In just 6 short hours today we went from being a 2-rat household to a 4-rat household! But as fun and exiting as baby rats are, this is about more than just new furry friends. This is about the power of passionate individuals / internet communities coming together to provide safe/respectful homes through an impressive rescue operation and the irony of having to save these animals from their "professional caretakers".. It's important to adopt animals in need, and learn their stories instead of perpetuating mill style breeding by large pet stores. These rats come from an impressive lineage that deserves recognition, so... let's start at the beginning:
May 2008: A "rescue" organization called Angel's Heart in Moncton, NB realizes they are in over their heads. With multiple litters of babies and a number of aging rats all crowded into cages in a shed they are running out of space and resources. After posting a number of ads on kijiji and pet adoption websites the passionate crew of rat lovers from TheRatShack got involved and organized RatTrain08: a relay style rescue convoy that moved 100+ rats from New Brunswick to New York making stops along the way (Montreal, Kingston, Toronto, London, Windsor, Barrie, Sudbury) and arranging loving adoptions for them along the way. Mikey (Michelangelo) and his three brothers were adopted by Loraine: We adopted four adult male rats from the RatTrain in May of 2008. They were not friendly rats at all. They had never been socialized and all of them were scared and angry biters. Still, we loved them from a safe distance and gave them a good home. Surprisingly Mikey did come around and now lets us pet him, pick him up and he loves to give us "kisses" and sit on our laps.
April 2010: The Toronto Humane Society closes its doors for criminal investigations after the animal cruelty related arrests of a number of executives. Although most larger animals find homes or are moved to other shelters, many small animals such as rats, rabbits, degus and birds remain. After hearing of plans to euthanize these animals Loraine and her friends again come to the rescue of the "rescuers": [THS] were going to euthanize all animals that remained at the shelter after closing for renovations. They had several white rats and rabbits and so friends and I went up to see what we could do. I ended up taking home a family of 6 female rats. At this time Mikey was the only rat we had as the others had passed on and he was/is older and slower.
How did I get involved? Well sometimes, despite all efforts even the best rat owners run into trouble: We put the female rats in one large cage ferret cage...it appeared that they were safely kept in. Well, one little hussy (Mabel) managed to squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze her way out of her cage and get into Mikey's cage where we found her the next morning with a naughty, naughty, naughty expression on her face :) Again the internet comes to the rescue: I got an email from Niagara Action for Animals (through a friend) looking for serious inquiries regarding homes for baby rats. I had been considering finding some companions for Alice and Bella so I emailed back and within the day two of the babies had a new home and I had new ratties that I named Cecilia and Dahlia (Dale for short) in keeping with my alphabet theme.
Its really nice being able to meet the parents of my new pets - both were healthy, well cared for/socialized, bred at an appropriate age (whether intentional or not) and lived in a caring home, not an anonymous pet store. Adopting is a win-win situation!