1 - Vol. 4 issue 4 February 2007
Vol. 4 issue 4
The Estuary Rat Club Newsletter
The ERC newsletter is published four times a year. Contributions are welcome at any time,
contributors are advised to keep a copy of any material submitted. If you would like your articles
or drawings returned please include a stamped addressed envelope.
All items must be free from copyright and their use is at the Editor’s discretion.
The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of the Editor or the Committee and accuracy of
statements is the responsibility of the author.
The contents of the ERC newsletter are copyrighted (unless otherwise stated) and may not be
reproduced in any form without the written permission. © ERC
If you wish to advertise in the Newsletter please contact the Editor for details of the current rates.
ERC Committee 2006/2007
Joanna Pierre, 124 North Road, Westcliff-on-Sea, Essex, SS0 7AG
tel: 01702 300453 e-mail: [email protected]
Emma Sims, 55 Maitland Road, Wickford, Essex, SS12 9PU
tel: 01268 571928 e-mail: [email protected]
Paula Hunter, 80 Monkwick Avenue, Colchester, Essex, CO2 8NE
tel: 01206 523633 e-mail: [email protected]
Mark Sutton, 30 Silverdale Road, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN4 9JA
tel: 01892 682980 e-mail: [email protected]
Lian O’Sullivan, 19 Wordsworth Close, Harold Hill, Romford, Essex, RM3 7PD
tel: 01708 379820 e-mail: [email protected]
Nick Lockett, 18 Seagers, Hall Road, Great Totham, Maldon, Essex CM9 8PB
tel: 01621 891090 e-mail: [email protected]
Nadine St. Claire
Let’s keep up the
National Fancy Rat Society
P.O Box 24207
For many of us the Club has been buzzing
with activity and it’s easy to forget that
those members who do not attend shows
or access the forum may get the
impression that we are not very active.
Lian’s review of our history shows just
how much we have done and how much
we have developed in three years or so. In
particular it draws attention to the way in
which the newsletter has presented a wide
variety of information and entertainment
to members. However it’s important to
remember that the output can only
represent the input - and input is a bit
scarce. If the idea of writing a structured
article seems daunting to you, why not just
send in a comment on a past item and start
For a membership form please
send a sae to the above address or
print the form from the web site.
NFRS membership forms will be
available at all ERC events
Lian also mentioned an early suggestion
that we should publish something about
cages. Coincidentally, in this issue, Emma
gives us her opinion of a number of
commercially available cages based on her
From the Membership Coordinator
Socials for 2007
The ERC: A Review
Do you have any photos or videos
which could be put in the ERC archive?
We are particularly looking for material
from the early days of the ERG/ERC.
Choosing a Cage
After all this Time
If you have please contact Jo.
Cover picture: Guinevere tries to hide
from the camera.
From the Membership
The Estuary Rat Club
Views from a founder member
As I sit here at my computer, looking
through old documents I have on a
memory stick I came across the ‘old’
newsletters that the Estuary Rat Group
use to produce. The ERC has grown
and developed so much since its first
‘social’ in August 2003. The ERG’s
first newsletter was produced in May
2003 and advertised the ‘social’ to be
held at Joanna Pierre’s house. Do you
remember that day Jo and the days
leading up to it when we worried in
case no one turned up!!!!!!
This has been a quiet quarter with just one
new membership: Miss Tilly Hogrebe
from Tunbridge Wells. A warm welcome
I hope you all had a good Christmas and
are looking forward to a good new year.
I look forward to seeing you and your
friends at our show in Tunbridge Wells
(the first in Kent) on the 25th March. We
hope to have radio Kent in attendance as
well as all the usual events and competitions. Full details are on page 6.
The second issue of the newsletter
was produced in July 2003 reminding
all of the forthcoming ‘social’ and
also including an article written by Jo
about her first rat, one written by me
on the filming my rats did for the
children’s programme Brilliant
Creatures, and a ‘Grow your own
Treats’ article from Veronica with an
offer of lemon balm cuttings. Tina
had sent an e-mail asking for people’s
thoughts and views on a variety of
subjects from ‘what do you feed your
rats’, to ‘what type of cages do they
live in’. Perhaps this is something
that we could again discuss in the
Socials for 2007
It seems a long time since we had a social
event and Jo is anxious to fit one in before
all weekends get taken up by shows. Even
in April there is now only one suitable
date and that is Sunday the 8th. It will be
in Great Totham. Apologies for the very
Many of you already know that due to
other commitments, Lian feels unable to
continue as Events Co-ordinator for the
ERC. It is an important function and
currently we have other committee
members juggling two jobs. We also have
another club member willing to stand for
election to a vacant committee post.
Therefore we are aiming to combine the
April social with a (very short) EGM to
ratify a modified committee. This is seen
as preferable to continuing in an uncertain
way until the AGM next August.
Issue 3 which covered August/
September 2003 had details and
photos from the first ‘social’.
There was an article from Jan Everett
on how she became a ‘RAT-FAN’ and
an article on Tamoxifen and
Toremifene by Tracey Reeve.
If anyone would like copies of these
back issues I’m sure that this can be
arranged for a small charge! The
newsletter has come along in leaps
and bounds and is now produced by
Nick Lockett: many thanks for all the
hard work you put in Nick.
The Estuary Rat Club doesn’t now
just have ‘social’ events. There are
agility events at NFRS Shows as well
as at ‘socials’ we have an ‘Annual’
show in November each year (which
this year will be a one star show). Our
first show in Tunbridge Wells is in
March this year, and again we have
been invited back to Parham Park in
June for our Agility & Pet show. This
will be our third year at this venue.
Ann Storey & Joanna Pierre
at the first ‘social’
(Jo you haven’t aged a bit!)
Should anyone wish to open their
house for a ‘social’ event in 2007,
please get in touch. Contact details
are inside the front cover of Ratlines.
Issue 4 October 2003 had several
articles written by Jan Everett,
including the house trained rat, rats of
my own and the cost of prescription
medicines. Nadine StClaire had
written an article on what complex
creature’s rats are, and Nick Lockett
had written about malocclusion in
rats, complete with photo.
The Club has grown and we now have
around 40 members, merchandise for
sale in the form of key rings, mugs &
pens, these are available from ‘social
events’ and ERC shows or by
contacting our promotions person
Issue 5 November/December 2003
featured the ERG logo winner (this
can still be found on the back of
Ratlines), a ‘thank-you’ for the pet
cups donated by Julie Oliver, which
are still in existence and are awarded
at the ‘Annual’ show each year for the
following Pet classes Best Adult
Owned Buck, Best Adult Owned Doe,
Best Juvenile owned Doe & Best
Juvenile Owned Buck. There were
articles from Veronica (Rats for
Christmas) & Nicky Evans (My
introduction to rodents).
So the ERC will be 4 years old this
year, and has gone from a Group to a
Club, just having ‘socials’ to having
shows and agility events as well, The
ERC even has an internet forum (there
is a link to it from our website) so if
you haven’t subscribed to this why not
do so today? Remember that this is
your club and needs your ideas and
assistance to help it develop and grow.
ERC Pet, Variety & Agility Show
Sunday 25th March 2007
Location: Toc H Hall
78 Cambrian Road
Tunbridge Wells TN4 9HJ
Doors Open at 10:30
Variety and Pet Judging starts 11:30
Agility starts 12:00
Judge: Lian O’Sullivan
Classes: As per N.F.R.S Show Schedule,
exception: all Dumbo’s to be shown in their own class/show.
Rosettes: 1st – 5th Supreme Challenge, Best Self, Best marked, Best A.O.V,
Best Stud Buck, B.I.S, R.B.I.S & B.O.A.
Dumbo’s: 1st – 5th place
Judge: Emma Sims
Classes: Adult owned Buck, Adult owned Doe, Juvenile Owned Buck,
Juvenile Owned Doe, Adult Challenge, Juvenile Challenge and Supreme Challenge.
Rosettes: 1st – 5th in Adult Challenge, 1st – 5th in Juvenile Challenge
1st – 5th Supreme Challenge, Best in Show, Reserve BIS & B.O.A Pet & various specials.
Agility run by Christianne Friend and others as available
Classes: Adult Owned Doe, Adult Owned Buck, Juvenile owned Doe,
Juvenile owned Buck
Rosettes: 1st – 5th in each class & various specials.
Entries for agility taken on the day – 70p per rat.
Entries for Pet & Variety Classes - £1.00 per rat
Entries Close: Wednesday 21st March
E-mail entries should be sent to the Show Secretary, Elaina Friend
at [email protected]
or by post to 1 The Willows, Wamil Way, Mildenhall, Suffolk IP28 7QJ
Phone 07711 098587
There will be a Raffle (please donate a prize) and other games and competitions
Refreshments: hot and cold drinks, toasted sandwiches etc. will be available.
they would run around downstairs,
usually heading for the lounge (they
live in the dining room). Fizzle was
the exception. She went straight
upstairs and I could hear her
scampering around from bedroom to
bedroom. I never discovered what she
was actually doing. She never left any
trace of having been there, and when I
rattled the food bowls and called her
she would almost immediately come
downstairs and go back to her cage.
A rat with a talent
Losing a rat as a result of old age or
disease is sadly an all too common
event. Because of this I usually resist
the temptation to write a eulogy but in
Fizzle’s case I’m making an
exception. She had a talent which, in
my experience, was unique.
I suppose I ought to get to the point
and describe her special quality. If I
had new rats who were not
accustomed to being out of their cage
they would often hide somewhere and
not go home with the others. Fizzle
was the answer. I had only to put her
on the floor in the room where I
suspected a rat was hiding and she
would be off, searching every nook
and cranny, until she found it. She
must then have had a brief
conversation because when she
emerged, more often than not the
hiding rat would follow her. She
really saved me an enormous amount
I first saw Fizzle in the pet department
of a garden centre. She was alone in
her cage hiding her face in a back
corner. She was very small presumably the runt of a litter. To be
fair to the garden centre her cage was
clean and she had adequate food and
water. I wasn’t really looking for
more rats at the time but decided that I
would go back in a weeks time to see
if Fizzle was still there. She was: in
the same position in the same cage. I
made some enquiries and discovered
that the rats were being bred on the
premises and that later litters had been
sold and even pre-ordered. Deciding
that if I didn’t buy her then nobody
would I paid my five pounds and took
Fizzle developed a tumour that was in
a difficult place. She lived with it for
several months but it recently grew to
such an extent that she had to be put
to sleep. I’m now on the lookout for
another rat with a herding instinct.
She earned her name when I first
handled her. She bounced and
wriggled so much she that reminded
me of a fire-cracker. She never tried
to bite but being cuddled was not
something she approved of. She
integrated with her cagemates without
problem but was always fiercely
When the rats were out their cages
Choosing a cage.
Cages come in many shapes and sizes,
so you need to decide where it will be
situated. For example, you may have
an area that you can go high, but not
wide or vice/versa. But bear in mind
that rats do like climbing room, so
single storey cages or rabbit cages do
not make suitable cages for active
rats. They are better suited to older
rats with mobility problems or for
nursing does and their kittens.
When I first started keeping rats, there
were very few suitable cages on the
market – one of the only “rat” cages I
saw was a Pennine rat cage, which
used to be Pet’s at Home’s rat starter
kit. (Thankfully, they have moved on
from this awful, tiny cage, although it
is still sold in Wilkinson’s!)
Anyway, this meant my first rat cage
was actually a bird cage, and I had
some Perspex cut to size as shelves.
Looking back, I did quite well for a
first time owner, but my cages have
grown in size considerably since those
Bucks or does.
As a general rule, bucks enjoy more
floor space, whereas does like height
to climb. Also consider the bar
spacing – wider bar spacing often seen
on Ferret and rabbit cages, can be a
problem with small does and kittens,
as they can squeeze through!
So how do you choose a good cage?
There are many considerations to take
Bucks or does?
How many rats should it hold?
How well will it last?
How much free-range time the
How many rats?
The more rats you have, the bigger the
cage you need. There is a cage
calculator on the Fancy Rats website.
You can put in the dimensions of your
cage, and it will tell you how many
rats it is suitable for. I have always
found it a little generous though – for
example, it will tell you that a Freddy
cage is suitable for 4 rats, but I would
only put 3 rats in one – at a push.
The golden rule is to always buy the
biggest cage you can – your rats will
be happier with lots of space. After
all, you wouldn’t be happy if you
were confined to one room all day!
The minimum size of cage I would go
for, even for just two rats would be
the Critter 2 or Terenziani Michelangelo. This measures 70cm x 44cm x
Below, I will explain the above points
in more detail…….
These cages are made up of a coated
mesh, so are good for small rats and
kittens. They also have the advantage
of having metal bases, which is a good
thing if you have chewers! Both the 2
level and 3 levels versions make good
homes for rats, but the single tier one
is too small as a permanent home – I
have one for my rats to lounge in at
shows!! They also pack flat which
can be useful.
How well will it last?
Try to go for a powder-coated cage if
you can. Cages with plain metal bars
tend to get smelly and rusty very
quickly – the Ferplast Jenny is a prime
example of this problem! Quality
wise, most of the major manufacturers
are good, and I have not really had
quality issues with any of the cages
I’ve had, other than rusty bars on a
This is pretty obvious really, but if
you can’t have your rats out every
day, then buy the biggest cage you
can. My boys don’t get out every day,
but have a 5-foot tall cage to
The cost of cages varies considerably
from shop to shop. The best way, is
to search the Internet. When looking
recently, I found a cage on one site for
£45, and on another - £80!!!! Also,
try e-bay, or the market place on the
Fancy rat’s forum, as you can often
get some really good bargains.
Terenziani Michelangelo. This cage has
had the wire shelving removed and
replaced with Ferplast corner shelves.
This is currently home to 2 does.
(Owned by Jan Everett)
What cages are readily available?
The two most popular “rat” cages on
the market are the Ferplast Jenny,
and the Savic Freddy (both available
from Pets at Home.) The Jenny is a
good cage, but does tend to rust.
Although the Jenny is larger, if you
only have a couple of rats, the Freddy
is a better option. Is has the same
footprint of a Jenny, but is a little
shorter. The Freddy has good access,
The Critter cages are a good starting
point as they are cheap and versatile.
The Terenziani cages are virtually the
same, but a little dearer, and some say
of superior quality. There is also
another similar brand called the
and is coated – in my opinion a great
all-round cage. If only they made
them a little larger to accommodate
than being in two halves.
They are great value cages too,
although they can be hard to get hold
of (E-bay and Zooplus are the only
places I have found)
Ferplast also make some fantastic
ferret cages – the Furet XL and the
Furet XL Tower are lovely cages,
although they have a large footprint
(80cm x 75cm) so may not be suitable
for all rooms!
The only disadvantage is that this cage
is not so good for kittens or small
does, due to the wider bar spacing.
Aviaries make fantastic rat homes,
and are good for does, as they usually
have narrow bar spacing, and have
good height. Always be sure to break
long drops with hammocks and
shelves though! One of the most
popular brands for these is Ferplast the Duetto and Brio ranges are both
There are several Superpet cages on
the market. These are excellent cages
– they are strong, powder coated, and
flat pack too – the one disadvantage
with them is the wide bar spacing –
but this shouldn’t be a problem for
does of around 10-12 weeks old, and
bucks over about 8 weeks old. The
Multi-floor version is huge, and would
make a fantastic home for up to 10
My favourite of all cages though, are
the Marchioro “Tommy” cages. I
have the 102cm long one, and also the
82cm long version. Both of these
cages are around 5 foot high, and are
split into 3 levels. This is good if you
ever need to split your group.
Marchioro Tommy 82T cage. I have only
used 2 parts of the cage, and have
removed one of the bases, making it into
one large space. I currently have 4 bucks
living in this cage.
You also don’t have to use all levels at
once. One of my Tommy’s currently
only has two of the levels on, but I
have also taken out the middle base,
so it makes it one large cage, rather
And finally, there are also some good
options available for oldies and
nursing mums! For oldies, the large
rabbit cages are good options, and
these are readily available.
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Savic Ruffy cage. Currently home
to a doe and her litter.
I could go on, but I hope that has
given a brief run-down of the
available options for various
Marchioro Tommy 102T. This shows all
3 levels of the cage, with the separate
floors/bases in place between the levels.
I currently have 5 bucks living in this.
They are not suitable for nursing
mums though, as the bar spacing will
be too wide. Two cages that are
suitable for does and their kittens are
the Ferplast Mary, and the Savic
Ruffy. Both of these are the same
size – the only real difference is that
the Ruffy is powder coated. (Both of
these cages make a good home for
You can also use a plastic tank for
nursing does such as the “Zoozone”
range, but in my experience, and from
talking to others, some does can find
these a bit restricting, so I am now
opting for the Ruffy for mums and
The Fancy rats website
(www.fancyrats.co.uk) has reviews
for most of the cages I have mentioned, and is an excellent resource
when cage hunting!
The following websites are also well
worth a look:
www.zooplus.co.uk - for Marchioro
www.petcentreonline.co.uk - for
Critter cages amongst others
www.surreypetsupplies.co.uk cheapest prices on Superpet cages
www.acrorats.co.uk - sells cages and
www.ratwarehouse.co.uk - again,
various cages, and anything else
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After all this Time
On 18th October 2004 the Colchester Evening Gazette published this shocking news:-
Clacton: Rats! What a dreadful impression
Rats are causing concern for residents who say they are spoiling the area
and giving a bad impression to visitors to the town. Rats have been
spotted in the Marine Parade East Clacton area of the seafront. One
resident said: “I have seen many visitors look in disbelief at rats running
round in broad daylight”.
My reaction to this was almost certainly not what the newspaper would have expected. I
showed the piece to my daughter, Emma, and her reaction was the same as mine: “Why on
earth can’t the ratties be allowed to enjoy a day at the seaside like everyone else?”.
We knew that it was crying out for a cartoon and spent hours trying to produce one. But
we were lucky if we managed to reproduce anything resembling a rat - let alone a rat
engaged in a human activity. To cut a long story short, we gave up.
Then on Christmas Day 2006 I opened a surprise package. There was the cartoon I had
wanted for so long - mounted and framed.
This was created by David O’Connell, previously one of John Lewis’s IT support team, but
now working in Amsterdam trying to make a living as an illustrator.
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Another picture from the archives of the first social event at Jo’s house
Do you remember Kojak from the last issue? He’s a bit bigger now! (Emma’s photo).
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Throughout the lifetime of the ERG/ERC members have shared information about where to
get food and bedding in bulk and at good prices. Some of this information is on the
website but that is now rather out of date. Newer information is dotted around on the
forum so this is an attempt to collect together the most useful stuff.
Alpha Herbal Deluxe
Aquatic and Pet Shop
Basildon SS14 1EU
Tower Animal Feeds
Tower Business Park
Tiptree Essex CO5 0LX
Note: Payment by
cheque or cash. No
Breach Barns Lane
Waltham Abbey EN9 2AD
Grosvenor Pet Centre
53 Grosvenor Road
Kent TN1 2AY
Tower Animal Feeds
Ideal Bedding (chopped
Lynfords New Farm
Wickford SS11 7PS
Upson’s Farm Sales
Essex CM3 2JH
Safebed (paper wool)
Have a word with Elaina or me
(Nick). We get it direct from
the manufacturer at trade price.
Terenziani, Ferplast etc.
Emerson’s Pet Centre
1 Coldwell Street
Tyne & Wear NE10 9HH
Burgess Supa Rat Excel
0191 469 0090
This is by no means an exhaustive list. If you have something to add please send the
details to the editor. This can form the basis for a new web page.
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ERC Show & Event Calendar
Agility at the N.F.R.S Diss Show (t.b.c.)
ERC Spring Show, Tunbridge Wells.
Articles required for the Spring issue
of the Newsletter
Varieties, Pets and Agility
Pictures, Questions etc
Social event (including agility) Great
Send to Nick
18 Seagers, Great Totham, Maldon,
Essex CM9 8PB
Agility at the N.F.R.S Spring Cup Show.
The ERC Annual Show (now a one star
show). The Stanway Scout Hall is booked
for this event.
We have received repeat invitations to
Parham and Blackwater, and a new
invitation to attend a show at Tolleshunt
D’Arcy. We are also looking into the
possibility of getting an invitation to the
Barleylands Country Show near
If you know of a show near to where you
live where our rats might be welcome,
please let us know.
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