Fancy rat: rodents compete in Scots pageant


RAT lovers are holding a rodent version of Crufts this weekend at which the widely feared and detested creatures will compete for prizes.

Organised by the Scottish Rat Club, the event some people would consider skin-crawling will feature categories such as best in breed, agility and the “most curious”.

The unlikely pets taking part in the event in Bathgate, West Lothian will have to meet the high standards set by the National Fancy Rat Society.


Each rodent will then be judged on their type, colour, markings and coat type.
Each rodent will then be judged on their type, colour, markings and coat type.


Rats that are entered in the pet classes will be judged on qualities such as friendliness, condition and health.

The most curious rat competition which will see the rodents investigate several items which are laid out including, flowers, toys and matchboxes.

The winner of this competition is the rat who investigates the item in the shortest time.

Each rodent will then be judged on their type, colour, markings and coat type.

Scottish Rat Club chairman Nick Mays said: “More and more people are keeping rats as pets.

“It’s not a new thing, people first began keeping them in Victorian times.

“They are low maintenance, reasonably inexpensive, and don’t need walking. They also have bags of personality to boot.”

Owners are apparently attracted to the animals “cuddleability” and “cuteness”.

One eager member of the club is mum-of-two Shelley Bruce, from Murrayfield, Edinburgh, who is the proud owner of four rats.

The community nurse travels all over the country showing her four prized pets – hooded dumbo Katie, British blue Skye and Berkshires Moses and Soloman.

She said: “They’re actually very affectionate and love kisses and cuddles. People would be so surprised by them. Rats are very intelligent and are actually quite shy, I’ve never had a bite from any of my rats.”

Shelley began keeping rats after her daughter, Jess, 19, persuaded her to buy one, seven years ago.

Shelley said: “At first I was not keen on bringing rats into the house but eventually the novelty wore off for Jess and so I began taking care of them, that’s when I fell in love with them.

“They’re very clever. I’ve taught them to respond to their names and come for kisses.”

On average rats can produce litters of up to eight “pups”, seven times a year, and prospective pet owners are advertised to purchase either same-sex pairings or keep them apart.

Shelley keeps her four pets apart with a twin chamber Royal Rat cage which she received as a valentines present from husband Stephen, 42.

She said: “Katie and Skye stay in the top chamber and the two boys on the bottom, if I didn’t keep them apart I could end up with quite a lot more rats.”

*The next show is on Saturday 27th April at St. Mary’s Church Hall, Bathgate – doors open at 11am.

Previous articleChurch of Scotland employ ‘anti-bullying team’
Next articleMSP slams “disastrous” hospital maintenance contract and calls for debate on PFI


  1. “skin crawling event” yeah thanks a lot, thats really going to help with peoples ignorant attitude towards rats.

  2. “Skin-crawling”, “feared and detested”??? I have rarely seen a more ridiculous article featuring rats. Yes, I am the Shelley here and may be biased with regards to rats but these descriptions are at best ignorant and at worst extremely insulting.

  3. Duuuhhhh! Haven’t you journo pillocks worked out that these are DOMESTICATED rats, not wild ones? The clue is in the name “Fancy” Rats. After all, if you say you keep rabbits, no-one thinks you go out and catch wild ones, do they?

  4. When I was much younger my mum taught us that “If you can’t say anything nice then don’t say it at all” I think in this case, the misinformed journalist should have stuck to this ethos. Honestly, “feared and detested”? “skin crawling event”? I’ll bet the person who wrote this has never met a pet rat. I also wager that if they did they would drastically alter their opinion of the amazing, lovely, intelligent and affectionate creatures. A lot of people may not be sure about rats as pets but anyone who has then met them up close and personal soon change their minds.

  5. The description ‘skin crawling event’ is as unfair as it is untrue. To any pet owners having their animals called names is shocking in its ignorance. I have met and held the rats who are named in this article and each of them are as different in personality as the other. They are clean and friendly and curious about their surroundings and people. I am proud and happy to have been fortunate enough to meet and enjoy seeing the pleasure these rats give to their owners and, might i add, the fun i have had watching their antics and the loving way they interact with the humans in their lives.

  6. The “journo pillocks” at Deadline News thank you for your, ahem, robust comments 🙂 Here’s my reply to Shelley Bruce:

    “Apologies to you and your friends for any offence caused by this article. It certainly wasn’t our intention to upset anyone.

    What we were trying to get across in the first paragraph of the story is that, generally speaking, rats are “feared” and “detested” by the majority of the population. Whether or not you think it’s fair, I genuinely don’t think anyone could contradict that statement.

    The fact that you and your friends are able to hold this public event and get lots of people to come along is evidence in itself that not everyone shares that point of view.

    The use of the phrase “skin crawling” was, again, meant to be a reference to the way most people would view rats. We should have written something along the lines of “an event that many people would view as skin crawling” and I’ll change the website article accordingly.

    I’ve re-read the article and, apart from the first couple of paragraphs, there is nothing that could be construed as being against rats or people who keep them as pets. I think it’s all very positive and the general effect would be to make someone who was fearful of rats think again.”

    Peter Laing
    Managing Editor
    Deadline News

    • Many thanks for your swift reply and for the amendment. You are very welcome to pop along on Saturday for some rat hugs 😉

    • Peter Laing,

      If you did your homework you would be aware that very few people “fear” and “detest” rats. Many are “not keen” but I’ve only ever known one person who was afraid of them. Perhaps you are projecting your own fear onto this piece?

  7. I was always taught not to even try and talk about a subject if I knew little or nothing about it. The writer of this piece ought to have done the same. These animals are neither “feared and detested” or “skin crawling”. Rats, by their very nature, are sociable, curious and friendly – and they adore humans. My father has been keeping rats for the past 12 years because he fell in love with a rescue that I gave him – and my very first rat charmed everybody with his desire for human affection, and the affection that he gave in return. His name was Greebo; if you Google “Greebo rat” he turns up on a website and you can read all about how wonderful he was. His story would soon put an end to this writer’s misguided ignorance.

  8. Hello Mr Laing,

    I suggest to compensate for having upset so many people who love rats (the domesticated ones) you should come to the show on Saturday and then write a more enlightened piece for your site and have it published on Monday. What say you? You would be very welcome and would enjoy it. Mel makes a great bacon sandwich and cup of tea and there are always home made cakes to enjoy and of course the main attraction, adorable, cute, playful and very much loved ratties.

    Looking forward to meeting you


  9. Thank you for the reply and the re-jig. I’m happy to withdraw my “pillock” comments. You are very nice journos indeed! Just as Fancy rats are unlike their wild cousins, then you are obviously unlike your feral Fleet Street cousins. 🙂

  10. Just to clarify rats should always be kept in at least pairs or small groups – same sex obviously or it will soon be a much bigger group than you wanted!
    Rats are sociable animals both with people and their own kind and it is never a good idea to keep them alone.
    Anyone wanting to find out more about rats as pets and how to care for them should get along to the show on Saturday or contact the Scottish Rat Club who will be happy to help 🙂

  11. Dear Mr Laing

    Thank you for restoring my faith in journalists. However please still consider your invitation to the show as being extended, we would love to see you. I think you could really enjoy and the rats would certainly like to meet you,


Comments are closed.