Obviously its important to have funds available before hand for vet trips etc so what sort of amount would be ideal?
I get paid weekly, so I live week to week, but always make sure I have at least £60 to spare for vet's bills each week, as that will easily cover a routine vet visit like for baytril or a consultation and treatment, as well as a lumpectomy or castrate. It will cover the most common things, basically. But I know I can get more if needed, I just make sure thats the minimum I have available if needed. Thus far, in 13 years, I've never been unable to pay a vet bill.
But it depends what you can afford, so you must cap the number of rats you take based on your financial limitations. Thats what stops me having more; money. I have space, I have time, but I know it would get tight financially if I had 50 or more, so I try and keep it at around 40 or less. With rescue, you just don't know whats coming in. You can have rats that someone tells you are totally healthy, but when they arrive they can be in awful nick. Its happened to me many times, so 'unexpected' vets bills are far more common when you rescue, coupled with the fact that rescue rats tend to be less healthy than well bred rats. Im so used to going to the vet each week now that its just part of my normal outgoings and has been for so long that I just naturally budget for it without even thinking.
The rats just instinctively come first, and whatever is left after them is spent on the house/groceries.
I realise you need seperate air space so there would have to be a quarantine area, how does that work if you have rats already in quarantine and then take on more that require quarantine? Would you need another seperate air space?
My rats are in the shed outside, and I quarantine new arrivals, if needed, in the house. To do it properly, I think you would need a seperate air space for each group of newbies. I don't automatically quarantine, it depends where the rats have come from. If they're from a house that only has those specific rats, and has had for a long time, I don't tend to quarantine if they seem healthy. If they're from another trusted rescuer or friend, I don't tend to quarantine either.
I only really do if the rats come from the pets@home adoption center, or from a household where rats come and go, or have been in contact with other rats recently (and I don't know the owner personally) or are from unknown situations, like strays.
I've only ever had one virus in 13 years, and that was many years ago, likely from a p@h rat.
Is there a certain number of cages that is ideal to begin with, or does it just depend on how many rescues you end up taking in?
It depends on how many you end up taking in.
I think its different with you as you're actually intending to deliberately start a rescue. Whereas I, and a lot of people I know in the rat world, never really intended to do it; it just kind of got thrust upon us. I never planned to be a rescue, but as soon as the RSPCA found out I had rats, they began referring all the rats in the area to me, then word spread, and I began getting calls, and it just grew.
But it wasn't something I planned, really.
I just had two cages at first, one for boys, one for girls. But it grew as more rats arrived.
You may find in a lot of cases that people will give you a cage when they surrender a rat to you. I actually haven't paid for ANY of my current cages; they've all been handed over along with the rats. If anything, you might find you have too many cages and not enough room for them all. I have to put some in the loft, or even dump some at the tip if they're quite old and not useful secondhand.
A lot of people who are giving up their rats have no use for the cage anymore, and they can be a pain in the bum to store, particularly ones that don't fold down. So a lot of people are happy to just get rid of them.
Do rescues usually run as a charity or are they just a personal thing?
I believe that to be a registered charity, you have to be taking in something crazy like £1000 a year in donations. You also have to work with a set group of other people, maybe form a committee, I can't remember the specifics, but I do know that its not worth it for someone who just does it from home on a small scale.
I'll never see £1000 in donations, and I don't particularly want other people making decisions about my rescue, I'd much rather do it myself. If you're housing, say, 30-40 rescue rats, as I do, its just not worth getting charity status, in my opinion. If you have the money, and do it on a bigger scale, and have others working with you, it might be worth looking into. But for rat rescue, I think its better just to remain your own boss and spend that £1000 on the animals themselves!
I cant remember what other things I was wanting to ask now, so any other information on running a rescue would be much appreciated
My tip? Don't be scared to ask people who are handing rats to you for a donation if possible.
For so many years, I never did. I felt embarassed to do so. But now? You bet. I get increasingly annoyed with people who drop a rat on me that needs £50+ of vet care to get right, and don't offer me a penny to help. On many occasions, I've been to people's houses to pick up rats they don't want, and they've got a bigger house, wide screen tv, lots of lovely things I couldn't afford and they have the gall to claim they 'can't afford a donation'. It irks me.
Even £5 is a help.
The way I see it, when someone hands a rat to you, they're asking you to take responsibility for their mistake for the rest of it's life, and I don't think its unreasonable to ask for some financial assitance in that. It doesn't have to be loads, but definately say that you ask for a small donation to go towards the animal's care where possible.
Most people I take rats off do not give any kind of donation, and each new rescue I take in costs me, on average, about £50-£100 in its lifetime in vet's bills (some rats much more, some rats nothing at all), even if its only the £40 euthanasia fee when it needs it. All new arrivals are de-mited at the very least.
There is always the concern that someone will dump the rat rather than want to pay the donation (there are some extremely vile people out there, you will come to learn this, sadly) so I never insist upon it, but I suggest it. If someone doesn't want to, it doesn't mean I won't take the rat. If I suspect they will not take proper avenues to get it cared for, or I sense they don't care about the animal much, I'll just take it regardless.
But don't be embarassed to suggest a little donation
Also, be prepared for heartache. Lots of it. Be prepared to hate the human race on occasion; there have been people I've taken rats from that I walked out of the house despising because of their absolutely ignorance and disinterest in their animal.
Also, decide whether you intend to rehome the rats on, or keep them with you. Depending on your location, this decision might be made for you.
Where I live, good homes for rats are incredibly rare, so its hard and sometimes impossible to rehome them around here. So most end up staying with me.
If you're lucky enough to live in a bit more of a busy area, large city or rat friendly area, you'd have more luck.
I have a rule here that old, frail rats are never rehomed on; they always remain here, as do any rats with serious behavioural problems/aggression. Finding homes for well adjusted rats is hard enough, finding homes around here for 'problem' rats is like getting blood from a stone.
I also don't like oldies or emotionally damaged rats to have to be shifted around much. I like them to just come in, settle, and live their life.
I guess its hard for me to know what to say as I've been rescuing for over 8 years, and its such a normal part of my life and routine, that its easy for me to gloss over some things that are probably important to know, as they're just routine for me.
Im glad someone else is wanting to rescue though, as we always need more.
I think the burden on those of us who do rat rescue is so much because we are so rare, and a big problem is portioned out to only a few people (when compared to, say, dog or cat rescue where there might be a handful of dog or cat rescues in each town. You're lucky to find one
in any given town for rats).
The RSPCA don't want to know about rats, and 'general' animal rescues often don't have the specific expertise to deal with rats in the way a lot of rescue rats need. I do believe rats are always better off at a specifically 'rat' rescue than put into an 'all species' rescue as they just don't get the one on one care there in a lot of cases, in my experience.