The problem with pet shops


The problem with pet shops

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Like many other rat owners, I’m against rats being bought or sold at pet stores. People who call for my rescue services and others who ask me online frequently want to know why this is. We’ll explain why on this page.

Making money is a pet store’s primary goal. They are first and foremost a company.

As a result, the staff frequently fails to provide the animals they have with the proper care, does not take the time to guarantee that they are adopted by loving families, and is painfully ignorant of the needs of each individual animal.

The animals themselves typically come from breeding facilities that produce a large number of animals annually without giving any consideration to the welfare, lifespan, or health of the animals they are raising.

The only difference between purchasing a rat from a pet store and a puppy from a farm is that the pet store serves as a middleman, transporting the animals from the mill to you.

Additionally, pet stores do a great job of fully concealing rodent mills’ existence, to the point that the majority of the general public is unaware they even exist.

To view pictures of a rodent mill, go here. Please be advised that although these images may distress some individuals, they accurately depict life in rodent mills. This is most likely where the rat you purchased as a pet came from.

living circumstances

Rats in pet stores are frequently kept in enclosures that are too small, on inappropriate substrate, and fed on a diet that does not meet their needs because a pet shop does not intend to keep its animals for an extended period of time and because large, interesting cages cost money and take up space.

All rats in pet stores receive the same feed, which is typically of low quality, regardless of their age. However, because of their extremely rapid growth rate, young rats need a diet that is slightly different from that of adult rats. This diet should be higher in animal protein. Babies that don’t get this extra protein may grow up underweight, undersized, and occasionally even starved. It’s not that they aren’t being fed; rather, it’s that they aren’t being fed adequately for their age, and this can affect the rat for the rest of its life.

The quantity of room an animal must have in a pet store must meet legal criteria. But regrettably, these requirements are the very minimum and in no way something to strive towards.

Therefore, it is perfectly lawful for a pet store to keep numerous rats in a tiny glass aquarium.

Glass tanks, which are no longer regarded as ideal housing for rats, are frequently used to keep rats in pet stores. However, they are cleaner, prevent trash from being dropped on the shop floor, prevent people from getting bitten by poking their fingers in, and allow customers to see the animals more clearly.

Because tanks in pet stores typically contain baby rats in overcrowding and poor ventilation, some pet shop rats already have upper respiratory issues before they ever go into their new home.

Additionally, these animals frequently experience customer interference and, in some circumstances, do not even have a spot to hide away when they need some peace and quiet. A steady stream of strangers passing by or children yelling and tapping on glass will be stressful for a prey animal.

Stress can weaken the immune system and make the rats more susceptible to sickness, especially in young animals, which are the majority of the stock in pet shops.

It’s not surprising that rats chose to spend the majority of the day in pet stores since they do offer them a place to hide. However, animals that remain hidden all day won’t entice consumers, therefore few pet stores give the rats a hiding place.

Poor breeding: In rodent mills, animals are kept in appalling conditions in order to quickly produce large numbers of rats. The typical rodent mill cage is seen below:

These cages are the same ones frequently used in laboratories to keep rodents. In some of these images, the rats in labs really appear to be more comfortable.

You can see another actual rodent mill setup below:

Rats are made to have babies all the time.

They can have a litter that is three weeks old, a fresh litter, and another pregnancy all at once because they are typically housed with the males all the time. The infants she will give birth to will be underweight, unhealthy, and frequently difficult to manage because the only time they will ever be picked up properly is when they arrive at their new homes.

Before they ever make it to the pet store, many more newborns perish.

The mother rats pass away early after living a pitiful existence as nothing more than breeding devices. They don’t have access to toys, stimulation, or much else besides space to lay about and give birth. When you consider how much more nutrition a pregnant or nursing woman requires, especially when she is being forced to produce so many babies, continuously, you can see how worrying it is that the rats are fed poor quality food.

It should be obvious that these are horrible living conditions for any animal, especially one as sophisticated as a rat.

However, if you ask a pet store where they get their animals, they won’t tell you it’s a business like this; instead, they’ll typically state “a local breeder” and try to persuade you that there are only a few litters produced annually and that the animals are all given excellent care.

You will be told no when you inquire about meeting these breeders or touring their facilities.

Do not let this deceive you. No matter what they tell you, any huge chain pet store will get its animals from a mill since they could not meet demand otherwise.

The poor health of the animals produced at the rodent mill is a different issue from the bad living conditions within the facility.

The rodent mills just breed a guy and a girl and wait for the offspring, unlike a reputable breeder who painstakingly selects the two healthiest, friendliest rats from the longest living genetic lines.

They don’t even know what health issues the parents may have, as you can’t know that unless you have meticulous records going back generations. They don’t even think about what they are breeding into the babies or what health issues the parents may pass on.

Rodent mill owners have little interest in investing the time and effort necessary to carefully breed for better health and temperament, so why should it matter to them if the rat dies young from a genetic disease? In either case, they have received their money. Rats from reputable breeders typically live longer and experience fewer illnesses than rats from pet stores.

Who they sell to is:

As if the rodent mill circumstances and widespread poor health and temperament were not enough to put you off pet stores for life, another issue with them is that they are unable to keep an eye on the people they sell their rats to.

A respectable breeder properly checks all prospective families, some seek for veterinarian referrals, and all reputable breeders will request the rat be returned to them at all times if it becomes unwanted.

In addition, reputable breeders frequently have waiting lists for rats that might last for many months, giving prospective new owners time to decide if they actually want the rat.

Breeders do not engage in impulsive purchasing.

Reputable breeders will stay in touch with the rat’s new owner throughout the animal’s life and keep track of any issues that may arise. In order to maintain track of the life spans of the rats they are raising, they also ask to be notified when the rat passes away.

In contrast, pet stores sell rats to anyone who can afford them, they don’t communicate with the owners, they only ask a few simple questions at most, and they have no idea where the rat will ultimately wind up.

Even though several large chain pet stores now advise purchasing rats in pairs, this is not always enforced, and all it takes is for you to claim that you already have a rat at home in order to leave with a lone one without difficulty; after all, no one is going to verify, are they?

This results in many rats being condemned to live in isolation.

There have been numerous instances where children as young as 13 have been able to stroll into a pet store and buy a rat without their parents’ knowledge, despite the fact that pet stores are not allowed to sell animals to anyone under 16 without a parent being present. In one of these situations that has recently come to light, the kids then attempted to drown the animal for amusement.

Many people buy rats from pet stores with the intention of breeding them and trying to make money on their own because pet shops have no limits on whether or not you can breed their animals once you buy them. There will inevitably be more diseased, poorly bred rats introduced into the globe as a result of this. Rat overpopulation is largely caused by the pet shop industry.

95% of the rats that rescuers claim to have saved originally originated from pet stores. Due to the breeder’s policy of bringing back any rats that end up being unwanted, rats from good breeders hardly ever end up in rescue.

Top-eared and dummies There is an odd misconception that dumbo rats and top eared rats are two different species that is spreading among pet stores. This peculiar phenomenon was begun by my dear friends at Pets At Home, who were one of the first major chains to realize this and start selling dumbos.

Not at all.

Both are the same species of rat, Rattus norvegicus. The position of their ears is the only distinction. It’s similar to claiming that a Doberman with cropped ears is a different species or breed from one with uncropped ears.

Yet on occasion, pet stores may inform customers that dumbo and top-eared rats cannot coexist. It’s evident that this is garbage.

Due to Pets At Home initially charging nearly twice as much for dumbo eared rats as they did for top eared rats, this misconception developed. Dumb rats were/are still viewed by the majority of the general population as a “novelty,” and people will pay more for anything they perceive to be “strange,” which is why this occurred.

Pets at Home charged twice as much for “rare dumbos” because they were well aware of this.

By convincing people that dumbos and top eared persons cannot coexist, more money is spent when two dumbos are purchased as opposed to one dumbo and one top ear. The same is true with hairless rats, which can occasionally be purchased from backyard breeders for three times the cost of a typical rat.

As a side note, dumbos and top ears are no longer sold separately in my neighborhood Pets At Home; the cost of both appears to be the same, and occasionally I’ve even seen them kept together in the same tank.

They do, however, still maintain a sizable notice board close to the rat enclosure that perpetuates the misconception that dumbos and top ears are two different species and states that dumbos can live up to an additional year.

Good breeders don’t provide pet stores. But my pet business gets its rats from a local breeder, not a mill, people will sometimes say to me. They informed me that the breeder is excellent.

Do not let this deceive you.

Just as no reputable dog breeder ever sells their puppies to the neighborhood pet store, no reputable breeder will ever sell their rats to a pet store.

A breeder is not reputable if they sell their young to a pet store. There are no exceptions, there are no two ways about it.

There are many reasons why reputable breeders avoid providing pets to pet stores.

  • Rats are monitored to see where they end up by good breeders. They communicate with the new owners frequently and receive reports on the rats’ well-being.
  • In order to determine the lifetime of their breeding lines, they also like to know when the rat dies. Good breeders devote their entire being to their breeding lines; they frequently spend years fine-tuning and polishing the lines. As a result, they are very protective of their animals and the homes in which they are placed.

    They wouldn’t give their rats to a pet store since they can’t personally inspect the homes, follow their rats’ movements, or develop a bond with the new owner.

    Good breeders take a personal interest in each and every rat they produce. When you are giving your infants to a shop to be sold to anyone who enters, this is simply impossible.

  • Good breeders are very aware of the significant negative effects that pet stores have on animal rescues and how the animals are sold in pet stores like things off a shelf. The idea of purchasing a life from a store as though it were a tin of beans is not one that any respectable, professional breeder would endorse. They respect rats far more than that.
  • Top rat breeders don’t sell their young to pet stores, much like elite dog breeders wouldn’t. Only dishonest “back yard breeders” who don’t give their animals much attention sell rats to pet stores.
  • Since posting this article, I’ve received several letters, some of them irate, from people who claim their neighborhood pet store doesn’t sell rats from breeding facilities, so it’s okay to buy from them since “they’re different from other pet stores.”

    I have worked at one, therefore I am well aware that some very small pet stores may breed the rats on the premises. Naturally, a smaller pet store doesn’t need to purchase from mills because they only sell a small portion of the rats that a chain like, say, Pets At Home sells annually. Usually, they can adequately meet demand by only producing a few litters of their own per year.

    However, raising rats properly is expensive and requires a lot of skill and devotion; does your neighborhood pet store obtain its foundation stock from reputable, healthy lines? Are they only breeding the healthiest and most amiable rats? Do they maintain track of each rat they sell and each litter of rats they produce in order to determine whether any health problems exist in their stock? Do they breed rats to increase their longevity, health, and disposition, or do they only do it to produce animals to sell? You should think about each of these factors. While using rodent mills is preferable to tiny pet stores that produce a few litters a year for sale, this does not mean it is a good practice to promote.

    I believe that buying rats from a trustworthy breeder or rescuing them are the only two truly moral methods to do so. Your donation helps more animals in need when you rescue. Your purchase from a breeder helps that breeder continue to make improvements to the health and wellbeing of rats. Your money gets into the proprietor of the rodent factory when you purchase from a pet store.


    As you can see, pet stores prioritize making money over the welfare of their rats. Most people will cut corners if they can.

    If they can sell an animal for a little bit more money by marketing it as something “special,” they will.

    You are encouraging and tolerating the living circumstances the rats in the mills endure by purchasing rats from pet stores.

    The business makes room for one more kid from the mill to move in and take its place for every rat it sells. We just cannot support a business that is creating thousands of rats that will go on to suffer short or sickly lives and break the hearts of many people, while also adding to the massive overpopulation of rats that are already in shelters, abandoned, and in desperate need of homes.

    Rats that you see at rescue shelters predominately came from pet stores. A rat is simple to obtain, get bored of, and discard because anyone can walk in and buy one on a whim without worrying that anyone will be “checking up on them.”

    Almost all of the rats I’ve rescued came from pet stores, and most of them were especially from Pets At Home.

    And for those whose backgrounds I do not know, it’s likely that they were also pet store rats.

    Only twice have rats from reputable breeders ended up with me as rescues; in both instances, neither breeder was aware of it and the prior owner had not informed it. When they learned, they immediately offered to give their rats back.

    If your kids were bored with the rats after a year, would a pet store gladly accept them back? Of course not, given that adult rats have zero potential for resale profit and instead incur costs.

    What can we do?

    How then can you protest this abhorrent trade? Easy.

    Don’t spend money at pet stores.

    This rule applies to all purchases, therefore stay away from shops that sell animals if at all feasible. If at all feasible, purchase your accessories from internet retailers or pet stores that don’t sell live animals.

    Even if you don’t purchase a rat from a store, if you enter and spend £20 on toys and food, you are still helping the rats. In the actual world, avoiding massive pet chains won’t always be achievable, but it’s a good goal to have.

    If people let it be known that they do not want rats and other animals sold like objects, it will become rare to see rats and other animals in pet stores, just as seeing puppies and kittens in pet shops used to be usual but is now very uncommon.

    Despite how difficult it may be to comprehend, if you buy a rat from a pet store because you feel bad for it, you are ultimately just supporting the continuance of this cruel treatment. Stop paying pet stores for animals, and they will finally wake up and realize there is no value in selling animals.

    Rats won’t be sold if enough people stop buying them, therefore things are progressively changing. Some retailers have stopped selling particular species due to poor demand.

    Yes, it can be challenging to resist the rats in the store. Even the best of us have occasionally made the mistake of purchasing a rat from a pet store despite knowing better; this has happened to me a few of times. It can be challenging for a rat enthusiast to ignore a rat in need. However, the rat mill will demand another one in exchange for each one you purchase.

    Knowing where pet store rats come from is crucial, and we should try to avoid buying them whenever we can., Inc. or one of its affiliates owns the trademarks for Amazon and the Amazon logo.


    What happens when you return a pet to PetSmart?

    You have 14 days from the date of purchase to return one of these animals if you find yourself in this scenario. You must return the animal and any paperwork you received, as well as the original receipt.

    Does PetSmart let you return fish?

    If you’re unhappy with a product you bought in the shop, just bring it back to any PetSmart location in its original packaging and in brand-new or saleable condition.

    What does Petco do with returned fish?

    We will offer you a refund or exchange and dispose of it for you if you return it dead within 30 days. If it has been longer than 30 days, we won’t give you a refund, but if it is still alive, we will adopt it out for cheap, and if it is dead, we will dispose of it for you.

    What does Petco do with returned animals?

    If a pet is returned to the store, it will be given back to the originating group, which will decide the best next step to get the creature adopted. Petco and Petsmart have agreements with local shelters and rescues (often for cats, dogs, and occasionally small pets like rabbits);

    What happens when you return a fish?

    “The amount of blood that is circulated throughout the body frequently causes the color of the fish to alter. When a fish experiences fear, the endocrine system in its body produces hormones from glands all over the body, which are then delivered to the target cells to relay information throughout the body. Feb 23, 2017


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    Sarah Green

    Wildlife and Nature Fan & Author