On the frontlines of Alberta’s war against rats

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 27, 2015 in Rat News

There are chew marks on the side of an old wooden granary. Dry oats are strewn everywhere. Holes have been dug under the shed. It’s still early fall and yet the grass is matted down, as though it’s been covered with snow.

These are the signs of an enemy Phil Merrill has spent decades battling.

“We’ve got rats,” he says, stepping out of his truck, a grey Ford F-150 adorned with Alberta Rat Control on the side. “I can see the trails they’ve left in the grass. Dang!”

Mr. Merrill, 64, is standing in a field in southwestern Saskatchewan, just two kilometres from the Alberta border. This is the frontline of a war he’s been fighting for nearly 40 years as a pest control officer. The expressive Albertan has been the head of the provincial rat patrol for nearly a decade. Alberta has been rat-free – excepting the odd straggler – for the past 65 years; it’s the only jurisdiction in the world to have fought rats and won, though colonies continue to thrive just outside the provincial boundary. Mr. Merrill is tasked with keeping them out.

Albertans have a take-no-prisoners attitude towards rats. For decades the province ran advertising telling residents to fear rats and kill them on sight. There’s a heavily inspected rat control zone along the Saskatchewan border and pet rats are banned throughout the province. But Alberta’s key weapon is the provincial rat patrol, a team of eight pest-control officers armed with shotguns, tasked with inspecting the control zone and spreading 10 tonnes of poison annually. No other jurisdiction has created a dedicated unit with the role of quickly snuffing out any rats who make it across a border.

“Alberta’s got a real Alberta Advantage – we don’t have rats,” Mr. Merrill said between gulps of chocolate milk, his favourite drink, while driving the 500-kilometre control zone that falls under his purview. “There’s a cost to rats. A farmer with a wooden bin would have to pay $1,500 for a new floor each time they chew through. The problem isn’t that they eat that much wheat, but they contaminate a lot.”

Despite attempts, no one has been able to estimate how much Alberta has saved from having no rats. If they got through, the rodents would destroy stores of grains on farms, undermining a pillar of the provincial economy. They also carry disease and would chew through household pipes and wires in Edmonton and Calgary. After more than a half-century without rats, the savings have been in the millions of dollars, according to Mr. Merrill.

Raised in southern Alberta, Mr. Merrill studied pest management at Simon Fraser University. He has worked as an inspector and pest specialist in Alberta for most of his life, and rats are clearly a passion. It’s an odd job, but one that has yielded many stories. There was the rat that got loose on an Air Canada flight to Fort McMurray and somehow made it to the cockpit; a stubborn rat in a Lethbridge supermarket that was chased by employees carrying brooms; or the pet store that chose to fly three rats to the SPCA in Vancouver rather than euthanize them.

Alberta’s war on rats started in 1950 when the rodents were first found in the border hamlet of Alsask, Sask. With the Rockies to the west, badlands to the south and vast forests to the north, Alberta had never had rats. But after two centuries of slow progress west from the port cities of the East Coast, rats had finally arrived at Alberta’s doorstep. With a post-Second World War government that wielded significant resources, understood agriculture and feared the damage that rats could do to crops and buildings, the Alberta government created the rat patrol.

The Social Credit government of the day also established a rat control zone that stretches 29 kilometres into Alberta along the Saskatchewan border. The control zone starts at the U.S. border and continues to the northern forests near Cold Lake, Alta. There are about 3,170 farm sites within the zone and each is inspected annually. Special attention is lavished on older granaries with wooden floors.

The rat patrol’s main weapon is a bucket of aquamarine poison pellets. The bait is made of grain, barley and poison, all held together by wax. “Poison just works the best, by far,” Mr. Merrill says as he pulls a bucket of the anti-coagulant pellets from the back of his truck. They’ll kill most rats within a few days. The patrol has mostly phased out the use of snap traps.

Some in Alberta question whether the province is truly rat-free. Mr. Merrill explains that what the status means is that the province has no breeding rat population. Hundreds of rats do come into Alberta on commercial trucks from the U.S. and other provinces, but they’re almost always alone and die alone.

The wooden granary in Alsask that is the source of Mr. Merrill’s frustration is outside of his jurisdiction. The neighbouring Alberta town of Oyen has been a recent hotspot for rat activity and he thinks the old structure is where the rats are coming from.

A paper sign stapled onto the granary says that a pest control officer working for the local county last visited in May. Mr. Merrill shakes his head. “That just ain’t enough. They need to be here every week. And they probably need to empty that granary.”

The granary looks like a backyard shed and was probably built in the 1970s. The oats inside have been left alone for five years and there are probably hundreds of rats living under the granary. Surrounded by kilometres of empty, wind-swept prairie, the rats have found a warm place to live with a nearly unlimited supply of food.

“Damnit, I thought they’d all be dead,” said Mr. Merrill, noting that officials in Saskatchewan have flagged the granary. “We’ve got to do something about this or they’ll keep getting across that border.”

If the granary were only a few kilometres to the west in Alberta, Mr. Merrill would have the shed emptied and lifted by a crane. Armed with poison and shotguns, the rat patrol would have the rodent situation solved quickly. If that didn’t work, they would set fire to the granary.

Saskatchewan doesn’t have a rat patrol, but the province has stepped up its rat control effort in recent years. Two-thirds of its regional municipalities are now rat-free and the province could be entirely rat-free within a decade.

“That’s where the rats stop and the patrol starts,” says Romeo Prescott, a farmer in Alsask, pointing at a nearby cell tower on the Alberta border. “Growing up we knew that Alberta was militant about rats. We figured we had so many here because they’d send them back to Saskatchewan. It would be great if our province would be as aggressive as Alberta. My rat patrol on this farm is my cats.”

Follow on Twitter: @justincgio

Article source: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/on-the-frontlines-of-albertas-war-against-rats/article27504057/

Tags: , , , , ,

‘Casual Nudist Seeks Roomie’ and Other Weird Craigslist Ads

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 21, 2015 in Rat News

High housing demand increases rent — and the likelihood of coming across an absurd Craigslist ad.

View Full Caption

New York makes it easy to find things you don’t need — artisanal ice, kale ice cream and unreliable romantic partners being just a few of the least necessary yet common items the city offers its denizens on the daily.

On the other hand, the city can make it hard to find the things you actually do need, such as decent housing. Many of us tend to set the bar for what constitutes “decent” housing low. Like, really low.

Case in point? How flat-out weird people can be when advertising a room on Craigslist.

All listings featured below are live on Craigslist. They highlight the fact that fulfilling a basic need like housing can come at a high emotional price:

Craigslist poster seeks “live-in wifey” who doesn’t “like to scream all day”

The Craigslist user begins by imploring users not to flag his ad, since “a lot of women out there are actually looking for this type of mutual arrangement.”

The local resident goes on to list the traits he seeks in his live-in, non rent-paying girlfriend, which include: sanity, stability, no long-term medical conditions, and being “decent looking.”

Because this is a totally normal arrangement, the lister concludes by saying that he is not looking for a sex slave, even though he “[gets] a lot of requests for that.”

Casual nudist offers living room to male roomie, promises it’s “not like that”

$200 per week will give you access to the living room of a downtown Brooklyn apartment, and a male roommate who “[tends] to be in the natural state,” which means that “male roommates would probably be ideal.”

The laid-back birthday suit fan also writes that, phew!, you shouldn’t worry about any unwanted sexual weirdness, promising, it’s “not like that.”

Tenant seeks male roomie who’s totally cool with showering out in the open

$1,250 a month will buy you some prime real estate near NYU, but it comes at a cost. The advertiser notes that the “shower is located in kitchen” and is “NOT PRIVATE.”

Tech household writes roommate want ad in the most tech way possible

In the real-life version of HBO’s “Silicon Valley,” tenants of an “immersive tech entrepreneur community” (called an apartment by some) state that they are looking for a “candidate” (roommate) who hopes to “bond with lots of new and high-quality people in tech” (gets along well with others).

They are quick to add that this apartment — which they call a “startup accelerator” — is not just a place to live, but “a community, a network, a movement, and it makes us all exponentially better.”

Midtown resident offers couch to all-hours maid

Rent in one Midtown abode is free so long as the tenant can commit to “deep [cleaning] the apartment very frequently and [doing] laundry,” one Craigslist user writes.

At the end of hours of unpaid labor, the lucky resident — whom the advertiser thinks could easily be a freelance writer — can bask in deep cleaning fumes as he or she dozes on the living room couch, which the lister claims is otherwise worth $700 every month. No word if the couch needs cleaning, too.

Greenpoint vegan offers room in apartment with rats, says they don’t “run around”

If you prefer animals to people, an $867/month room in Greenpoint might be your spot: two roommates — along with their two pet rats and rabbit — are seeking a roommate who is “chill” but “OK” with noisy Saturday nights.

Then again, since the rabbit wanders around the living room when the owner is home, you have to be a vegan to live there, and again, there are rats, maybe not.

Article source: https://www.dnainfo.com/new-york/20151119/greenpoint/casual-nudist-seeks-roomie-other-wierd-craigslist-ads

Tags: , , , , ,

Brother-sister duo speak at We Day

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 20, 2015 in Rat News

We Day took Ottawa and the Canadian Tire Centre by storm as thousands upon thousands of Ottawa students of all ages flooded the stadium with enough energy that could have raised the roof.

Manotick’s Tommy and Melanie Glatzmayer made their community proud as they took to the stage to share their story of how a six year old boy decided to take a stand, make a change, and be the voice for his sister Melanie, who was diagnosed at age three with Cornelia de Lange Syndrome (CdLS), a very rare syndrome that causes physical and mental challenges. That day back in Grade 1, where Tommy refused to tolerate his sister being teased for being different, changed the course of the inseparable brother-sister duo’s lives forever.  What ensued were two best-selling books, co-written with their mother, Nathalie Wendling, countless presentations to schools across all 10 provinces, tours across the United States, all spreading their message of acceptance and inclusion.

It was that very message that was the perfect fit for the national We Day event, and led to Tommy being invited to be a speaker that day, where newly inaugurated Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, gave his first official speech as PM.

For young Tommy and his sister Melanaie, this was an experience they will never forget. A seasoned speaker at the ripe age of 12 years old, Tommy was broadsided when he learned that Melanie was feeling ill, and may not make it to the event they had so been looking forward to. He could not imagine facing the stage and the thousands of students without her. Disappointed and devastated, Tommy headed to We Day with his father, John Glatzmayer, but the event would not be the same without Melanie by his side. In an unexpected turn, Melanie decided she had to be there, and had her mother take her to the event as soon as possible. Miraculously, she made it to the stage, just in time to be there alongside her brother. It is a moment the family will remember and cherish forever.

“I got emotional at the first presentation,” said Nathalie Wendling, “and I continue to get emotional each time they are in front of an audience. I couldn’t imagine how I was going to hold it together for We Day.”

If there were any nerves about speaking to such a huge audience, Tommy had no sign of jitters. Melanie was excited and not nervous at all.

“She watches High School Musical movies over and over…  she must think everyone ends up on stage eventually in life, and it’s now her turn,” explained Wendling. “I was more nervous than both kids. I had not slept in a week. I cried for the first 60 presentations. I cried when they finished their cross Canada tour. I cried at every award. I cried when they presented to their first high school audience and at Queen’s University… I could not imagine how my mascara could ever survive We Day.”

Tommy’s moving speech had the crowd roaring. He shared his story of making a difference, and how two pet rats helped his sister learn how to pronounce letters, and helping her speak.

“I love my sister. She is a hero for all of the obstacles she has had to overcome. Small things can build a community of support, acceptance and love. All you have to do is if you see someone who is different, smile and say hi, please. As a community, we can do the little things that can change a life.”

The crowd was cheering as Tommy continued, “ little actions of compassion and care will make a huge difference in the lives of others. Please give that support to someone who really needs it!”  He then turned the microphone over to Melanie who said, “thank you We Day!”

We Day has become a national event, whose mission is to provide an opportunity for young people to come together,  connect and empower a new generation to shift the world from me to we—from a focus on the individual to the power of community.

We Day brings together world-renowned speakers and performers with stands packed with young social innovators to honour their contributions and kick-start another year of change. More than a one-day event, We Day is connected to the yearlong We Schools program, which offers educational resources and campaigns to help young people turn the day’s inspiration into sustained action.

You can’t buy a ticket to We Day. Thanks to generous sponsors, the event is free to attend. Young people earn their way by participating in We Schools and taking action on the issues that matter most to them. Some students collect food for homeless shelters. Others raise money to build classrooms overseas.

We Day and We Schools empower young people to find their passion and create the change they want to see. By taking action on one local and one global cause, students are equipped with the tools to succeed academically, in the workplace and as active citizens.

For more info about we day, visit their web site at www.weday.com. For more info about Tommy and Melanie and their two pet rats, visit www.2petrats.com




Article source: http://www.ottawacommunitynews.com/news-story/6126407-brother-sister-duo-speak-at-we-day/

Tags: , , , , ,

This is what happens when people meet pet rats for the first time (VIDEO)

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 19, 2015 in Rat News

NEW YORK, Nov 19 — Believe it or not, domestic rats are clean, intelligent, enjoy human company and make wonderful pets.

Domestic rats have been called “low maintenance dogs” because of their appealing blend of intelligence and loyalty.

But just how open are people to the idea of keeping rodents as pets? Well leave it to BuzzFeed to find out the answer.

A group of people were presented with a small box in the form of a house and it took everyone a moment to get over the initial shock after discovering there were rats in the box.

While some seemed to take to the pet rats and others tried to keep their cool and maintain an open mind, there few the few who couldn’t help but get a little creeped out by the rats.

Would you want to keep a rat as a pet?

BuzzFeed decided to surprise a few people with some unexpected pets.

Article source: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/features/article/heres-what-happens-when-people-met-pet-rats-for-the-first-time-video

Tags: , , , , ,

Who is George Shelley? I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here! 2015 contestant …

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 18, 2015 in Rat News

As a former talent show guinea-pig he will also be alive to the dynamics of reality television, appreciating that finishing first means charming viewers as much as winning over fellow contestants.

Coming off X Factor, one might imagine Shelley’s deepest nightmare would be encountering Simon Cowell down a mine-shaft during a bushtucker trial. Actually, his ultimate horror is a slightly more obscure.

George meets Jorgie (ITV/REX Shutterstock)

“I know it sounds ridiculous to have a phobia of moths,” he told ITV. “But I do. As a kid, I got told a story about how moths are the ghosts of our ancestors or something and there is a video of me running away from a moth. It’s hilarious.”

Funnily that was precisely the response many had upon hearing Union J’s ‘You Got It All’ for the first time.

Article source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/im-a-celebrity/11998349/george-shelley-im-a-celeb-contestant.html

Tags: , , , , ,

Petco’s Partial Motion To Dismiss Prevails

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 17, 2015 in Rat News

Terms Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you
are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its
terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement
to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use
of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq
Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to
read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may
not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative
works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the
Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms
conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use
electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.coms
content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products
which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltds services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the
suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics
published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related
graphics are provided “as is” without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or
its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with
regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of
merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement.
In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any
special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting
from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence
or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or
performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include
technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added
to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make
improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described
herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally
identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for
three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a
    colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide
    information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third
parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information
providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their
articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out
by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and
services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to
view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our
users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can
customise the sites according to individual usage, provide ‘session-aware’
functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately.
This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to
our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting
articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) meaning more free content for
registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate
sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the
pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us
(e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who
author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than
the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us
not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above
or tick the box marked “Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure” on the
Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via
email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when
they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with no
disclosure in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate
registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and
topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it.
Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page
and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their
personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a users hard drive that contains an
identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information
about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they
use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the
Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to
personalise a user’s experience of the site (for example to show information
specific to a user’s region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and
cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function
unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies – or where cookies are
disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the
information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned
about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to
expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the ‘Log Off’ menu option
as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example,
advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we
are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement,
and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not
linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or
its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other
sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read
the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement
applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or
contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and
the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information
requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name
and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age
level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes.
Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the
functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our
site, we ask them for the friends name and email address. Mondaq stores this
information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq,
but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to
request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users
information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your
information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you
have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a users personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode),
or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way
to correct, update or remove that users personal data provided to us. This can
usually be done at the Your Profile page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will
post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information
we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it.
If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner
different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by
way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their
information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with
the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these
principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use
commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.

Article source: http://www.mondaq.com/unitedstates/x/444128/Professional+Negligence/Petcos+Partial+Motion+to+Dismiss+Prevails

Tags: , , , , ,

George Shelley: I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here 2015 contestant profile

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 16, 2015 in Rat News

As a former talent show guinea-pig he will also be alive to the dynamics of reality television, appreciating that finishing first means charming viewers as much as winning over fellow contestants.

Coming off X Factor, one might imagine Shelley’s deepest nightmare would be encountering Simon Cowell down a mine-shaft during a bushtucker trial. Actually, his ultimate horror is a slightly more obscure.

George meets Jorgie (ITV/REX Shutterstock)

“I know it sounds ridiculous to have a phobia of moths,” he told ITV. “But I do. As a kid, I got told a story about how moths are the ghosts of our ancestors or something and there is a video of me running away from a moth. It’s hilarious.”

Funnily that was precisely the response many had upon hearing Union J’s ‘You Got It All’ for the first time.

Article source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/tvandradio/im-a-celebrity/11998349/George-Shelley-Im-A-Celebrity...-Get-Me-Out-Of-Here-2015-contestant-profile.html

Tags: , , , , ,

Kissy, squishy, beautiful rats at the rat fanciers’ show in Hillsboro

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 15, 2015 in Rat News

Rats get a bad rap. As a society, we tend to think of the rodents more as sewer-dwelling plague-ridden vermin than as cute and cuddly pets.

Our local rat fanciers take issue with those misconceptions, and at their annual fall rat show in Hillsboro on Saturday, they proved that bad reputation wrong, by kissing, squishing and cooing over their beloved critters.

The “Come Fall for Rats” show took over a building at the Washington County Fair Complex, an event that showcased decorated rat cages, products and even adoptable rescue rats. It was a coming together of the local RatsPacNW community, but it was also a chance for rat owners to compete.

Judges handed out ribbons at noon for the “standards show” – focusing on the breeding of rats – but the real fun came an hour later at the “pet show.”

There, owners paraded their pets, propped cooly on their shoulders, entering them into categories like kissiest and squishiest and most beautiful rat. Winners were chosen by audience applause. The prizes were ribbons and small, hand-made crowns, which owners gleefully strapped to the heads of the rodents.

“They’re kind of like little dogs in a way,” said 12-year-old Tirzah Vest of Lake Oswego, whose rat Bastian won the kissiest crown and tied for a win in the costume contest, dressed fittingly as a king. “But they’re so sweet and cuddly.”

Tirzah brought her two pet rats with her, Bastian and Russelie. She said she and her older sister, Ari, have been keeping rats as pets for seven years. They asked their mom on a whim at the pet store one day and “it just grew into all of this,” she said, gesturing to the show bustling around her.

She’s faced some skepticism at school, she said. People think her rats are dirty, or that they bite. None of it’s true, she insisted. Rats clean themselves quite diligently, and it’s rare for a domesticated rat to actually nip at a person.

It’s important to know that there are two different kinds of rats, the wild brown rat (what you might find in a sewer) and the domesticated or “fancy” rat (which you’ll see at a rat show). Genetically they two are the same, RatsPacNW members explained, but the domesticated rats come from thousands of generations of breeding, now born with calm temperaments and coats of all colors.

“I think a lot of people think they’re dangerous, disease-ridden things,” said Shannon Neuwirth, a rat owner from Forest Grove. “People are always afraid rats will hurt them.”

She started keeping the rodents eight years ago as pets for her son, Tyler, who has autism. He was allergic to both cats and dogs, but wanted a therapy animal to calm him. Rats did the trick, offering the boy companionship and helping him cope with emotional distress.

“It’s thanks to rats that honestly I was able to get through my days,” Tyler, who’s now 14, said.

Today the family has eight rats, six of which they brought to Saturday’s event. Shannon Neuwirth is now the show coordinator and her husband, Dan, was on hand disseminating information to passersby, helping dispel those misconceptions he said are pervasive.

Even the notion that rats spread bubonic plague might be a myth he said, pointing to recent research that blames gerbils – gerbils! – for spreading the disease.

“(Rats) spread no more disease than your cat or your dog,” he said. They’re so clean, he added, that they’ll lick themselves obsessively after people touch them with their dirty, oily hands.

The folks at “Come Fall for Rats” were on the defensive when talking about their pets. They face so much fear, so much misunderstanding, they said, that broaching the topic unleashes a maddening exercise in persuasion.

Even Tirzah, whose peers are hardly hold enough to form hardened stereotypes, said she has to fight tooth and nail to convince her friends that rats are OK – that is, until they come over and see her cuddly pets for themselves. That’s when jaws drop, misconceptions fall and the “awww”s pour right out.

“You need to give (rats) a chance … they’re really life changing,” she said. “They can bring you toward other people” and “if you’re maybe sad or something they’ll always brighten your day.”

–Jamie Hale | jhale@oregonian.com | @HaleJamesB

Article source: http://www.oregonlive.com/entertainment/index.ssf/2015/11/kissy_squishy_beautiful_rats.html

Tags: , , , , ,

Petco Dodges Punitive Damages In Customer’s Rat Fever Suit

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 14, 2015 in Rat News

Law360, New York (November 3, 2015, 7:40 PM ET) — A Maryland federal judge on Tuesday nixed punitive damages and assault and battery claims from a Petco shopper’s product liability suit accusing the retailer of selling her a pair of pet rats that allegedly gave her and her two children rat bite fever.

U.S. District Judge Deborah K. Chasanow dismissed Anna Siarkowski’s claims for punitive damages and her claims accusing the pet store chain of assault, battery and intentional infliction of emotional distress for selling her two rats that she says infected her and her two…

Article source: http://www.law360.com/articles/722724/petco-dodges-punitive-damages-in-customer-s-rat-fever-suit

Tags: , , , , ,

Pasadena: Teen’s reading program combines passion for books, animals

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 13, 2015 in Rat News

Bailey Clark’s pet collection over the years has included hedgehogs, chinchillas, lizards and rats.

The 17-year-old Pasadena resident is an animal rescuer passionate about creatures of all sizes. Bailey is also an avid reader.

“The two things I love most in the world are reading and animals,” she said.

For years, Bailey has visited her alma mater, Solley Elementary School, to tutor younger students in reading. Recently, she created a program combining her loves. Clark said she chose to include animals in the program because, “kids have a natural connection with animals.”

Bailey, a senior at Northeast High School, says she created the reading program “for fun.” She wanted to encourage youngsters to read. As a tutor, she saw kids weren’t interested in reading.

“I started thinking, ‘I need an incentive that’s universal, that the kids are going to get excited about,’ ” she said

The result is a program that rewards students for turning in monthly reading charts, which documents reading time.

The school has been using her reading incentive program since October. During that time, faculty members have seen a spike in student reading. Solley’s Principal Jeffery Haynie said students are excited about the program and it’s been successful.

Hundreds of Solley students, ages kindergarten through second grade, filed into the school’s auditorium on Nov. 6 to visit with Clark and her two rats. First, the students are welcomed to ask questions about the animals. Then, Bailey reads them a story she’s selected called, “The Great Pet Sale,” by Mick Inkpen.

Pasadena: Boy Scouts help restore Ross Cove shoreline

Pasadena: Boy Scouts help restore Ross Cove shoreline

Ross Cove Beach Association has made some major environmental changes to their community beach with help from local Boy Scout Troop 1785.

“It’s been a busy year for us,” said Jim McCormick, RCBA president and current Outdoors chairman of Troop 1785. Over the past few years, the association has…

Ross Cove Beach Association has made some major environmental changes to their community beach with help from local Boy Scout Troop 1785.

“It’s been a busy year for us,” said Jim McCormick, RCBA president and current Outdoors chairman of Troop 1785. Over the past few years, the association has…

(Atalie Day Brown)

Following the reading, students make a craft related to the animal Bailey brought along. During the Nov. 6 visit, students created rat-shaped bookmarks using construction paper and plastic eyes.

As the children work on their craft, Bailey walks around the room with her rats, giving students a closer look. Some students recoil. Most are curious and ask questions. Students are given fact sheets about the rodent when they return to their classrooms.

Bailey has brought in her pet hedgehog named “Willow” and two fancy rats named “Pippa” and “Stella.” In the coming months, she plans to bring in a pot-bellied pig, chinchilla, hamster, dog and cat. All of which are rescue animals. She says she tries to keep the upcoming animal a secret.

“I always try to make it a surprise,” she said.

Her love for animals has deep roots. Her mother, Kim Clark, says Bailey has given refuge to many homeless animals.

“She has a mini zoo at home,” she said.

Now that Bailey is incorporating these animals into a reading program, she says those adoptions were justified.

Bailey has spent around 50 hours creating her reading program.

“I don’t know how she finds time for this,” Kim said.

Bailey researched curricula, books and teaching methods. She spent hours refining the program to fit her audience’s needs. Her former fourth grade teacher, and Solley’s current reading teacher, Amber Bobick assisted Bailey.

“It’s been fun having her back,” Bobick says of Clark, blinking back tears. She is impressed with Bailey’s transformation and the way she gives back to the students. Bobick has witnessed, the enthusiasm her students have for Bailey and her pets.

“They love her,” she said.

Second-graders Brady Haddock, Levi Page, and Colin Hersl, said they enjoy Bailey’s visits and her pets.

“The first time I did it I was surprised we were going to see animals,” Brady said.

The boys said their favorite part was learning about the animals. Colin said he enjoyed learning that there were “such things as fancy rats, I thought all rats were messy.”

The students are excited for next month’s visit. Colin vows, “I’m definitely turning (my reading chart) in next month.”

Also lending a hand is her mother, Kim, who serves a long-term substitute teacher at Solley. While developing her program, Bailey reached out to her mother for suggestions, including craft ideas.

“She’s so good with the kids,” Kim said, “I can sit here with 25 kids in a first grade classroom and cannot get the attention that she gets from 125 kids.”

Bailey is also member of Read with Athletes and the Principal’s Leadership Committee, president of the National Honor Society, and secretary of the Student Government Association. She is also an exhibit guide at the National Aquarium in Baltimore.

In addition, she has volunteered at the Maryland Zoo, Busch Gardens in Tampa, Florida, the Weinberg Housing and Resource Center, EcoAdventures and the Maryland Food Bank. She currently works at Calvert Veterinary Center. Next year, she plans to study animal sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Clark says her favorite part of this reading program experience is when, “kids realize they love reading.”

She plans to continue the reading program at Solley until spring. In the future, she hopes to expand her program to other area schools. She is still surprised by the student’s positive reactions to her program.

“I never thought kids would respond to it like this,” she said.

For more information about Clark’s program, email baileyaaronclark@gmail.com.

Library events

Mountain Road Library, 4730 Mountain Road, is hosting babies in bloom and toddler time on Nov. 16 and Nov. 30.

Babies in bloom starts at 9:30 a.m. This early literacy program is designed for babies ages birth to 18 months, and includes songs, action rhymes and playtime.

Children ages 18 to 36 months are invited to toddler time at 10:30 a.m. This program also includes developmentally-appropriate stories, songs, rhymes and movement activities while building early literacy skills.

The library is also hosting a candy corn bingo at 6:30 p.m. on Nov. 18.

For more information, call the library at 410-222-6699 or visit http://www.aacpl.net/location/mountainroad.

Article source: http://www.capitalgazette.com/neighborhoods/ph-ac-cc-around-pasadena-1114-20151111-story.html

Tags: , , , , ,

Copyright © 2015 RatChatter All rights reserved.
RatChatter v1.0 theme from BuyNowShop.com.