Pet rats star in RatsPacNW show at the Washington County Fairgrounds

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Oct 29, 2013 in Rat Answers | Subscribe

Mr. Hissnpoof’s furry, plump body sat snuggly in Hilary Price’s palm. As his little nose twitched, head darting left and right, Price stared into his beady eyes and smiled.

“I’m just a big sucker for these guys,” Price laughed.

To say Price likes rats is an understatement. Price currently has nine rats, all of them rescues. Throughout her lifetime, she has cared for more than 500 rats, which she said is a conservative estimate. Caring and tending for the little creatures is her vocation.

At RatsPacNW Come Fall for Rats show on Nov. 2 at the Washington County Fairgrounds, Price and her fellow rat enthusiasts will gather to educate, celebrate and talk rats.

RatsPacNW is a club for owners of pet rats with members hailing from British Columbia, Washington, Oregon and Idaho. Price has been a member for ten years and is one of the co-organizers of the Hillsboro show this year.

Price’s Beaverton home shows signs of her rodent revelry. Above her computer is an original painting of rats dancing around Starbucks coffee. Her bathroom boasts a portrait of her favorite guinea pig, Mr. Wheekers. A hand-drawn portrait of her rat Reggie, who passed away four months ago, hangs in her “rat room” where a dozen rodent friends call home.

“I feel this way about most animals,” Price said, massaging the spot between her rat Patrick’s small ears. “It could be any animal.”

Her affection for the little critters started many years ago. When Price was 7, she and her siblings were allowed to buy three pink-eyed white (PEW) rats from a local pet shop. When the rats gave birth a few weeks later, their pet family grew. Soon, they had a whole room filled with a dozen cages.

From there, she and her siblings began to acquire even more rats, mice, hamsters, guinea pigs, even chipmunks.

“It’s funny,” Price laughed. “Neither of my parents even liked animals!”

Price continued to tend to rats during her college years. One semester she said she decided to scale back on her classes because of her sadness after losing her rat “Hackman.”

Hilary Price of Beaverton holds Janie, a rescued pet rat. Price is a member of RatsPacNW and also co-orgaizer of their fall show on Nov. 2 in Hillsboro. (Taylor Smith/Hillsboro Argus)

 She admits to being emotional about her rats at first, but over the years, she has educated herself about healthcare and can better handle their infirmities and death.

“Rats live in the moment,” Price said. “They don’t sit there contemplating their death.”

Still, she maintains that every creature deserves a well-lived life. Her advice to potential rat owners is to not get a rat unless you have money to take them to the vet.

That assumes that the owner is willing to treat the rat’s medical problems. Price said that many owners don’t. That’s not the way she does things, though. Price has spent up to $1,500 on surgeries for her pet rats and hundred-dollar procedures are common.

“You pay because you love your rat and you think they have enough life left to live,” Price said.

Price recommends that people interested in getting a pet rat consider adopting from a rescue center. A good second option is purchasing from a reputable breeder.

Price said rats make good pets because they are trainable, social and downright cuddly. They are also quiet and clean.

Rats, Price noted, are often misunderstood. The misconception often starts in the beginning with rat species. Rattus rattus are the smaller, long-tail rodents most often kept as pets. Rattus norvegicus are the larger sewer rats that like to live underground.

Price’s rats are of the rattus rattus species, but their colors and markings are quite diverse. She has pink-eyed white rats (the standard lab rats), brown hooded rats and Rex rats.

For those interested in showing their rats, the Come Fall for Rats event will have a standard show where rats are judged on coat type, markings and features, and a pet class show with categories such as “best costume,” “longest tail” and “kissiest rat.”

Price, however, said she doesn’t enter the competitions.

“I don’t want to look at animals as a commodity,” Price said. “I just like to stare into their little souls and see each of their little personalities.”

— Taylor Smith

Article source: http://www.oregonlive.com/hillsboro/index.ssf/2013/10/pet_rats_star_in_ratspacnw_sho.html

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