Thursday, November 5, 2015

AFRMA Fancy Rat And Mouse Day: January 21st

AlexK100 [CC-BY-SA-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

January 21st is AFRMA Fancy Rat And Mouse Day

The AFRMA (American Fancy Rat and Mouse Association) is a non-profit, international organization that was founded in 1983. It's members work together to promote the breeding of fancy rats and mice and they help educate breeders in the proper methods for raising healthy litters.
They also help educate pet owners in the proper care and handling of these cute little pets and help increase awareness of their unique qualities as companion pets.

The AFRMA also sponsors several competitive shows, similar to dog shows, throughout the year and they offer a newlsetter for members. The newsletter is titled, "Rat And Mouse Tales" and it includes medical and genetic information, articles and stories, a Q & A, and show rules and regulations.
Sounds pretty official doesn't it? And it should. Fancy rats and mice are more than just your garden-variety rodents. In fact, they've never even seen a garden. Instead, they're cute, domesticated little creatures, and they're just looking for a happy home and a caring owner.
Are you ready for a new pet?

Longhair fancy rat byssonya [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

What Are Fancy Rats and Mice?

Fancy rats and mice have been bred to the specifications of a breeding association, like the AFMRA or the National Mouse Club in England. They're not wild animals at all. They weren't captured in a barn or a field and then sold in a pet shop.

Fancy rats and mice are bred in captivity and they're completely disease free. And if you're worried about the rats that started the Black Plague way back when, forget it. Those rats weren't carrying the disease. It was the fleas that were riding along on those rats that carried it.

Typically, these rats and mice are larger and calmer than the rats and mice you buy in the pet store. However, they're just as playful and fun!

Again, fancy rats and mice are disease free and they carry no fleas, ticks or other parasites. They're genetically bred to highlight specific characteristics and they're the friendliest, most social little pocket pets you'll find.

A Rainbow of Colors

You'll find rats and mice in a rainbow of colors and a variety of coat types. There is no one color that makes the best pet. They're all equally Happy-Go-Lucky little guys.
Exotic colors include: Siamese, Blue, Silver Black, Silver Fawn, Lilac, Cinnamon, Black-eyed White, Cinnamon Pearl, Lynx, Silver Agouti, Silver Lilac, Blue Point Siamese, Capped, Variegated, and Blaze.
Some of the fancy colors include: Coffee, Cream, Beige, Silver, Dutch, Variegated, Siamese/Himalayan, and Spotted Tan.
Coat styles include: Satin (very shiny), Long Haired, Frizzie (curly coat), Hairless, or a combination of the above.

Housing Your New Fancy Mouse

Rats and mice are playful, active little creatures so make sure they have plenty of room to move around. And toys, too! Lots of toys!
Use hardwood shavings, paper shavings, or special bedding pellets in the bottom of the cage. Never use cedar or pine shavings. They may smell nice to you, but they're toxic for your pets.
You'll need a clean water bottle and a clean, sturdy, non-tip food dish. Your new pets will also love someplace to sleep. You can buy nesting material at your local pet store or, if you have access to it, mice love fresh hay. You can use a variety of household objects for sleeping boxes: toilet paper rolls, PVC pipe, butter tubs, etc.
A rodent's teeth never stop growing, which is why they're always gnawing on something. It's important to provide something they can chew on at all times - wooden gnawing toys, or even chew  sticks for dogs .

It's important to house your new pets in a cage that they can't gnaw through. But a simple wire cage can be too drafty.  The newer cages that have a hard plastic bottom with a raised edge help prevent drafts and their powder coated wires are gnaw-proof and resist corrosion. Plus, the removable plastic tray makes them easier to clean. The best way to make sure your new Fancy Rat or Mouse stays healthy and happy is to always keep his cage, toys and accessories clean!

Supplement Their Diet

You should always have clean, fresh food and water available at all times.
But your new-found friends will also enjoy a little variety.
Fancy rats and mice also like small amounts of:

  1. Salad greens
  2. Fresh fruit - especially bananas and avocado
  3. Fresh vegetables - especially raw broccoli and corn on the cob
  4. Whole wheat bread
  5. Dry, no sugar cereals
  6. Popcorn

How To Train Your New Pet

These little pocket pets are the ideal pet for you if you don't have the space for a dog or cat, or you don't have the time for housebreaking and leash training and all the other training that goes along with those larger, four-legged friends.

And they're excellent first pets for children. Dogs and cats can sometimes be a little demanding or aggressive around children but domesticated rats and mice are much easier to care for and they have a calmer personality. Once your children understand that the new fancy pet will only bite when they're scared or angry, and that even if they do it's just a little nip, then they'll have a fun-filled relationship with their new little pocket pet.

Fancy mice, and especially rats, can be trained just like dogs. They'll answer to their name, you can teach them to come when called, you can train them to sit, and run through a maze - they're highly intelligent little creatures!

But first, you need to bring your new pet home, introduce him to his new home, and let him relax and find his way around for about a week.

During the first few days, hand feed your new pet as much as possible. Simply place some food in the palm of your hand, hold you hand inside the cage and let him come to the food. In the beginning, it may take a while - don't push it. Let him sniff around your hand and get used to you and soon enough he'll feel comfortable.

Next, hold the food in your hand just outside the cage and call him by name. Eventually he'll feel comfortable enough to come outside his cage to get the food.
Always use your pet's name, just like you would when training a dog. And, just like a dog, rats and mice like to be rewarded with little treats while they're learning. Cheerios, especially! But don't be offended if you pet won't eat the treat you offer while he's sitting in your hand. Some rats and mice like to take their treats back to their cage because they feel safer there

You can even train your pet rat to ride on your shoulder and a pet mouse likes to ride in your pocket. Start by sitting quietly, next to his cage, a place the little cutie on your arm and coax him to your pocket or shoulder with a treat. Be careful, though. Move slowly until your pet gets comfortable. You don't want to scare the poor little guy and have him fall off. It doesn't take much to hurt these little guys.

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