Ready to foster a rat?

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Jun 11, 2014 in Rat News | Subscribe

MARIKA HILL

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Stephanie Manley with some of her rescued rats.

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Pet owners are dumping furry friends in the wild where they are beaten, maimed – and sometimes even killed.

But there’s hope for at least one species, with a dedicated team of rat saviours battling for the rodents’ survival.

Fancy helping care for these little long-tailed creatures?

The nationwide Rat Rescue team is looking for volunteers to provide foster homes for the few hundred pet rats abandoned each year.

Board member and rat carer Stephanie Manley said rats had a right to be saved from the mean streets, just as the SPCA rescued homeless cats and dogs.

“They’re still animals, and just like any pet, they deserve some assistance.

“At least half of the rats that owners dump don’t survive because they are domesticated and are used to having food delivered to them.”

Herbie is a sad example of what happens when a tame rat is turned outside.

He was found in a Palmerston North park in urgent need of medical care.

Veterinarians failed to save his eye and teeth after he was seriously mauled by wild rats, Manley said.

But female rats have slightly higher survival rates.

“If you dump a female rat outside its company is going to be `enjoyed’ by the wild ones, while male rats are going to be in direct competition,” she said.

Public perception is one of Manley’s biggest challenges.

She has been offered rat poison and free use of a cat after telling strangers of her passion.

Rats suffer an undeserved reputation of being dirty and disease-infested, but store-bought rats are far removed from their wild cousins, she said.

“They’re a lot cleaner than mice, really intelligent and you’re more likely to catch a disease from your cat,” she said.

Manley became interested in rats after buying her first while she was at university.

“They’re very entertaining animals and affectionate. They love company and will sit on your shoulder.”

She has about 25 rats in her foster care, where males are kept strictly separated from females.

Five pregnant rats can quickly turn to 60 hungry rodents.

The Rat Rescue accepts pregnant rats, discarded pets in urgent need of a home, or domesticated rats found in the wild.

The team generally turns down wild rats or pets owners are trying to offload.

Manley suggests anyone with a wild rat problem to use a humane trap to capture the rodents. Veterinarians can then humanely euthanise them. Poisons leave rats suffering for days, she said.

Rat Rescue relies on volunteers and donations to operate. Anyone interested in providing foster care or adopting a rat can go to: nzrr.org

– Sunday News

Article source: http://www.stuff.co.nz/sunday-news/news/5331116/Ready-to-foster-a-rat

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