by Diana Hockley
KRL enjoys featuring the many rat rescues around the country because we know how wonderful pet rats are and want to help spread the word about those who help them. This week we are featuring a rescue of another kind, a mouse rescue located in Virginia Beach, Virginia, who also rescues rats and other small pets. We chatted with one of its founders, Lucinda Rideout, about their rescue and what they do.
KRL: Rescuing animals is a labor of love and total dedication. What was the catalyst for the creation of the St. Nicholas Mouse Rescue, and when did it come into being?
SNMR: SNMR began in 2010. My husband and I wanted a mouse, and visited the local animal control shelter. The small rodents were housed in a cold, drafty hallway, completely neglected. Cages were stacked on top of each other without any identification. We found our mouse, who had lived most of her life in these conditions, and brought her home. Our thoughts kept going back to the other hamsters, gerbils, and rats that were still at animal control. Very slowly, we began to adopt the rodents at most risk (biters, old, sick) and our rescue became bigger. We became volunteer workers at animal control in order to bring food to the rodents and watch for animals at risk. After a while, there was an opening for Pet Portal volunteers to list the adoptable animals online, and that became another focus of our rescue.
KRL: How did you personally get involved and how did the rescue get its name?
SNMR: Our name is Saint Nicholas Mouse Rescue, although we rescue more than mice. We had for a time, a beautiful white and gold mouse named Nicholas. When he died, we named our rescue after him, and also to honor Saint Nicholas. We try to make every day at the rescue like Christmas day for our rodents, and to keep in mind the wonderful work Saint Nicholas did for children, and be inspired to follow in his footsteps.
KRL: What sort of set-up do you have? Is it a private house, a shed, or a purpose-built complex?
SNMR: SNMR is a home-based rescue. My living room and an upstairs bedroom house the rescues. The rats live in Ferret Nation cages downstairs where they have the enrichment of radio and television, while the mice and other small rodents live upstairs where it is warmer and quiet.
KRL: How many can you accommodate and do you rescue other animals (e.g., hamsters or guinea pigs) if an emergency arises, or do you pass them to another rescue?
SNMR: Depending upon what comes our way, we have had as many as 100 baby rats (all adopted) along with the usual amount of adult rats, between 20 and 30. Our mice population varies. Recently we were given 15 baby mice and four adults, as a drop-off from a local family. Over the years, we have had hamsters and gerbils (and their babies) from animal [shelters] which could not care for them.
Recently, we have had to cut back due to the illness of my husband and myself (breast cancer and bladder cancer) and the ongoing struggle of my husband’s dementia. I am 64 and my husband, Jim, is 78.
We have had support from other rescues when there is a baby overload and from our own organization, both financially and in labor.
KRL: Wow I hope you are recovering. Are you a registered charity for rescue or tax exemption purposes?
SNMR: Yes, we are a 501c3. This has enabled us to seek donations.
KRL: Do the local authorities support you?
SNMR: We are a registered rodent rescue and foster with the Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center. We are inspected and happily have a good relationship with VBACAC.
KRL: How does the local community regard your activities and are they supportive in adoption and/or monetary terms?
SNMR: We have stayed private for several years; however, we are now on Facebook and have been interviewed for magazines and the local paper. The community has provided many monetary and material donations to the rescue. We have over 900 likes on Facebook. We have successfully placed many animals for adoption over the years.
KRL: Do you have many volunteers and how do you recruit them?
SNMR: We are a very small rescue consisting of my husband, myself, and our PR person Morgan Ringer, who also devotes many hours of her time to cleaning cages.
KRL: Rescues depend on donations from the public; do you charge a small fee for your animals when they are adopted? And do you have PayPal and credit card facilities?
SNMR: We never charge for an adoption; however, we accept a donation, of whatever size, for an animal. We have an adoption contract, and references are checked out before we consider an adoption to anyone. We screen for reptile owners or whether a person has a veterinarian. We also follow up later on the welfare of the adopted animal.
On our website and on Facebook we have a donation site that is connected to PayPal.
KRL: What are the special challenges to rescuing rats?
SNMR: Space. If we have space for them; however, if there is an urgent need for rescue, we find the space whether through fosters or pushing hard for adoptions.
Rats are highly intelligent and each has their own personality. Each rat is treated differently, as some may never be socialized, while others require a lot of handling. Some rats come with respiratory problems, tumors, emotional problems, or other considerations.
KRL: How many animals do you think you have saved so far?
SNMR: I have lost count. An estimate is in the hundreds.
KRL: Have you any fundraising or adoption events coming up, and would you like to give the details?
SNMR: We have, from time to time, Flash Friday events where we ask for donations. We are also supported by the Travelin Rat, and tie many of our fundraiser events with them. Our Facebook page is always current with future fundraiser events such as t-shirts for sale.
KRL: Do local vet surgeries help in any way?
SNMR: The cost of veterinary services is very high in this area. Our exotics veterinarian does give a small discount to us and we are grateful for that.
KRL: Have you been involved in any hoarder or big rescues? If so can you tell us about it?
SNMR: Hamster hoarders and rat hoarders are always a big thing when they happen. We placed over 100 baby rats, and another 75 baby rats in the same year as we had a hamster hoarder explosion. We kept most of the hamsters but were able to place a few during local adoption events. That was a busy year!
KRL: What are your most urgent needs right now and how can people help?
SNMR: Our most urgent need is money to pay veterinary costs.
KRL: Is there anything you would like to add?
SNMR: We are proud of everyone who has donated to our small rescue either in time, money, or material things. We are constantly humbled by the open hearts of people who take an interest in small animals and in our rescue.
KRL: What are your website URL, Facebook, and Twitter details?
SNMR: Our website is: saintnicholasmouserescue.com
Our Facebook is: www.facebook.com/pages/Saint-Nicholas-Mouse-Rescue/249951488548217
Easy Contact: SNMRVB@gmail[dot]com
Our address and phone are: 407 LAKE HAVASU DRIVE, VIRGINIA BEACH, VA 23454 USA
Donation link: saintnicholasmouserescue.com
KRL: The mission statement for your rescue?
SNMR: To rescue (mice and rodents) from situations that are abusive, endangering, and neglectful;
To inform the public of these situations in order to put a stop to animal abuse and irresponsible breeding;
To provide foster homes for these animals;
To place rescued animals into permanent adoptive homes;
To provide necessary veterinary care; and
Maintain a home-based shelter for rescued animals.
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