After our guide to where to buy rats from, you might be wondering how to find a good rat breeder, and how to choose which to get your rats from.
A good place to start is to look at breeders on the NFRS list. You can find registered breeders near you, and find out what varieties they are breeding for. Build a list of a few breeders who look interesting, and start your own research. Rat Care UK on Facebook and rat breeder review groups are a good place to start for a search of the breeder you’re considering to see what others say. Read a few reviews, and ask for people’s thoughts and recommendations. Knock any breeders with bad reviews off your shortlist.
Communication and homing
Your next stop should be to hit the online presence of your shortlist. Most breeders will have a Facebook page or a website. Reputable breeders rarely advertise on sites like Gumtree or Pets4Homes.
Expect to find information about getting on the breeder’s waiting list. Stay away from any breeder who does not ask you any questions about your set up, rat care knowledge or plans for introduction to other rats you may own. A good breeder seeks good homes. Avoid anyone who charges more for different varieties, ear positions or fur types. It doesn’t cost more to raise a different variety. Also avoid anyone who uses incorrect terminology or information, such as implying dumbo rats are a different breed.
Avoid any breeder who breeds for NFRS banned varieties (the NFRS bans certain kinds from showing, due to health issues associated with the lines). Reputable breeders don’t deliberately breed for hairless, tailless or black-eyed white rats.
Be wary of any breeder who cannot tell you about their lines and where they come from. Avoid any breeder willing to sell lone rats or very young kittens.
Visiting a breeder
Be aware that not all breeders will allow you into their rat room, especially if they have pregnant does. At a minimum though, you should be able to see pictures.
Stay away from any breeder that overcrowds cages, feeds nuggets or guinea pig food, or has cages that are too small or heavily soiled.
It’s important that you like the breeder you buy from. A good breeder is always trying to improve their lines, and to do that, they’ll need information from you. Expect to be asked for regular updates on health and temperament, and certainly expect to have to inform the breeder when your rat dies and what the cause of death was. These details help the breeder to improve their lines later on.
Your gut instinct can be very helpful. If something feels off, don’t buy from them.