max, one of our feeder bin refugees...

We adopted her at two weeks old from a feeder bin

Gerbil Hamster Muridae Rodent Rat


And here she is passing her final true shoulder rat exam only 4 weeks later... under the fireworks, outdoors in the dark and in a crowd...

Sky Tree Wilderness Cloud Sunlight

And here she is making friends during a meet and greet afterwards...
Long hair

She was quirky and reclusive when she got older, but she had awesome outdoor skills and was a cherished member of our family. She only lived one and a half years... but no one has the right to tell me she should have been fed to a snake or that she had any less right to live than any other rat.
 

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Look at it this way. There is always going to be giant chain petstores no matter what. So you just gave 2 rats a nice loving home.
 

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In short, no. Don't be ashamed. Your rats are unique gifts and the way that they came into your life is beautiful regardless of the circumstances surrounding it. I went into it mostly unaware of the pet trade. I still got two beautiful girls out of it, despite the fact that now I know enough to motivate me to stay away from large pet store chains for animals. Now that you have the knowledge, you can make a different decision the next time around. What matters is that you have the rats now, and you can give them the best lives possible.

I bought both of my girls from Petsmart and they are some of the brightest lights in my life. However, we did have problems because of where they came from. That's why I am really not up for going that route again. I didn't know about "rat mills" and the like. I just assumed Petsmart was the better place to buy rats because their policy is for their rats to be sold as pets, not feeders as Petco does.

The first rat that I met was my Daisy. She chose me, not vice versa. I told myself going in that day that the first rat to come to me on her own would be my rat. I put my hand in the tank for a few minutes to get them used to my smell, but not one or two minutes in Daisy separated from the rest of the group to play with my hand. I held her, and the rest was history. As for Millie, I got her mainly because I knew Daisy needed a friendly companion. The employee helping me actually picked her out, as Millie actually came right up to her. She took a while to warm up to me, so I thought that she would never really be my "heart rat."

The irony here is, now Millie is my heart rat. Daisy is, too, but Millie is my crazy girl. It took us a while to get acquainted, but once we bonded she was the most devoted rat that there could ever be. She now knows to come to me simply by my tone when saying "get over here!" Last night she jumped out of my mom's arms while getting a scritching just because I made a clicking sound and said "Millie!" I've tested it in several places, and even when she is out of my range of vision on the couch, I can call her and she will come galloping over and sit on my shoulder.

Daisy is more of an independent trailblazer. She likes me, and she tolerates me, but she is a lazy little thing who wants nothing more than to be allowed to explore without my intervention and sleep without harassment. (Though she does appreciate a good rub-down when she's half-asleep). She is the calmer of the two, and acts like an old lady sometimes. She just does not like to be bothered! Despite being averse to most petting while awake, she will do anything to sit on your shoulder and travel the house all day via her human. And she likes to eat denim pants.

They were so sick when I got them, a few days later I thought they were going to die. I had no idea what I was doing in terms of their health. I picked them up, thinking that they were perfectly healthy when they had terrible URIs. I even believe that Daisy even had pneumonia at one point. It was diagnosed by an emergency vet with little exotics experience, and when I came home from college I saw a pocket pet specialist who said that it wasn't pneumonia. Still, Daisy was in such bad shape that I do believe she had pneumonia. The only explanation is that the care I gave her saved her life. At first, I thought that her sneezes were just cute squeaks. Users on this forum told me that it definitely wasn't. I sprung into action and had to give her, and eventually Millie, around the clock care with baytril, fluids, and nebulizer treatments. It's the one time in my life that I was actually thankful to have asthma myself. If I didn't, I wouldn't have had the medications or the equipment necessary to treat them, and they'd probably be dead.

I know in my heart that if I hadn't taken my girls home when I did, Daisy would definitely be dead. Millie would have been gone not long after. Always remembering this, I have a soft spot in my heart for those pet store rats. It almost led me to "rescuing" two baby rats from Petsmart a few months ago. After I held them and got bit (and a subsequent illness that led to major freak out in my household as to whether or not the bite could have caused leptospirosis) I knew that I wasn't going to do it.


I probably won't go through a pet store for a rat again, unless the circumstances are totally right, not for purchase but rescue. In any case, next time I'm going through an animal shelter or through a reputable (AFRMA registered) breeder. I'm even looking into an accidental litter in my area that was born to a family pet.
 

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Honestly after working at a petsmart, and seeing the conditions they're kept in, and what little time they are given to be around the animals, you are deffinetly doing a great think taking them home and caring for them.
 

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Honestly after working at a petsmart, and seeing the conditions they're kept in, and what little time they are given to be around the animals, you are deffinetly doing a great think taking them home and caring for them.
I'm not too surprised. With so many supplies to stock and inventory, I imagine employees have a lot more pressing jobs than socializing with the animals. And sure, someone could play with the animals off work, but how many of us are thrilled to hang around work when the shift is done?

I've bought all my rats from a local pet store. I'm sure they probably get their rats from mills too, but the employees spend more time with the animals. They'll even carry some of the animals around with them while they work. I prefer the smaller store for that reason, though I wouldn't be opposed to getting a PetCo rat if someone happened to utterly charm us. I know I was a little tempted seeing a beautiful black rat, but she was too young to introduce to our mischief, and we're not at the point yet where we need to get two rats at once.
 

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More like the managers there force you to do more important jobs when at work. There was only one cage key for the pet care dept, and we werent able to socialize animals off the clock. I tried but I could tell just getting them from the suppliers they werent socialized enough, and were bitey.
 

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Each Petsmart is different about how they care for the animals. I went Petsmart hopping earlier this year searching for my next rat and some places have people very dedicated to socializing the rats. I was so shocked when the rats came right up to me and the lady was even able to put them on her shoulder. Some places give their rats hammocks! Obviously the place the rats come from initially (mills) are bad, but some Petsmart employees care greatly for the animals they sell. Sadly, all those "good" Petsmart with hammocks and socialization are quite a distance from me and the two Petsmarts closest are mediocre. I mean, they're definitely not bad. They just aren't good either.

Don't get me started on my local Petcos. My closest Petco does have employees who love rats, but... since they're sold as feeders mainly, I feel that the employees avoid getting attached so they don't interact with them at all. Not to mention, the rats generally look sick and dirty. When I got Daisy and Mu out of the "small" bin, there was a rat in the "medium" bin with a broke tail. Poop is always sticking to them and there is a wall of smell when you get close to the small pets. It's a nightmare. I do generally avoid Petco for that reason, but I'm not opposed to getting rats from there when I find the 100% perfect one(s), like Daisy and Mu earlier this year, and Eevee (who recently passed) in early 2013.

I love my Petsmart/Petco rats. <3 I haven't had a great experience with males from pet stores, but my females are just amazing.
 
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