The Pet Directory Smal Animal Article - The Rodent Ranch

As published in The Pet Directory NSW & ACT Edition
by Cindy Cairns - "The Rodent Ranch" President NSWFRMC

Growing up, my family and I shared a love of animals. Over the years we owned dogs, cats, guinea pigs, rabbits, fish, birds, turtles, chickens, ducks, and just about anything else that could be comfortably accommodated in our suburban home.

Although it was my first pet mice, who came to live with me in 1978 that spawned my great passion for rodents!

My parents purchased these two mice for me when I was 6. I still remember them to this day! “Minty”, and “Strawberry”!! I think perhaps the fact that Minty had been dyed green, and Strawberry a lovely shade of pink might be the reason they have stuck in my memory so!! (It was a short-lived fad at the time with pet storeowners to dye their white mice a wonderful array of colours using food dye!)

I could hardly believe my ears...
" A mouse club?!!"

I owned several mice over the following years, and when I first left home in 1989 one of the first things I did was to scour the pet stores for new cages, and new rodents! This is when I first discovered pet rats!

My first pet rat was a pregnant black hooded female named Rosie, who gave birth to 18 little black hooded babies about 12 days after we brought her home! From this point on my rat addiction was sealed!

Like mice, I found my rats to be wonderful pets, full of fun and mischief! And whilst I loved owning, breeding and playing with my mice, the rats did have a little more to offer in the personality department! I loved that the mice came in such a huge array of colours and markings, but I found the rats to be a lot more interactive (more like owning a tiny dog at times!!). So from that point onward I decided the only option was to keep both species!

I was browsing a pet store many years later (something I would do often!), looking for a new rattie for my then 3 year old Daughter Melanie, when I stumbled across a gorgeous little mouse that looked like it had just gone 10 rounds with a tumble dryer! At that stage I had never seen a mouse with such long hair! Of course I went immediately to the store attendant and asked her to box him up as he was coming home with me! As I stood at the counter watching her tape up the box, we started chatting about how cute this little guy was. She said that he had come from a breeder nearby who belonged to a “mouse club” and she often brought in cute and unusual mice!

Well… I could hardly believe my ears… “A mouse club?!!” I knew from that moment on that this mouse club was a place that I needed to visit (and a place I was sure I was going to love!)

I spent weeks trying to find out about this club, but was finding it very difficult to locate. Then just as I was beginning to think that this “mouse club” may not exist, another pet store owner said that they had seen some mice at The Sydney Royal Easter Show earlier that year, and suggested that I ring the Royal Agricultural Society and enquire about them.

I rang the RAS, and thankfully they had a contact for The NSW Fancy Rat & Mouse Club. I rang the NSWFRMC straight away to make enquiries… and before I knew it I was piling my animals into the car, and excitedly attending my first rat and mouse show!!

I joined the NSWFRMC in October 1997, and registered my rattery/mousery as an official stud! After a lot of thought I decided to call my stud “The Rodent Ranch”.

I was voted in as President of the NSWFRMC in January 1998 (I’m still not quite sure how that happened!!!), and judged my first show in March 1998. I have been President ever since, along with occupying the positions of Club Treasurer, Chief Judge and Co Editor Of the Club Magazine Twitches!

I have appeared on Television several times with my rats and mice (Totally Wild, Creature Feature, Pets Behaving Badly... once as a pet owner, and again as a behavioural specialist, etc), and have done several radio interviews and appeared in newspaper articles.
I went to The Richmond College of Technical And Further Education in 2000 to begin study in Veterinary Nursing so as to be able to provide better care not only for my own animals, but to be able to offer better health care advice to the members of the Rodent Loving Community.

I am proud to say that I attained wonderful results in my Nursing courses, and received the Pro Vet NSW award for excellence two years running! I then took up the position as Head Nurse of our local Veterinary Clinic, and worked closely with a Veterinarian who had practiced with small animals for many years whilst overseas. It was a wonderful experience! We performed many surgeries on rats and mice over the time that I worked there, including tumour removals, desexings, Caesarian Sections and Ovariohysterectomies, all of which I found truly fascinating! Whenever a rat or mouse needed to visit the clinic, my employer would always book it in for a day that I was working so I could assist her with the consultation!

I have since completed several other courses in animal health, nutrition and behaviour, and have been RSPCA approved for small animal rescue! (We actually run a rescue service called Sydney Small Animal Rescue, where we take in unwanted or abandoned rats and mice and other small animals, and care for them until such time that we are able to find them permanent, loving homes!)

We here at The Rodent Ranch now have one of the largest and most varied private collections of fancy rats and mice in the country. We breed every variety of rat available including the Manx (tailless), Silky (semi-longhaired), Odd Eyed (Rats with two different coloured eyes) and the Rex (Curly haired), in a veritable rainbow of colours and markings. We were also the founding breeders of the Downunder Rat Variety, which have since been shipped the world over! (The first ever Downunder marking appeared on a Hairless rat I bred some 6 years ago!)

"I could never imagine a life without these fascinating animals in it"

We breed mice in all colours, markings and coat types also, with my personal favourites being the Longhaired Rex, the Hairless, Manx, and Siamese varieties!

I adore my tiny pets, and their ownership has rewarded me in more ways than one. I have learned a lot from them, and about them over the years. They have provided me not only with a rewarding interest, but their ownership has provided me with many wonderful opportunities along the way.

They make the most fabulous pets for people of all ages, and are wonderful companions for people living in apartments or smaller dwellings. They don’t bark at the neighbours, or chase the postman, and they are inexpensive to keep and feed! And the rats are so intelligent that they can easily be trained to do basic tricks, and to come when they are called (which is more than my dog does!!)

In addition, both mice and rats come in such an extraordinary range of colours, markings and coat types, that there is something to suit just about everyone!

I could never imagine a life without these fascinating animals in it, and look forward to many more years of discovery and wonder with them!


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