Rat-Pageants and the Fugly awards.
As I am sure you are well aware, there are people who hate rats, and those who like them. Of those that like them, there are some that consider them as pets, equivalent in power, love, and warmth to a dog or cat, and there are some who are very much so attached to and focused on perfect coloration, perfect fur, perfect eyes, etc and the ability, through breeding, to duplicate those traits. I'm sure there is also a combination of the above but for now, we are going to look at those who breed perfection while giving you a glimpse into the world of rat pageantry.
Every rat's coat color has a name (blue, mink, black, chocolate, cinnamon, agouti, fawn, and beige, to name a few). It can be good coloration, or a poorly bred speckled in white coat. It can have a little red in it which is also bad. Every rat's fur has a type. They can be rex (krinkly fur), or hairless (bald), or standard (a thick, smooth, glossy coat of fur).
They can be defined as "hooded" (capped) or "self" (even coat of the same color of fur covering the whole body). If they have cute little white feet, or a cute little white belly (assuming they're not albino) this is a flaw. If their fur is not krinkly enough or not straight enough, this is also a flaw. If a Siamese rat (beige rat with brown nose, brown feet, and brown butt) has white feet, that is a flaw.
If your rat has experienced any personal injury and his or her ear his been nipped, or has gotten his or her toe stuck in something, they are immediately disqualified.
We didn't have any rats close to that perfect, but for the experience we went anyway. You can bring your rats in anything you want but you must have toter cages to put the rats in when you place them on the judge's table. Admission was something like $5 and it was $0.50 per rat entered in a particular contest. People from all around bring their rats, some to sell, some to show, some to trade. Sometimes the most respected rat judge of all is shipped in from California.
It's a fun experience. You see colors and combinations you never knew existed. You also get to find out really quickly how friendly your rats are and sometimes get to learn new tricks. We would have never, for example, ever thought of a rat-on-a-leash if it weren't for one of these shows. You also get to see rats being sold for over $20. Of course we bought some (the second time around). If it weren't for the rat pageant, we'd have never seen Dumbo rats with their big goofy ears either. Those guys are funny. You get to see a lot of people showing off and hyperventilating over potential bugs. As always, I digress.
Once the show starts, they call a particular group, for example, "Self," "Marked," "Standard," "Rex," and "Hairless." They also do fun categories like "Best Personality," "Lickiest," and "Best Costume." I'm sure in Orange County it's different, but I'd imagine anyone would have a fair shot at most other rat shows simply because of the lack of competition. Slinky, who prior to the show was called a "Bad Rex" for example won the "Rex" contest and Grandpa who, prior to the show was described as "patchy," "ugly" and a "poor attempt at hairless" won second runner up. I also got a cute LJB rat stocking for my Dad (LJB original) for Christmas. I just knew he'd love it :O)
As for me, I was happy knowing my rats were ugly. Ironically we had one rat who was show quality (we didn't know this at the time). His name is Wolfman. He is a Black Rex Self. We always thought he was the ugliest thing because he didn't have those cute little white paws. Besides, he was a nasty one! Of course I don't think we could have entered him anyway because we had him snipped (see "Neutering your male rats is costly and ineffective.") which I'm guessing is a good reason for immediate disqualification.
At any rate, if you ever get the chance, go to a rat pageant. I wouldn't recommend entering your favorite rats though, just in case.
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Disclaimer: There are many non-sarcastic accounts and tips on the web regarding rat care. This is not
one of them. These are merely accounts of our experiences with rats, our perceptions of these experiences, where we've failed
and where we've succeeded. These accounts are here for two purposes: