An Inside Look into a Rat Rescue

Sep 20, 2014 | 2014 Articles, Animal Rescue Adventures, Rodent Ramblings

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.

Every organization, no matter how big or small, has a beginning. You often hear of global ventures starting in somebody’s garage, or billion dollar companies being born of a school project, a little idea or a problem that needed solving. Rattie Ratz: Rescue, Resource, and Referral are no different! The rescue was started in 1998 by Diane Nesom after she began posting her rat stories and her readers began contacting her about taking in their rats. Nesom quickly realized that while there were many cat and dog rescues, there were very few rat rescues and so Rattie Ratz was born.rescue

Rattie Ratz has grown significantly from its one-woman operation, with nearly three dozen volunteers and foster homes, a board of directors and a not-for-profit status. The organization rescues, rehomes or provides sanctuary to over 300 rats a year. That’s a lot of whiskered faces! How is it all done?

Like many not-for-profits, Rattie Ratz relies heavily on the time, efforts and love of their generous volunteers. Unlike city or government run shelters, Rattie Ratz does not have an “office” or office hours – instead, the group relies on volunteers who donate their free time after work or on weekends, rooms in their homes and on pet stores like the Walnut Creek Pet Food Express or Sunnyvale’s For Other Living Things for space for adoption fairs. Rattie Ratz isn’t our full time job, but it is our full time passion.rats

The group uses an online message group as well as emails and texting to organize what needs to be done that week. What needs to be done varies from week to week! Communication with all of its volunteers is one of the keys to success for Rattie Ratz.

Almost every week, volunteers drive across the Bay Area to pull rats from shelters, bring animals to foster homes or to meet potential adopters, deliver supplies and take our furry patients to the veterinarian if needed. A roll call is done for our human volunteers and rodent attendees of our regularly scheduled adoption events. That group is responsible for setting up the tables and booths and manning them, answering questions from the public and helping potential rat-owners find the right rattie match!

Not all of the volunteering involves direct contact with rats. Rattie Ratz is always available for educational seminars and community outreach. There is also a lot of administrative work required: business cards and brochures that need to be designed and printed, contact lists of shelters to be updated and keeping track of all the rats. Running a transparent and accountable not-for-profit means keeping good records, maintaining websites and donation pages, and filing all that boring (but necessary) paperwork!rats

If you’re interested in volunteering, please visit the Rattie Ratz volunteer page: No matter what the volunteers at Rattie Ratz are interested in doing, they will find a role that needs to be fulfilled and heartfelt thanks.

If you’re interested in adopting, remember that Rattie Ratz is run entirely by unpaid volunteers. We don’t have set business hours or a storefront for you to visit and you may see different faces from one adoption fair to the next, but the volunteers are truly the lifeblood of the rescue! Regardless of what we do for work or for play, all of the volunteers at Rattie Ratz are united by a love of rats and we would love to help you find your newest four legged friends!

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.

Vivien Hoang lives and works in the Bay Area, and has been active in the rat rescue community for a number of years. In her spare time, she enjoys writing and photography, checking out new restaurants, spending time with family and friends, and traveling to warm beaches.

1 Comment

  1. I found your FaceBook site & “liked” it! I so miss my ratties, but won’t have more until I’m retired. I just can’t deal with my babies dying every two to three years. This is the only drawback on having rats–their short little lives.


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