It’s not a topic many of us will ever want to give much thought to – but a Rugby mum hopes her new book about rat breeding will be a hit.
‘The Rat’s Whiskers: An experience of rat breeding’ is written by Annette Rand. It follows two litters of rats from conception and birth through to their first outing to a rat show in Birmingham, returning with the trophy for Best In Show.
And while the subject may currently lack mainstream appeal, Annette is keen to emphasise the delights of the caring for the creatures.
She said: “Pet rats enjoy interaction with people.
“They’re really cheeky and funny, and can form a real bond with their owners. Every one has his or her own character.”
And Annette is keen to dispel perhaps the most enduring myth about the species.
She said: “Contrary to the stereotype, they are very clean and spend much of their waking hours washing themselves.
“They are very destructive though, and have damaged curtains, wallpaper and even the door frame in their room.”
Annette has almost 40 rats in six cages in a room of their own at her Blackwood Avenue home, and is a regular competitor at rat shows across the Midlands.
She started keeping rats as pets for her children in 2001, after they had asked for some hamsters. “I told them rats were better,” she said.
They began by adopting three rats and joining their local rat club. Annette has not looked back since.
In her new book, Annette invites fellow rat lovers to “share the wonder and privilege of watching these baby rats develop and grow from wriggling little jellybeans into intelligent and resourceful young ratlets”. It features more than 200 colour photographs.
Annette runs the website www.rattycorner.com and has written two books on how to look after the furry critters.
One passage from her latest work reads: “Baby rats are ‘altricial’, meaning that they are relatively undeveloped and need to be nursed and be cared for. The wonderful thing about this is that we can have the privilege of watching the early stages of development that would be hidden within an animal with more precocial young.”
‘The Rat’s Whiskers: an experience of rat breeding’ is published by Ratty Corner Publishing and costs £14.95. Visit www.rattycorner.com/books for more information.