Rats ‘really quite sweet’

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Feb 19, 2017 in Rat News | Subscribe

Sudburians help animals after they were rescued from North Bay home

 

More than half the rats seized from a North Bay apartment before Christmas have now found homes, with many Sudburians among the takers.

About 600 pet rats were removed from the hoarding situation in late December and placed among a variety of SPCA shelters and humane societies in the province, with some of the rats finding temporary refuge at the Sudbury SPCA.

Then a popular pet store chain got involved.

“To help us find loving homes for our little friends, PetSmart hosted a rat adopt-a-thon, sponsored by PetSmart Charities, at a number of stores across the province from Jan. 21 to Feb. 12,” the SPCA states in a release. “Thanks to their support, over 350 rats found new homes!”

The PetSmart store in Sudbury was one of those outlets to accept rat refugees and place them with good owners.

“We adopted out 30 of them,” says Heather Howard, manager of pet care at the Silver Hills store. “We brought in 10 to 12 at a time, and had them almost a month.”

Howard says she had to pluck a “gigantic cage” off a shelf to house the long-tailed waifs, and be extra careful in screening potential takers.

“I wanted them to have a good home and make sure they weren’t going to be fed to snakes and other reptiles,” she says.

The store already sells rats as pets, and usually charges $12.99 per animal, but in this case “I put it at $14 to make sure they were going to good houses,” she says.

People who bought rats were aware of the situation they’d come from, says Howard, and that played into their decision to adopt one.

“People want to help,” she says. “Sudbury is pretty wonderful for that.”

The local PetSmart already has a relationship with the SPCA, facilitating adoptions of cats and sometimes rabbits every other month.

The rat influx was rather unusual, Howard admits, but she says it felt good to be part of the adoption blitz.

“It was a little bit more work but PetSmart is big on finding forever homes for animals so we didn’t hesitate,” she says. “We found some 30 rats homes, so it was worth it.”

The animals get a bad rap, Howard believes, in part because of their appearance.

“People have a hard time with the tail,” she says. “But anyone who has one as a pet loves them. You can teach them to come when you call them and fetch things. They’re extremely intelligent and eager to please.”

They can also reproduce quickly, however, as was obvious from the situation the North Bay resident — a 51-year-old woman, who was charged by the SPCA with four counts of animal cruelty– found herself in.

“Usually you only have one gender because two rats can easily turn into 100,” notes Howard. “We only brought in females here.”

Some of those were pregnant, she says, “because they were housed loose in the apartment” in North Bay. “It was a bit harder to find them homes, but we did it.”

Rats are social animals and like to be among their own kind, she says, “so we didn’t adopt out any that weren’t in a pair.”

They warm up to their owners, too.

“They’re very sweet and bond with you quite easily,” says Howard, who has owned rats in the past. “I have one customer who comes in with one in the hood of her sweater. It won’t run away.”

Howard expects the store will wind up with another batch of rescued rats, as the SPCA still “has lots right now that have babies, and you can’t take them away from the moms.”

In the meantime, she’s happy to have found a place for the roughly three dozen that have come through the PetSmart door.

“It’s wonderful how it worked out,” she says. “We’d do it again in a second.”

jmoodie@postmedia.com 

Article source: http://www.thesudburystar.com/2017/02/16/rats-really-quite-sweet

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