Will This Be The Year Of The Down Under Rat?

The upcoming AFRMA Rat And Mouse Show is a chance for people to learn about pet rats and mice, and this show might lead to a new variety being recognized.

winning rat
© Geri Hauser 
This Down Under rat won first place in the Black Vari-Capped category at the January 2015 AFRMA show. Her name is CSR Isabelle, and she is owned and bred by Nicole Marlin of Country Song Rattery.

Have you ever been to a rat and mouse show? If not, the buoyant energy and inescapable cuteness of these pets await you this weekend at the American Fancy Rat And Mouse Association Show. It takes place April 25, 2015, from 11 to 4 p.m. at the Woodcrest Community Center in Riverside, California. This type of AFRMA show usually happens only four times a year and each is a real treat because of the sheer number of rats and mice to see. 

If you just want to observe, make your weekend plans now. If you have a mouse or rat that you would like to show, get moving! The deadline to enter is this Wednesday, April 22 at 6 p.m. Registration is done on the AFRMA website. There are pet classes and show (conformation) classes.

“We try to encourage kids and to encourage both mouse and rat showing by offering lots of different categories,” said Karen Robbins, president of the AFRMA and a show judge.

The rat Pet Classes include Most Affectionate, Most Laid Back, Rat Race, Curious Rat Table and many more. The mouse Pet Classes include Cutest, Friendliest, Most Unusual Markings and more. These are broken down into youth and adult categories, so children are not competing against adults.

The Show Classes include the numerous varieties and many colors, plus the unstandardized. There are just too many to name!

This show might (or might not) see the final presentation of the Down Under variety of rat in the process to get it standardized by the AFRMA. The distinctive features of the Down Under rats are the marking on the topside with a belly stripe or evenly distributed belly spots, depending on the markings. This type of rat originated in Australia in 1998 and was imported into the United States in December 2002, according to the AFRMA, but it is only in the last couple of years that rat breeders have pursued getting it standardized. 

A new variety of rat is a big deal. Bristle Coat is the newest variety of rat recognized by the AFRMA. It was standardized in December 2014. Previous to that, the most recently recognized variety was the Dumbo rat, which was standardized in 1998. Other recognized varieties are Satin, Hairless, Tailless, Rex and Standard.

I met Karen Robbins at this month’s America’s Family Pet Expo in Costa Mesa where the AFRMA had a display. She commented that the fur of a Bristle Coat rat feels very much like the fur of a Wire-Haired Terrier. 

More rats than mice are expected at the show, but Robbins said it’s impossible to know exactly how many rats or mice will be shown until registration closes, and there are still a couple of days left. She is expecting people from out of town and possibly out of state to attend. Watch the AFRMA Facebook page for reminders and information about the show. 

Besides seeing all the rats and mice and having a chance to shop for unique rat and mouse merchandise at the vendor table, why would Robbins recommend coming to the show? 

“To learn more about the animals from talking to the breeders, judges and show officials,” Robbins said. She added that it’s also an opportunity to purchase new pets.

Also, if you have a rat or mouse and don’t know it’s color or variety, or whether it might be show quality, entering is an opportunity to find out from the judges. But you must be entered to participate in the show.

“We don’t want people to just show up with their pet. They must be entered,” Robbins said. “That must be done by 22nd at 6 p.m.”

Anyone who enters their pet must actually arrive at 9:30 a.m. the day of the show, as they must check in and have their animals health checked. Those who do not have a pet entered should arrive after 10:30 but before 11 a.m. when judging begins.

My mom has never been a fan of rats, but when I took her to an AFRMA show she sat enthralled watching the antics of the rats and mice. Now it’s your turn!

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