Rat fan dismisses rotten rap
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