Rat rescue

Welcome to my page about my rescue work. This is where people interested in either surrendering rats to me, or generally learning about what I do, can find out more information.

I began taking in rescue rats in April of 2006 when Molly came into my life.
I was working at the RSPCA in Norwich on a voluntary basis, and over-heard that someone had dumped a rat there, and the staff weren't sure what to do with it. The center primarily deals with dogs and cats and doesn't have the facilities for small animals. As this rat was a girl, and I only had boys, I told them I would be unable to take her.

Moments before I was due to leave for the day, I was told that they had been unable to place the rat with anyone else, and asked me if I'd reconsider having her. I said I would, as she had no-where else to go. Molly had a large tumour, presumably the reason she was dumped, but she came home with me and got the vet care she needed. She went on to live a good year more. She was my first rescue rat, and she opened the doors to me taking on needy rats on a larger scale.
The RSPCA now knew I was a ratty person, and I agreed to go onto their resources list as a contact for all things rat related, from advice to taking on the occasional rescue. It soon became clear to me that I was possibly the only person in Norfolk, and certainly the only in Norwich/yarmouth, who would take in rats. Now, I can't imagine my life without my rescue work. Its the most rewarding thing I've done in a long time.

About the rescue
I only do rescue on a small scale, which is more due to necessity than desire.
My rescue is run out of my garden shed, which has been modified specifically for this purpose. It is insulated and heated for the winter, and has a screen door for the summer.
I do not recieve any funding from anyone, and everything is payed for out of my own pocket. This includes vets bills (which can be staggering when you consider that a lot of rats I get brought to me are not in the best of health and usually require a trip to the vets as soon as I get them) food, bedding, litter, toys, and, usually, cages. Occasionally, I am given the odd cage along with a rat when it is surrended to me, and this always helps enormously.

My aim is to never turn away a rat that is truely in need.
I like to think that if it is a case of the rat coming to me or dying/being euthanised, I will always find the room for it. This was my aim from the start, and so far I have managed this comfortably.
But this, of course, means I need to be somewhat picky about which cases I take on.
Much as I would love to, I simply don't have the space to take on every rat I get called about. A garden shed can only hold so many rat cages and still allow space for me to get in, store items, and give the rats somewhere to play!
Added to which, I need to be realistic when it comes to money. Rats are not cheap animals and I will not put myself into a situation where I cannot afford to look after them to the highest standards. As such, I am currently forced to make it known that I take in emergency cases only.

But what is classed as an emergency case, and will I be able to take your rat?
An emergency case is classed as any situation in which the rat is in danger or suffering abuse, or has nowhere safe to live.
Classic examples of emergency cases I've taken in in the past included Mickey and Jacob, who were found dumped in a sealed box in a park and taken in temporarily by a member of the public who did not want to keep them.
Fry, who was released into a garden and was living wild in a shed with no-one who was prepared to try and catch him.
Chloe, who was caught as a stray and was moments away from being killed with a brick.
And, of course, Molly, who was dumped at a rescue center and suffering from a tumor which meant no one else was prepared to take her on and she was facing possible euthanasia.

Strays, abandoned rats, abused rats, and rats found by members of the public who cannot keep them themselves but don't want to see them killed are what I place as top priority.
These are the situations in which a rat truely needs someone to help it or else it will die, and these are the kinds of situations I am here for.

But what is not considered an emergency?
Basically any situation where a rat has a roof over its head, food, water and an owner who cares.
Situations like this include things like 'Im moving to university and can't take my rats, so I have to rehome them', as an example. In this kind of situation, the rats are loved pets, and it is clear that the owner won't simply dump them if I don't take them. People like this will work to find homes for their rats no matter what, even if I can't help them, so they are, basically, in safe hands.
I can very occasionally take these kinds of cases if I have an unusual amount of free space at the time, so it is worth calling me to check, but ultimately don't be surprised if I have to turn you down. My situation is such that I never know when the next call will come through, and I have to conserve my space for the rats for whom I am truely their only hope.

Please note: I will not take deliberately bred rats, in most cases. If someone has deliberately bred their rats and found themselves in over their head, I am not helping anyone by coming along and cleaning up the mess.
All that will do is give the impression that its ok to carelessly breed rats as there will always be someone there to take them away. In cases such as this, it is not at all unusual for the caller to offload his animals on a rescue, then go and breed another litter. The only possible exception to this is if the animals are in danger of death and the owner can convince me he will not be breeding again.

Surrendering rats to me
If you wish to surrender a rat to me, please bear in mind that I do not drive, and that I live in Lowestoft. Most of my calls come from Norwich, or further afield, and the vast majority of them are not willing to drive the rats down to me, or even to meet me halfway.
In these situations, I usually end up having to take trains, or bug relatives and friends for lifts to pick up rats. While Im just happy to get a needy rat out of a bad situation and do not mind doing this, it is a HUGE help if you can bring the rat to me yourself. Not only does this save me having to arrange an entire day around travelling somewhere by train, and even having to delay picking up the rat as I may be working on the day you call and unable to come that instant, it is less stressful to the animal to not have to be carted about on a train or bus.

Similarly, if you have rats you wish me to take from you and they have a cage, it is extremely helpful if you can let me have this too. Several people who have called me in the past have been quite happy for me to do them the favour of taking the rats off their hands, but then inform me that they are going to sell the cage so they can get some money back.
While I understand this, I am not made of money and cannot afford to splash out for new cages for every rat I get a call about. If the rat has a cage and the owner presumably does not require it anymore, it is helpful beyond words if they allow me to take it along with the rat. Several of my current cages were given to me with the rats, and the owners were perfectly happy to offer this. Obviously it is not a necessity to me taking on your rat, but it really does help.

Be aware that I will not pay anyone for cages or anything else that comes with the rat. Blunt as it may sound, I am doing you a favour by taking your unwanted rat and do not owe you anything.

Please be aware that I will also not pay anyone anything for an animal.
This is a purchase, not a rescue. If I pay out for rats, all it does is give someone the impression that there is money to be made in rats, and they will simply go and acquire more in their place.

Fortunately, the vast majority of people who call me fully respect this, but I've stated it merely to cover myself and make sure people are clear.

At present most of the rescued rats I've had brought to me have stayed with me.
This is because thus far, I've managed to find space for most of them to stay permanently (and regrettably, with rats having short life spans, space opens up more regularly than in a dog or cat rescue) However, I do very occasionally home rats on to other people. These will only be the rats that are young, healthy and well adjusted.
Old or sick rats, or those with behavioural issues will always stay with me. It is not fair to uproot old rats more than is absolutely necessary, sick rats will often need ongoing vet care which I know I am able to provide, and rats with behavioural issues tend to need a lot of work, by which time I am hopelessly attached and don't want to give them up!
Also, I don't think it is fair to expect people to take on aggressive, or unhealthy rats unless they can assure me they are comfortable and confident doing so. Most people who call me to enquire about rats want something relatively simple and well adjusted, particularly if they are first time rat owners, which is totally understandable.

In the event that you wish to rehome a rat from me, you will be expected to fill out a questionnaire about your rat experience, husbandry intentions and lifestyle. This is simply to ensure that the rats go to the best homes possible. You do not need to be a rat genius, or even to have owned rats before, but obviously if someone says they will only be able to spend 10 minutes a day with the rats, or that they do not wish to spend much on vets bills, this would be something we'd need to discuss and aim to change, or else come to the understanding that perhaps rats aren't right for you.

It is important to note the following before even contacting me for rats:
Any rat obtained from me must be returned to me in the event that it is no longer wanted. The rat may not be passed on to any third party.
None of the rats obtained from me may be bred from, under any cirucmstances.
All rats obtained from me will be suitably fed, housed and watered, and given vet care when needed.
I will not home lone rats unless I am quite confident you already have a rat at home as a companion for it.
I will not home rats into a situation where a child is to be its main carer. Be aware that as a parent, you are never simply getting a pet for your child; you're getting one for yourself. It will be you that will be paying its vet bills, paying for its food and making sure it is healthy. I am perfectly comfortable rehoming rats to people with children, but they must be aware that the child cannot be expected to be the sole carer of the animal.

Donations always welcome. Also, I will gratefully take in old blankets and fleeces, as they make good bedding. If you wish to donate litter, please make it Megazorb, Biocatolet, or Carefresh. Thanks!

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