Author Topic: Just curious: adopting lab rats?  (Read 17683 times)

Offline TheBandit

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Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« on: April 07, 2011, 09:49:18 PM »
Occasionally on this forum I see people mentioning that they own rescued lab rats... and I am intrigued. I did a quick google search as well as a search on the forum but didn't really come up with much info. How common are lab rat rescues? I read something about students rescuing rats from their university biology departments (rats that were no longer being / had never been studied, and would otherwise be euthanized)... Does anyone know anything about this?

I'm not in the market for more rats right now. Very comfortably maxed out with my little colony of four. But the idea of rescuing a lab rat is very appealing to me and is something I'd like to look into one day, so I'm just wondering if anyone has any experience with this.


Ratless. :(

Missing Erebus, Quiz, Bandit, Appa and Janus. Rest well, my loves. You were all magical and beautiful, and I'll miss you always.

Offline rodentsrevenge

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2011, 10:41:54 PM »
i've been wondering the same thing as well! i hope somebody can provide more info on it.

Offline loveforrats16

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2011, 11:44:55 PM »
I had a lab rat girl, but wasnt the one that got her from the lab. You can try calling colleges around you asking if they studsy on rat/if they do if its possible to adopt them when they're no longer needed.
Dont wait around for someone else to do something that needs to be done.
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Offline Aquiafin

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #3 on: April 08, 2011, 02:26:41 AM »
I'd like to know this too. I have a girlfriend who takes care of some of the rats/mice at Pfizer, and I know she's told me that the researchers put all of the animals that were used in the experiment to sleep after the study closes, because they can't use them in the next one. I always ask her to smuggle them out, but she could lose her job.

Offline Billie40

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #4 on: April 08, 2011, 09:31:12 AM »
My first rat was a lab rescue (r.i.p. Kakerat :heart:). My bio teacher in high school got him through his college and tried to make him a class pet. He was "vicious", so unsuitable for the classroom setting. I was lucky enough to get the whirling dirvish of teeth and claws  :P Had anyone thought about socializing or neutering the poor dear, he'd have been the ideal pet rat...lesson learned.
I'd contact local colleges (my boy was used in a psych program, I think most adoptable rats are used in that setting) and rescue groups. They would be likely to have the connections you're looking for. They're often not very well socialized, but if you're looking for a rescue you're probably prepared for "imperfections" :thumbsup2: Best of luck!

Offline trentsheba

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #5 on: April 08, 2011, 09:53:22 AM »

  If you check in the adoption section here around late spring, there's often posts regarding lab rats looking for home.  A lot of them are ones from colleges that the students are trying to find homes for before they're killed.  I got my Breanna that way.  She came from a med school. 

  She was never aggressive, but so scared.  She had a form of PTSD for a long time.  She suddenly didn't recognise anything in her surroundings and would be terrified.  If I tried to pick her up, she'd hurt herself trying to get away.  She didn't even recognise me.  She did this even after I'd had her over a year.  She'd be a sweet and affectionate thing most of the time, but every once in a while.  You could even see the sudden tear in her eyes.

   I still have her and she hasn't done this for several months now.  She's a wonderful and gentle girl.  You just have to be prepared for some psychological scarring when helping these poor babies. 

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Offline loveforrats16

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #6 on: April 08, 2011, 01:26:01 PM »
They're often not very well socialized, but if you're looking for a rescue you're probably prepared for "imperfections" :thumbsup2: Best of luck!

+1. My girl was very skittish and scared (can you blame her?) but never aggressive. She lived to be 3 years and 6 months, by far the oldest rat I've ever had. Most likely if you get a rat from a lab they'll be very skittish, but I think working with the scared ones and getting them to trust you is the most rewarding way to go :)
Dont wait around for someone else to do something that needs to be done.
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Offline theewanator

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2011, 08:01:45 PM »
Hi everyone,
I'm currently a student in the psychology/biology department at a university. I work with lab rats and fell in love with them, and then did a ton of research about their care / having them as pets.  Once I decided I definitely wanted two boy rats, I went and talked to a professor from the department... and boy did I get in TROUBLE.

It was a pretty ridiculous situation; but basically, when I asked her if I could potentially adopt two rats when they are going to be euthanized regardless, she snapped at me and said there's absolutely no way in hell I can do that because of regulations.  She then proceeded to contact my adviser and got my keycard access to the basement (where the rats are kept) cut off. She apparently thought I was gonna go all PETA on their ass and smuggle rats out.  It was a whole big ordeal; meetings, apology letters, other crap just to convince them that I really did just want rats as pets, so figured I could save ones that were going to be put down while I was at it.

So that was dissappointing and really frustrating (and I still think their policy is ridiculous); but I ended up going to the local pet-store and purchasing two baby boys, Sprague Dawley I believe (so they look like lab rats, same species).  I absolutely love them and have had them since Thanksgiving.  Their names are George & Ringo, after the two underrated Beatles ;)

Summary: Many universities now have wicked strict policies and do not allow anyone to adopt lab rats.  Apparently there have been problems with people saying they're "adopting" the rats but then they just let them out in the wild and they've popped up in kitchen facilities and such.

Offline dapples23

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2011, 09:42:04 PM »
but I ended up going to the local pet-store and purchasing two baby boys, Sprague Dawley I believe (so they look like lab rats, same species). 

Sprague-Dawley rats are bred with specific lineages to contain or not to contain certain genes to rule out inconsistencies in experiments, so if you got them from a pet store, they are most likely just regular old rats, not from a particular breeder who breeds for lab sciences. And I think that it's absolutely ridiculous how crazy the department head went over you asking.. That's so bizarre and rude!

And to the OP, another poster mentioned getting the rats through a psych program -- this is far more likely than getting them through the bio department. Usually in bio they have been injected with things and in most cases the animal is euthanized for "further studies" after the fact. I agree that you will have to call around to find a college or university that actually does adopt the animals out, but obviously some must!
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Offline TheBandit

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2011, 11:22:33 PM »
Hey, thanks for the response, everyone!

To those who mentioned their temperament and poor socialization: that makes tons of sense. The poor things must be pretty messed up. That's okay with me, though--I find the challenge of working with an animal and gaining its trust to be extremely rewarding. None of my rats have been terribly well-socialized, and of couse with any rescue situation, I'd be prepared for difficulties.

I may start with sending an email to the psych department of my college (which I recently graduated from, but I don't live toooo far away). Seems like messaging an institution that's familiar with me would be a little less awkward, although I don't have any personal connection with that particular department. Good call on going through psych departments as opposed to biology departments.

theewanator: That is totally scary and insane! I'm worried about getting that kind of reaction if I contact any universities... but it does seem like there are some out there who allow their lab rats to be adopted out. That's awful that they overreacted so badly over an innocent request.


Ratless. :(

Missing Erebus, Quiz, Bandit, Appa and Janus. Rest well, my loves. You were all magical and beautiful, and I'll miss you always.

Offline Bunnerrrs

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #10 on: April 09, 2011, 12:42:00 AM »
Their names are George & Ringo, after the two underrated Beatles ;)

And the thing is, they were probably the two better musicians. Harrison was a far better musician than Lennon.

I also want to adopt lab rats sometime... I think working with a zucker rat would be fun and interesting... but I know there's a lot of restrictions with them, especially with food. So I'm just going to have to wait until I become more experienced as a rat owner before I take on something like that.

I remember hearing stories from my drug psych professor about some of the tests they did on those poor rats. He really cared about animals, but it broke my heart to hear about some of those experiments like depression test and such.

Offline theewanator

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #11 on: April 09, 2011, 12:58:04 AM »
Dapples: Ohhh thank you so much for telling me about the species difference; I went nuts for a while trying to figure out what mine were (Sprague Dawley vs W___ something with a W haha) and couldn't figure it out... but they're most likely neither then :-P They were sold as feeders and look very similar to the Sprague Dawley rats I work with at school, but must be just 'regular white rats, or PEW (I learned about thsi term today haha) rats.'

Bandit: Yeah, it was pretty awful. Everything has been taken care of for this semester though and I do have access to the labs, but I do notice that they have me doing a lot more mundane data-entry type things rather than having me interact with the rats (I used to run them through a water maze and time them). They still must not trust me  >:( Apparently there are extremely strict rules for research universities testing animal subjects, and I've heard graduate students joke about how it's so much easier to run experiements on a human (because they think the IRB review board for humans is less overbearing & strict than the animal review board).  

I bet that if you contacted colleges that are not huge research-based schools like mine (I go to UConn), then you could have an easier time obtaining rats.  They will probably have more of a heart at these schools too, haha.  I feel like the research-institutions, since they get most of their money from grants and government funding and these boards and all this stuff, freak out more about policies.  Try the private schools rather than the public ones.  I'm not sure if I agree with the psych vs. bio distinction though to be honest; a lot of drug-related experiments are done in my labs (psychopharmacology)-- yesterday we induced parkinsonian tics in rats using an antipsychotic (the drugs wears off though fast). It really depends on the department you get the rat from.  It would be cool if you got a rat that had some miracle drug that prevented tumors or something haha and ended up with a wicked healthy rat- I could see that happening.  The lab rats I see are all very healthy, fed the same amount each day, weighed each day, held each day, etc.  The problems arise when other undergrads and idiots who are afraid of them pick them up, throw them in the maze, throw them back in the cage, etc. Aw. Poor babes.  Most of us all actually love rats though and treat them really nicely; I used to pet them a lot and try to make them feel comfortable.

Good luck!!!!

Offline theewanator

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #12 on: April 09, 2011, 01:06:20 AM »
 :BlueDumboSmile: haha they definitely were the two better musicians, just like rats are definitely the most underrated pets, in my opinion  :thumbsup2: :thumbsup2: :thumbsup2:

I love saying their names; Geoooorge and Ringooo  ;D. And in general how distinct of personalities and even physical features they have, though they're brothers. I can tell them apart in a heartbeat though they look the same to most (I guess it's like what happens with a parent having twins).  George is cuddly, laid-back, and all-around bigger; whereas Ringo is the little hyper, tiny one but is also a wimppppp. He likes to act brave but then runs away hahahaha.  He also tries to steal food from George constantly to put in his little stash.  He's such a hoarder.  I wonder if George steals the food from Ringo's collection when he's not looking, and that's why he's so big.

Offline vivianelizabeth

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #13 on: April 09, 2011, 10:08:51 AM »
I'd like to know this too. I have a girlfriend who takes care of some of the rats/mice at Pfizer, and I know she's told me that the researchers put all of the animals that were used in the experiment to sleep after the study closes, because they can't use them in the next one. I always ask her to smuggle them out, but she could lose her job.



 :BangHead:

More reasons I hate animal testing......AAGGGHGHHHHH
Is this not against cruelty laws in your country?!!??!?!?!?

Offline trentsheba

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2011, 10:19:09 AM »
Sadly, there are no real laws regarding rats and mice in labs.  They are actually excluded from the animal welfare act, which is the only federal law regarding animals in labs at all.

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Offline vivianelizabeth

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #15 on: April 09, 2011, 10:21:00 AM »
AAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHH


That makes me so upset!!

I guess it's another reason I'm proud to be Canadian.....

Offline mischiefmommy

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #16 on: April 09, 2011, 08:23:16 PM »
I got a post on a yahoo list about lab rats for adoption in Pennsylvania. I've emailed her to ask if I can repost the info.

Offline mischiefmommy

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #17 on: April 09, 2011, 10:08:56 PM »
Quote
Hello everyone!

A few years ago I joined this group when I was taking a Learning Psychology
class at my university where we trained rats. I loved it, and at the end of
the class I took four rats home with me. This course happens every semester,
and generally there are several students (like myself) who are willing to
take several rats. However, there are usually a couple of rats 'left over'
at the end that no one wants (I prevented that last time by taking four; I
took the ones (including the former biter) that no one else wanted.)

I'm looking for individuals (or rescues) who might be willing to take some
moderately socialized rats (they are male, I understand) that are
approximately 5-6 months old; they would be available sometime at the end of
April. If the rats are not adopted, I understand they are sent to
laboratories or pet shops. The amount of socialization that the rats receive
depends on the students they were working with; my rat when I took the class
was out for at least an hour a day, while other rats are only taken out for
training. Generally they don't bite, though there is the occasional scared
rat that lashes out a little bit.

I don't know for sure how many there will be, that depends on the kids in
the class right now. I would take some myself but I have to start my
clinicals in the fall and will not be home to care for them, now that my own
are already gone.

If anyone is interested or knows where I could find some rescues, and
references for my teacher (since I graduate this year and I know that they
will continue using rats for the next few years at least), that would be
great. We are in Cambria County in Pennsylvania, and you can email me off
list at elven.lady.1988 @gmail.com

Thanks so much!

Tatyanna

Offline Rattology

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #18 on: April 09, 2011, 11:09:38 PM »
it IS illegal. my father is a vet and he worked in the labs at ISU and tufts university with rats. you might think peta is right about never being hadled and kept in nasty littl tanks, but no. for the experiment to work, all rats have to be kept in comepletely sterile conditions, and very often the tanks the live in are put through this huge sterilizer that cleans them. in the cages they have good food, water, and toys (not tons of hammocks, bu mabye a toilet paper roll and a nest box) since the rats are kept in such sterile conditions all their lives, their amune systems are very weak, and just a few minutes outside th lab and they could die. no vet or scienist would blatently neglect a test animal. maybe a smallerexperiment from a highschool wouldnt keep the subjects in suchsterile conditions, and could be adopted out, but i have been in the vet school and they keep the rats behind huge locked doors. its all for the greater good, though. those rats are used to helpfind cures for animals and save millions

Offline TheBandit

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #19 on: April 09, 2011, 11:55:30 PM »
Rattology: Just for the record, I'm not decrying animal research here. I am willing to believe that many lab rats are treated quite well. And I have encountered great respect for these creatures at the institutions that use them--my college had all students doing any kind of work involving live animals sign a waiver that basically asked the students to respect the fact that the animals were giving their lives, and to learn as much as possible to make those animals' deaths worthwhile. It was quite beautiful, actually.

I am not looking to save a rat FROM being studied. What I had heard about (and was looking to know more about) was animals being adopted out that were no longer being used for research or perhaps had not been studied at all--animals that were no longer useful to the institution that were going to be euthanized. Do you know if it is always illegal to do this? Because it seems that several people have rats that came from such situations. I'm guessing maybe it's different with private institutions?

That's also a really good point, about the sterile conditions they're kept in making it difficult for them to live outside of those conditions.


Ratless. :(

Missing Erebus, Quiz, Bandit, Appa and Janus. Rest well, my loves. You were all magical and beautiful, and I'll miss you always.

Offline Blackthorn

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #20 on: April 10, 2011, 12:35:04 PM »
It widely depends on the lab and the type of research, as well as those folk in charge of it.  Most labs will not or can not legally adopt out animals that have had invasive experiments done on them, and of course, not ones where they need to necropsy the animals.  However, a lot of psych labs and many college or high school level labs will adopt out rats used in behavioral research and less invasive medical procedures.  My first rat was from my college's psych lab, used in taste aversion research.  Every year I get at least a few rats through the rescue that were used in classroom lab research.  As a bit of an aside, that's kind of annoying - I'm quite sure there's a better way for high school kids to learn about B.F. Skinner than to have students train rats to press levers or run a maze, then pressure them to take "their" rat home or it'll be destroyed.   :P  I think rather a lot of them take their rats home and just dump them outside to "save" them.  :-\

Whether the rats do well as pets is going to vary widely on the strain of rat, the experiments performed, and the controls in place to run them.  Pathogen-free or other costly/particularly difficult to breed strain of rats used for strict medical research by pharmaceutical companies or cancer researchers or such are going to be harder to obtain and be more different from your average pet rat than a basic Sprague Dawley used to run a maze or press a lever by college kids.  Most of the latter will not be all that much different from your basic pet rat (behaviorally or in terms of health), but the former will.
« Last Edit: April 10, 2011, 12:38:23 PM by Blackthorn »

Offline eyohkay

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #21 on: April 10, 2011, 01:59:45 PM »
As a bit of an aside, that's kind of annoying - I'm quite sure there's a better way for high school kids to learn about B.F. Skinner than to have students train rats to press levers or run a maze, then pressure them to take "their" rat home or it'll be destroyed.   :P  I think rather a lot of them take their rats home and just dump them outside to "save" them.  :-\

Sniffy, The Virtual Rat

Offline Cinn

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #22 on: April 10, 2011, 02:07:33 PM »
AAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHH


That makes me so upset!!

I guess it's another reason I'm proud to be Canadian.....

I'm not sure if things are much better in Canada. The psych department at my university uses rats in experiments, and then euthanizes them at the end of the semester too.

Offline Rattology

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #23 on: April 10, 2011, 02:46:00 PM »
Rattology: Just for the record, I'm not decrying animal research here. I am willing to believe that many lab rats are treated quite well. And I have encountered great respect for these creatures at the institutions that use them--my college had all students doing any kind of work involving live animals sign a waiver that basically asked the students to respect the fact that the animals were giving their lives, and to learn as much as possible to make those animals' deaths worthwhile. It was quite beautiful, actually.

I am not looking to save a rat FROM being studied. What I had heard about (and was looking to know more about) was animals being adopted out that were no longer being used for research or perhaps had not been studied at all--animals that were no longer useful to the institution that were going to be euthanized. Do you know if it is always illegal to do this? Because it seems that several people have rats that came from such situations. I'm guessing maybe it's different with private institutions?

That's also a really good point, about the sterile conditions they're kept in making it difficult for them to live outside of those conditions.
ya sorry its just that many people think (like PETA) that lab animals are abused. my father also did research on labratory dogs. they are fed and always have water and most have toys. all of them get walks, too. a girl who goes to isu saved 72 lab rats after an experiment. it was small-scale, though. most lab animals are kept under super high security, and people cant even go into the rooms where the rats are kept unless they have those white sterile suits. as i said, they have these huge doors that are very thick and have huge number locks on them. i have been down where that labs are, and its a long hallway lined with the doors. i have never been inthere, though. i bet you would have better luck with a highschool experiment. lab rats would be nice pets, because they have absolutely no genetic illnesses

Offline vivianelizabeth

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Re: Just curious: adopting lab rats?
« Reply #24 on: April 10, 2011, 04:35:54 PM »
AAAAAGGGGGGGHHHHHH


That makes me so upset!!

I guess it's another reason I'm proud to be Canadian.....

I'm not sure if things are much better in Canada. The psych department at my university uses rats in experiments, and then euthanizes them at the end of the semester too.

dunno which uni you're at, but in BC that's pretty darn illegal.