Keeping fancy rats may not be at the top of everyone’s ideal pets and interest list, but ask any of the areas local Midlands Rat Club (MRC) members about their fancy rats and they’ll enthuse about what wonderful, fun pets and exhibition animals they make.
These relatively small rodents have the estimated intelligence and behaviour of a small dog; they easily learn their names and will come when called. They will follow their owner around and are easy to litter-tray and house train, rats can also learn simple commands and directions such as ‘home’, ‘food’, ‘upstairs’, ‘jump’ and ‘no!’
Fancy rats have been bred selectively for generations for health and temperament and it has long been acknowledged that they make excellent pets. There are many different colours and markings to the modern fancy rat, and rat lovers are all ages, from school children to pensioners and from all walks of life: Queen Victoria herself is reputed to have kept a couple as pets.
Fancy rat shows have been around for a long time too, the first rat show was way back in 1901.
Rat shows give like-minded people the opportunity to get together, discuss their rat breeding plans, admire each other’s rats and have them judged against national guidelines by rat society qualified judges.
The Midlands Rat Club was formed in 2001 and holds well attended shows every two months, with show venues in a ‘Midlands triangle’ in efforts to cater for its midlands members. The MRC does in fact have members who travel to shows from as far a-field as London, Hull, Lincoln, Oxford and all places in between.
Entry to MRC show venues is free and you can enter your own pet rat for a small fee: see website for details.
Rat shows provide an opportunity to see firsthand what rats are really like as pets, as well as the chance to see some of the many varieties, with names such as Blue Point Siamese, Chocolate, Marten and Russian Silver.
If all this has piqued your interest, more details can be found online: http://www.midlandsratclub.org/ where you can also find details of the next show, to which I’d love to welcome you personally and explain more.
From Lesley Mackness. (Midlands Rat Club)