by ViVien Hoang
ViVien Hoang is a volunteer with Rattie Ratz Rescue in the bay area of California. Each month KRL will be featuring at least one animal rescue adventure story, and every other month there will be one from Rattie Ratz.
Rattie Ratz will take in rats from all sorts of situations: rats from overwhelmed shelters, litters from “oopsy” pregnancies, and private intakes from owners who need to surrender them because of unforeseen, difficult life circumstances. These rats often run the gamut in terms of health and age, markings and colorings.
Fortunately, the majority of the rats are generally adoptable. They may be timid, or have picked up some bad habits, but with a little love and attention from our foster home network, these fuzzy faces are soon ready to attend one of our many adoption fairs. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a rat you have worked with form a bond with an adopter and find a home. We all love to celebrate a victory and a good story.
My current fosters are two brothers we’ve named Tempus and Fugit. When they came to us, they wanted to do nothing but hide. They hid in their hammocks all day and all night, only venturing out when they thought the coast was clear. The sound of our voices made them scramble back to the safety of their hidey-houses. If we stopped by the cage to say hello, they would turn around – instead of seeing their faces, we would see their back-ends. We affectionately nicknamed them The Butts. Tempus has started warming up to us, but Fugit, true to his name, still flees at the slightest signs of humans. We still have a long way to go…
The reality of animal rescue and fostering is that some rats we take in will never be ready for adoption. The volunteers at Rattie Ratz are not always aware of a rat’s history when we take them in and a lifetime of neglect or abuse may be too much for them to overcome.
Rats are assessed when they are rescued: Do they bite? Are they aggressive? Are they shy and frightened? Are they amenable to being picked up and cuddled? Those that just require some time to get used to humans are sent off to live with one of our dozens of foster homes located throughout the Bay Area for a stint of being spoiled and pampered. The rats that are more aggressive will go to our experienced foster homes to see if we can’t convince them that not all humans are bad. Many of them come around after a dedicated period of time with them–love, patience and kindness can be miracle salves to a scared soul.
But you can’t win ‘em all. Occasionally, a rat will come to us so frightened that there is nothing we can do. Other rats, because of mistreatment or neglect, have developed aggressive tendencies. Some rats are too sick or too old to be adopted. Since the goal of Rattie Ratz is to rescue, rehabilitate and adopt out pet rats, what do you do about the rats that cannot be adopted out?
Rattie Ratz has a sanctuary program, organized and run by its most dedicated volunteers. Rattie Ratz will never abandon an animal it has taken in and so the rats that cannot find a forever home in the general public will find its forever home among our volunteers. Sanctuary volunteers take in un-adoptable rats and provide a safe home for them to live out the rest of their days. The volunteers accommodate the rats’ special needs. Some rats require daily medicine or special handling, others just want food, water and quiet. Sometimes the rat can be integrated into the volunteers’ existing family of rats but other times they need to be kept in separate cages.
The sanctuary program benefits our adopters as well as there is no pressure to adopt out rats that are not ready. Foster homes are instructed only to adopt out animals that are truly ready and that are truly a good fit for a home. Whatever is required, our volunteers are up to the challenge.
No matter what a rat may be like, because of the commitment of the rescue and its volunteers and the generosity of our donors, all of our rats will always have a home.
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section & watch for more stories from Rattie Ratz every other month. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to Rattie Ratz.