My name is Mary and I love animals! I have worked and volunteered in the veterinary/rescue world since I was 16 years old. I grew up with all kinds of animals, but my mom hated rat tails so they were the one pet I was never allowed to have. Of course, as soon as I got my own apartment in 2011, I acquired a pair of boys and fell in love.
Throughout the years I had many, many rats. They unfortunately do not live very long, so after I lost all my rats but one, I decided I needed a break. It truly is heartbreaking when you lose them. I noticed that the only places that took in rats also euthanized for space and I was not about to risk that. I got on Craigslist and Facebook and realized there were many others in my same situation. I decided to start the DFW Rat Rescue in 2018 with the goal of helping people find a safe and loving home for their pets.
As of January 2023, I've been able to help find homes for over 2,500 rats. I've also become the last home for many ratties who were too ill or too feral to adopt out. My fiancé, Ford, helps me with the day-to-day rescue work and fully supports the countless hours and dollars that I've put into it over the years. I've also had several amazing fosters take on some tough cases and help the neediest rats! Even my dad has donated time and skills to helping me achieve this goal.
When I'm not cleaning cages, meeting with surrenders, adopters, and fosters, and answering rescue emails and social media messages, I'm still pretty busy! Ford and I run Wesner Family Farm (check us out on Instagram!) with chickens, turkeys, quail, pigs, donkeys, rabbits, and of course our cats and dogs. We also have an aquatic turtle and several tarantulas. I am also an avid gardener! I love my succulent collection as well as my vegetable gardens. My third full time job (after spending 8 years as an elementary school teacher) is the health, safety, and environment coordinator for an aerospace chemical plant.
How do you care for the rats?
We feed our rats Mazuri rat food along with a homemade mix, fresh fruits and vegetables, mealworms, and (of course) lots of treats. Rats are given natural, organic baby food when needed - usually with medication or when they are severely underweight.
Depending on how many rats we have in our care, they may have more or less space. I always aim to give them as much room as I can, but a large surrender might result in smaller cages temporarily. A rat may be confined to a smaller space after surgery or in other emergency cases. Each cage has a soft place to lay (hammock, bed), a place to hide (igloo, space pod), and plenty of enrichment (toys, chews).
We do our very best to make sure all rats have a companion unless they are in quarantine, aggressive, or for medical reasons. *Once we introduce a rat to another rat or group, they MUST be adopted together. It's too stressful to keep moving them around and introducing them to other rats. For this reason, we hold off on introductions if we end up with an odd number of single rats. Rats who are surrendered together will always be kept together.
Cages are cleaned when they get dirty and spot cleaned daily. A thorough cleaning is done once a week. This includes washing food dishes, water bottles, cage pans, and hammocks. Bedding is changed and the cage is given a full scrub-down. Cages are completely disinfected between tenants.
We have a well-stocked pharmacy and rats are taken to one of our vet clinics if a problem should arise that we are not equipped to handle on our own.
Where do your rats come from?
Our rats come from a variety of places. They are brought to us by people who believe the best thing for the animal is to find it a new home. This can mean that they are originally from pet stores, breeders, feeder bins, accidental litters, or given to them by someone else. We have also assisted with several hoarding/animal cruelty cases. We are also proud rescue partners with several city shelters and humane societies in the area and sometimes pull from them. We try not to focus on the origins of the rat, but rather where they are going next.
Where does your funding come from and where does it go?
Rescue funding comes solely from donations (adoption fees, supplies, fundraising). Although we are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, we are not a shelter. We receive no money from the government or other entities. Donations are used for various operational costs, such as food, enrichment, treats, bedding, housing, cleaning supplies, transportation costs, and (most importantly) medical expenses. We also must think about electricity, paying for our website, any repair or replacement costs, and other administrative expenses. The rescue is 100% volunteer-based, including our wonderful fosters!
Are you anti-breeder?
Definitely not. Unlike dog and cat breeding, rat breeding would be exclusively for snake food if it weren't for active pet breeders and "fanciers." By breeding out poor genetics, disease, and undesirable temperament, breeders can have a very positive influence on the evolution of the species. I would rather see someone buy a rat from a responsible, reputable breeder than a chain pet store.
Rat breeding can be expensive, time-consuming, heartbreaking, and requires tons of medical and genetic knowledge. If you are thinking about breeding rats, please contact a local breeder and ask as many questions as you can. Also consider fostering a pregnant or nursing doe!
*Please do research on a breeder you buy from! I get aggressive, sick, deformed rats from breeders all the time. Just because they breed rats doesn't mean they are taken care of, friendly, or healthy. Most of the time they won't take them back and the rats end up here with me.