‘Come Fall for Rats’ at the annual RatPacNW show in Hillsboro

Posted by Big Rat on Campus on Nov 5, 2015 in Rat News | Subscribe

Adore them or despise them, on Saturday, Nov. 14, the Washington County Fairgrounds will be celebrating all things rat. RatsPacNW Rat Fanciers Club is hosting its annual rat show titled “Come Fall for Rats” from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Cloverleaf building at the Washington County Fairgrounds, 873 NE 34th Ave. in Hillsboro. 

Show Organizer Shannon Neuwirth expects around 150 rats present at the show. 

For the rat uninitiated, this is an opportunity to learn about one of the world most enigmatic creatures. There will be rat experts to ask questions, and many rats available for handling. 

Some people may fear rats, believing they’re dirty, bitey and disease-ridden. Neuwirth said pet rats are extremely clean. 

“They clean themselves constantly,” Neuwirth said. “They will often clean themselves after human handling, because you’ve made them dirty.” 

Neuwirth wants people to know that just like dogs and cats, the modern domesticated rat has been bred for many generations and the unwanted characteristics of a wild or sewer rat aren’t an issue in today’s domesticated rat. They’re bred to be docile and to like people. 

“I’ve been totally surprised by how many people are afraid of them,” Neuwirth said. “It always seems to be the adults that are afraid. We always answer the door on Halloween with a rat in the candy bowl. Kids are always really excited and pet them. Adults, not so much.” 

Neuwirth will be bringing her family’s nine rats to the show. All of Neuwirth’s rats are used as therapy animals. Neuwirth and her husband Dan got into rats when they were looking for a therapy animal for their son Tyler, who has autism. Because some members of the family have allergies to a number of animals, such as dogs and cats, Dan remembered having rats as a child and knew their personalities. After some research, the family found rats to be the go to pet.

“I’ve never been bit by a rat, ever.” Neuwirth said. “My son has never been bit, and when he was younger, he would pick them upside down and run them around like they’re an airplane. If you have a well-socialized rat, you don’t need to worry about things like that.”

If Tyler is having a stress episode or meltdown, Nuewirth said she puts a rat on him and they will climb up to his face and give kisses and love and help him center himself.

“A lot of people who have anxiety keep rats with them,” Neuwith said. “They’re small and you can carry them around, some will stay on your shoulder.”

Neuwirth explained that rats have a high desire to please and they are very playful. They are also very tolerant of human handling. Their personalities are most similar to a dog. They seem to know who their interacting with and what to expect from them.

At the rat show, just like a dog or cat show, rat breeders will compete in standards competition. Each class of rat, usually denoted by their coloring, are judged on a standard of what an ideal specimen is for that variety. Sample classes include hooded, siamese, dalmatian, cinnamon and rex, among others. Winners receive ribbons for the various classes.

Also featured are pet shows. Rat owners, with preregistered rats, can enter in various fun contests, including a costume contest, kissiest rat, squishiest rat, the handsomest, and the most beautiful rat. Winners are chosen by applause, with winning rats receiving a ribbon and a rat crown. There is also a cage decorating contest, which winners are chosen by ballots voted on by attendees.

Education about rats will also be presented by a local veterinarian discussing rat health, along with a breeder discussing rat genetics. Rat rescue stories will also be shared.

Rats will be available for purchase. Vendors will also offer various rat related items for sale. Attendees can participate in a prize raffle. Kids can create rat artwork at a craft table.

The entrance fee is $5 for adults, $3 for children over 3 and RatPacNW members and free for children under 3.

For more information, call 503-357-5150 or email fallforrats@gmail.com.

–Ken Centers




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