Rat fan dis­misses rot­ten rap

Mt Druitt - St Mary's Standard (East) - - NEWS - Maryanne Taouk

RATS scur­ry­ing across the bed­room floor would ter­rify most peo­ple but for Kerri Clarke it’s an ev­ery­day oc­cur­rence.

The Stan­more woman is an avid pet rat keeper and says the “low main­te­nance” ro­dents don’t de­serve their bad rap.

Clarke bought her first rats 10 years ago from a pet shop and was in­stantly hooked.

“I saw them and thought they looked in­ter­est­ing and that they would be a dif­fer­ent kind of pet,” she says.

Her first pair of males named Rat­ti­cus Finch and Boo Rat­ley sparked Clarke’s love for ro­dents. Disco “Dizzy” Bis­cuit is her 10th and lat­est whiskered friend.

“Rat own­ers must be glut­tons for pun­ish­ment, be­cause rats don’t live that long and we keep go­ing back for more ev­ery time we buy a new one,” she says.

On av­er­age, do­mes­ti­cated or “fancy” rats have a longer life­span than their wild cousins, liv­ing for two to three years. Wild rats are known to live for less than a year.

Rats are gen­er­ally seen as so­cia­ble an­i­mals and are of­ten kept in pairs. Clarke bought Dizzy with his brother Jake, who re­cently passed away.

“Ev­ery two years we go through heart­break and tears, and I al­ways say that I’m never get­ting an­other rat, but af­ter a few months you no­tice that some­thing’s missing in your life and you have no choice,” Clarke says.

She adds rats are clean, self-sus­tain­ing, quiet and a good choice for peo­ple liv­ing in small apart­ments.

“They clean them­selves like a cat would, they’re not dirty or dis­eased and they’re very cheap. Dizzy cost me $15 and he was from a good rat breeder.”

Clarke says she can un­der­stand why some peo­ple see rats as scary or “gross”, but hopes peo­ple don’t get caught up in “neg­a­tive PR”.

“The fact that rats carry dis­ease is only true for sewer rats ... I’m not sug­gest­ing you go out and adopt a rat from the streets,” she says.

“All my pet rats have been great lit­tle char­ac­ters that can be trained.”

Kerri Clarke with her pet rat Disco “Dizzy” Bis­cuit. Pic­ture: Carly Earl

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