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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Pet Rats Get Some Good Press but with Misinformation

I stumbled across this link/news video recently. At first I was excited to see pet rats getting some positive press, but I was quickly discouraged by a lot of the misinformation that was included in the short segment.

I tried to embed the video with the code they provide, but it did some annoying things, like auto play, then continuing to play other videos when it finished, so I am just going to link to the original story with the video.

Dumbo For a Pet?

Here are a few of the things that irked me:

Dumbo-eared (Mystery and Weasel)
Top-eared (Pirate)

  • The story claimed that dumbo-eared rats are somehow better pets or are raised differently than their top-eared siblings. Dumbo rats, aside from the ears being lower down on their head and maybe slightly larger, are absolutely no different from top-eared rats. They are not bred or raised any differently from top-eared rats and a litter of siblings can include both dumbos and top-ears. This is just a physical trait (equivalent to other traits like color/markings, eye color, and fur type) and is not a different type of rat. Ear type has no effect on personality, disposition, or whether a rat will make a good pet. Both dumbos and top-ears can be feeders and both make equally good pets.

  • The story claimed the average life span of a pet rat is 3-5 years. Most rats live 2-3 years with the best home and veterinary care. It is rare for a rat to live past the 3rd birthday (although possible), and almost unheard of to make it to 4. This story sets unrealistic expectations for pet owners and could potentially make new rat owners feel like they have failed their rats if they do not make it to that 3-year mark, which many do not.

  • I was glad to see that they did support a quality food, although I would hardly call the cage presented a luxury cage. I can't judge its suitability without the cage dimensions, but my reaction was that, assuming its dimensions are appropriate, it is more of just a basic cage than a luxury cage. Calling it a "luxury" cage might lead some new rat owners to believe that something less (smaller, without levels) is perfectly acceptable.

  • Finally, the emphasis on Petsmart leads me to believe that Petsmart is sponsoring the segment. I don't have a problem with chain pet stores when it comes to pet supplies, but I don't like to see the press encouraging the purchase of mill-bred animals from a pet store. It would have been nice to see a local small animal rescue plugged instead - since many aren't aware there are such things. With all the emphasis they placed on how these rats are handled often from birth to make well socialized pets, it is then deceiving to send viewers to a chain pet store, where their rats are unlikely to have been handled in this way at all.

I am happy to see rats getting good press, I just wish people would do their homework first.

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