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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Ugggghhh!

So this girl contacts me on facebook through a hairless rat group. She told me she was about to get a hairless rat and she was asking how she should care for it. After asking her some questions, the story that unfolded was that she "ordered" the rat from a pet store. I presume the pet store contacted a breeder who supplies hairless rats on demand. The rat this girl received was blind in one eye, and completely unsocialized.

After exchanging some messages with this girl, we decided it would be best to try to place the half-blind rat in a better home. The girl was keeping her in a fish tank with no stimulation, no toys, no cagemates. Nothing. Just a lonely, scared rat producing porphyrin from stress.

I'm not blaming the girl - she contacted me for education, and she's willing to let the rat go to a more experienced owner. But I'm super furious at the pet store and the breeder. Mad at the pet store for not educating the girl about the basic things that a rat needs (like a wire cage, some enrichment activities, and a friend, for starters). And I'm livid with the breeder for letting unsocialized rats go to pet shops. This girl was expecting to get a cuddly, fun rat and she gets a rat that's scared of people.

Also, how did no one notice that the rat was blind??? Both the breeder and the pet shop should have not let this animal go to an inexperienced owner. They either didn't notice, or else they don't care. I'm like crying at the thought that they're probably sending out dozens of unsocialized, sick or injured rats who will live sad, lonely lives.

I have no idea why the girl chose to contact me out of everyone else on the group, but for some reason she did. So I'm going to make sure this rat gets a better life.
 

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Pet stores don't care who they sell to as long as they're selling. Most will even offer incorrect information (not intentionally but out of ignorance of the topic) if the customer asks about care. However, it's also the job of the customer to make sure that what they're getting is what they want and meets at least some of their expectations. I've seen too many people wander into a pet store, tap on the glass of a rat/snake/lizard/whatever tank, say "oh you're cute" and have the animal put in a box to take home without even holding it first. People need to educate themselves on both side of this scenario unfortunately. Even if this girl thinks she can't handle the blind rat and rehoming is the only option, at least try to educate her as much as possible on what rats are like that way she doesn't leave the situation with a bad taste in her mouth and the perception that all rats would be such a handful to care for. It's a daunting task, but you can do it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I have told her quite a bit about how rats experience the world, and how living in a glass box is muffling Shyla's senses even further. I told her why rats are better off in wire cages, with companions. Her idea was to go back to the same pet shop where she got the unsocialized, injured rat, and have them order another one for her! So you can lead a horse to water, but. . . Honestly in this case I believe the rat will be better off in another home.

But yeah, the burden of education should NOT be on the consumer! For so many reasons. . .
 

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I'm sorry - After everything, she's thinking about getting another rat? I'm more than a little concerned then... My first thought, is with the current one being so unsocialized, what would happen to the new rat should the two not get a long. And if she's having trouble rehoming the current one, trying to do it for two just makes it stickier.
 

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Yes... This is bad on all counts... But you must remember that in some areas of the country, there are no good breeders to buy from and no rescues. Some people (such as myself when I started out) had to get rats from a petstore and "hope for the best". Part of this comes from the rat community being so anti-breeding.. There just aren't that many people breeding out there.

They should definitely not be selling a sick animal.. and if it is from a big chain store, most have policies to address this. At petco, where I got my guinea pigs, they had a policy that if the animal developed an illness within 2 weeks of purchase, they would pay the vet bills if you show them the animal and take it to their vet. I believe at petsmart, you have to return the animal to them, that is is seen by their vet, then you have the option to re purchase it if it gets better. So.. My first course of action would be to return to the petstore and have them help deal with it. If it is an unfixable problem, then they may return it to their breeder or something, but they should be able to replace it with a healthy animal.. At the very least, she needs to inform them so that they do not buy from that supplier again.

Being unsocialized comes with the territory of buying at a shop.. But again, if she has no other options, but wants a rat, what is she to do? I would even suggest her buying from a good feeder breeder over a shop. I know people that breed for food but have animals that are at least socialized and healthy (even if raised in a rack) and have had aggression bred out of their lines... You could at least ask to see their living conditions to see if they are kept clean, etc. If buying in a shop, who knows what state the facility is in that the rat has come from?

If she is on FB, perhaps she can post on a group like "rat breeders" or see if there is a rat group for her state. I'm sure someone would know someone.

And please note that I'm not trying to offend by mentioning feeder breeders... It's just another option that I consider better than supporting a store that buys from a mill... I'd rather see where my animals come from than have no idea.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I can see how my language was confusing, but fortunately she's not getting another rat.

The point I was trying to make was, when I told her that rats need companions, she figured she'd go back to the same place and order another one. It didn't occur to her that the pet shop would probably give her another unsocialized rat from the same source.

I waited a few days and then checked up on the situation. Nothing had changed, and she didn't seem to have plans to make any changes. That's when I asked her if she'd want me to help her find a better home for the rat, and she agreed it would be a good idea.

She seems like a sweet girl, but perhaps without the dedication or drive to be a rat person. Yes, she *could* do her research and talk to the pet store, and do this-and-that to make the rat's life better, but I didn't see her as the type of person who actually would. I don't think she had realistic expectations in the first place. But I do give her credit for wanting to do the right thing.
 

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I'll hold my tongue on my thoughts of her after everthing that has happened. I agree that she did the right thing on deciding to rehome her, but her actions, and lack of them, has blackened my feelings towards her.
 

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Minky- My response was more to some of the posters that responded than to you, and I apologize if it sounded "harsh".

Do you know how old this individual is? It may be that she is young and just not ready for a pet that requires a lot of responsibility. Or, she could have just been uninformed when she got the rat, then overwhelmed when she found out how much (in terms of supplies, caging, etc.) goes into keeping a rat.

I just wish that there was better access to breeders and rat clubs, etc. (more like it is in Europe) so that people like this could get information and help at a local level... But that is a rant for another day lol.

Minky- Thanks for helping her and hopefully this will end well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Artgecko, it did not end well. The hairless rat passed away from an untreated URI while waiting to be transported to her new home. It was very sad indeed.

I'm not exactly sure what went wrong, why the girl was so apathetic. I think uninformed/overwhelmed are good guesses. I'm still in touch with her and I have discouraged her from getting another rat.

And I didn't think your response was harsh at all. It was just too darn logical, lol!
 

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Sorry to hear that... I'm sure that many other rats have a similar end due to bad breeding, bad stores, and uninformed buyers. There just isn't enough awareness out there or good sources for people to buy from / be educated on.

I will say that one of my own rats just died from a URI last week after starting treatment. It can happen fast (faster than I'd ever expect.. only 3 days from first symptom and beginning treatment to death). I am sorry that this girl had such a bad experience, but it may be best for her to hold off and become a little more prepared and mature before trying again.

Thanks for trying to help her and the rat out.
 
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