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Camarattery - Colorado Rat Breeder

Website Updated 6.22.2017

Rat Adopter Etiquette

It seems there’s a lot of confusion about the whole “proper” way to go about things. So, rat buyers and anyone else thinking about maybe someday approaching a good breeder about a rat, here you go:

1) STOP LOOKING FOR A RAT. The classic mistake rat buyers make is saying “I need an xx type of rat at the beginning of the fall” or whatever it may be. So they go out looking for litters due in August.

BAD IDEA.

Rats are not interchangeable; one is not the same as the others. This is largely because every breeder has their stop-the-presses criteria for breeding or not breeding, and each has preferences for size, personality, show ability, etc. Breeder X’s “perfect rat” is not the same as Breeder Y’s.

Stop looking for a rat; look for a BREEDER. Make a personal connection with a breeder you feel shares your top criteria, and then wait for a pair of rats from them. Maybe they even have a litter on the ground, which is wonderful, but maybe they’re not planning anything for a few months. Or maybe they’re not planning anything for a year; in that case, ask for a referral to another breeder that shares those same priorities and has a similar (or just as good) personality and support ethic. However it works out, screen the breeder first, then ask about a rat.

1 b) EXPECT TO WAIT FOR A RAT. It’s VERY rare to wait less than a few weeks; six to eight months is normal is even normal. I’ve waited a year on a couple of occasions; no, even we breeders don’t walk through the field and pick rittens like tulips. We ALL have to wait, and we ALL have to get matched up by the rats’ breeder.

2) INTRODUCE YOURSELF THOROUGHLY. The initial e-mail should be several paragraphs long. When you initiate contact, clearly communicate three things: (a) You are ready for a pair of rats, (b) you are ready for pet of this variety, and (c) you understand what sets this breeder apart from others and you share that commitment. Specifically describe your plans for this rat; be truthful. If you are planning to breed said animals, say so. If you don't plan to breed state it.

The ideal first contact e-mail usually goes something like ...

“Hi, my name is X and I’m writing to inquire about your rats. I've been doing a lot of research on rats and I think this is the right one for me because of [these four reasons]. I know rats are a huge commitment, and I am planning to [accommodate that in various ways]. I’m approaching you in particular because of your interest in [pet, showing, breeding] which is something I feel is very important and plan to encourage in [these three ways.]“

That’s the kind of e-mail that gets a response, and usually pretty quickly. If I get something that says “I hear you have rittens on the way; how much?” It goes in the recycle bin before you can blink.

3) BE WILLING TO BE TOLD NO. Not every person is the right match for every rat. That’s just fact. There is no way on earth every family could make your home appropriate for a dwarf rat, and they would have to lie through their teeth to get approved for one.  Dwarf are nervous and hyper as babies and that may last until they are almost a year old. I don’t expect you to have anywhere close to the obsession I have, so that means there will be some rat that are just plain wrong for you. If a breeder says no, ask why. If the answers make sense, don’t keep calling people until you finally get one who will sell you a rat of that size. Go back to the drawing board and be very humble and honest with yourself about what kind of rat really would be right for you and your family.

4) PLEASE DO NOT GET ON MORE THAN ONE WAITING LIST unless you are VERY honest about it. This goes back to rule 1. You need to understand that we think our rat adopters are just as in love with the rats as we are. We’re posting pictures, writing up instructions, burning CD's, researching everything from pedigrees to health history, all so we can hand off this rat, this supreme glorious creature of wonderfulness, with the absolute maximum chance that it will lead a fabulous life with you, and we've built all kinds of air castles in our heads about how happy this rat will be, and what it will do in its life with you, and so on. Finding out that you had your name on four lists shows that you don’t realize that rats are not packages of lunch meat, where getting one from us is basically the same as getting one from Stop and Shop.

Also, as soon as your name is on one of our lists, we’re turning away rat adopters. If we've sent ten people elsewhere because our list is full, and then suddenly you say “Oh, yeah, I got a rat from someone else,” it really toasts our bread. So just BE HONEST. If someone came to me and said “I’m on a list with So and So, but she’s pretty sure she won’t have rats for me, and I’d love to be considered for a pair of yours and I’ll let you know just as soon as I know,” I’m FINE with that. I understand how this goes. It’s not a disaster for me to have a rat “left over” at eight weeks because you ended up getting that So and So rat; it’s just frustrating to have the rug yanked out from under me. But it is frustrating because the older they are the less likely adopters want them.

5) PLEASE DO NOT EXPECT TO CHOOSE YOUR RAT. This one drives rat buyers CRAZY. I know this, trust me. I have a lot of sympathy because I’ve been there. But the fact is that if  you were to come into my house and look at the five-week-old rittens and one comes up and tugs on your sleeve and you look at me, enraptured, and say “THIS IS IT! He chose ME,” 10 other people could have come to my house and every single time this same ritten would have come up and tugged at them and every single one of them would have said to me “THIS IS IT!” 

What you are seeing is not reality. You are seeing the most outgoing ritten, or you've fallen in love with the one that has the most white, or the one that has a different look from the rest of the litter or the one that’s been (accidentally) featured the most in the pictures I've posted. Or, sometimes, you have a very good instinctive eye and you’re picking the rat that’s the best put together of the litter. And that rat, of course, is mine, and you’re going to have to pry him out of my cold dead hands.

Please note that rats temperaments do not come out until they are around 3 months old, and they can change again at a year old. And you are adopting them at 5 weeks old. So they are all essentially the same at that point. And most good breeders do not let you sift through their litters because this is a quarantine nightmare and spreads viruses to the breeders colony that you brought with you. So a good breeder will have you pick babies form their website. And only bring that rat out at the time you pick up your babies. So expect that routine when adopting.

My responsibility is not to make you happy. And that, dear friends, is why I am posting this now, and not when I have a bunch of actual rat adopters around. But it’s the truth. My responsibility is to the BREED first. That’s why my first priority in placing rats is to breeders I know, because they are the ones that will (if all goes well) use this rat to keep the variety going. It’s not that I like them better than I like you; it’s that I have to be extremely careful who I place with them so that they can make breeding decisions with the very best genetic material I can hand them. My second responsibility is to the RAT. I will place each rat where I feel that it has the best chance of success and the optimal environment to thrive.

So while I do care, and I will try to take your preferences into account, do not expect to walk into my living room and put your hand in the box and pick whatever rat you want. And do not expect to be given priority pick because you contacted me first; conversely, do not expect that because you came along late you somehow won’t get a good rat. Sometimes the person who emails me when the rittens are five and a half weeks old ends up with what I’d consider the “pick” for various reasons (sometimes because somebody emailed me and said they’d gotten a ritten from someone else; see rule 4 above). I am going to try to do my absolute best to match rittens to owners as objectively as I can, not according to who emailed first. And this is usually based on the genetic temperament of the specific lines I have babies from at the time. Since temperament cant be seen at the time you adopt. I the breeder know the expected outcome of each litter and I know whats best for you. For example I am not going to adopt hyper lab lines to jumpy young kids.

I've waited 10 years for the Pearls I have so I UNDERSTAND. But the rewards of waiting and being matched with the right ritten are greater than any frustration with having to sit with an empty couch for a few more months.

6) ONCE YOU GET YOUR RATS, THERE WILL ONLY BE THOSE RATS IN THE WHOLE WORLD. If you’ve been sitting around with your fingers crossed saying “Please, Molly, please, Molly, I only love Molly,” and I say “I really think Moe is the one for you,” you’re probably going to feel disappointed. But take Moe and go sit on the couch, and realize that she has a really cool white toe on one foot but none of the other feet have white toes, and let her try to find a treat in your pocket, and I guarantee you by the time you’re five minutes out of my driveway Moe will be YOUR rat. And a year later you may remember that you thought Molly was so pretty, but Moe… well, Moe could practically run the Pentagon she’s so smart, and her face turned out MUCH more beautiful than Molly’s did. And so on.

7) PLEASE FINISH THE ENCOUNTER WITH ONE BREEDER BEFORE BEGINNING ONE WITH ANOTHER. If you end a conversation with me saying “Well, this just all sounds wonderful, and I’m going to talk it over with my wife and we’ll call you about getting on your waiting list,” and then you hang up and call the next person on your list, that’s not OK. If you don’t feel like you click with me, or you want to keep your options open, a very easy way to say it is to ask for the names and numbers of other breeders I recommend. That way I know we’re not “going steady,” and I won’t pencil you in on my list. If you are on my waiting list, and you decide that you don’t want to be anymore, email me AS SOON AS YOU KNOW and say “Joanna, I’m so sorry, but our life has gotten a little crazy and I need to be taken off the wait list.” And I make sympathetic noises and take you off. If, then, you decide you want to get a different pair of rats, be my guest. Just keep me apprised and let me close off my commitment to you before you open it with another breeder.

…Which brings us to something that is super important and most rat people don’t realize:

8) EVERY BREEDER KNOWS EVERY OTHER BREEDER. Now of course I don’t mean the bad breeders, but the rat breeding community is VERY small and VERY close-knit. If you've been on my list for three months, I've kept in contact with you, I think you’re getting rats from me, I’m carefully considering which ones to sell you, and finally I match you with rats when they’re five weeks old, and THEN you e-mail me and say “Sorry, I got rats from Arizona, bye,” my instant reaction isn't going to be “Oh noes!” My instant reaction is going to be “From Jess?” I probably e-mail Jess several times a year, if not several times a month, aside from Im'ing her daily and I’m probably going to pick up the phone in the next sixty seconds and say, “Did you just adopt rats to Horace Green from Castle Rock? Did you know that he put himself on my waiting list three months ago and has been saying all along how excited he is?” And two minutes after that she’ll get a call from Desiree in New Hampshire and Desiree will say “Did you just adopt rats to Horace Green from Castle Rock? He’s been feeding me lines for eight weeks! I had rats ready to go to him next week!”

And we will take your name in vain, Horace Green from Castle Rock, and Jess will feel bad that she adopted rats to you, and oh the bad words we will say. And Horace Green from Castle Rock will be a topic of conversation at the next rat show, and t-shirts will be made that say “DON’T BE A HORACE,” and someone will name their rat Horrible Horace and everyone will get the joke and laugh.

In the end, “Be excellent to each other,” as Bill and Ted so correctly ordered us, is pretty much the paradigm to follow. If you err, err on the side of this being a relationship, not a transaction. Try to act the way you would with a good friend, not with an appliance salesman. And the ending will be as happy for you as it is happy for us.

- Author Unknown 
Found on Facebook with no author or copyright attached. It was recycled many times and shared with no connection to the original writer when I found it. Probably re written time and time before I got it too. I don't know. Rewritten for rats and grammar cleaned up, original was written for a different species. Who ever wrote it I enjoyed it and thank them for it.