Here in Cambs our local rat stud is the redoubtable Zephyr Rats, producer of some of the friendliest and most outgoing rats I’ve met in my short career. Mary of Zephyr was the first person I contacted hoping to get rats, but like many successful breeders she has a busy waiting list and I eventually took in Salt and Pepper as rescues so that I had some company and some fuzzies to care for to ease the wait. From the forums I find I’m not by any means alone – the Zephyr stalkers club is a grand tradition, apparently, as hopeful future Zephyr owners obsessively follow Mary’s mums-to-be and get absurdly excited over photos of babies that resemble nothing more than the mutant offspring of a raw cocktail sausage and a hippo. I am embarrassed to admit that I have now become one of them – I remind myself of the endless stream of new parents on my thirty-something Facebook news feed who flock to photographs of yet another small, red, squashed Winston Churchill clone and extol the aesthetic perfection of its tiny form. They’re not sausages, they’re beautiful. Mmkay?
And Camp Stalker is out in force at the moment, too. Mary’s been trying for some winter/spring litters, in theory three although she thinks one of them may not have taken at all. She informs me that to make all of her current list of hopeful owners happy she’ll need her three mums to produce ten boys. The first litter (pictured) turned out to only be five strong, and of those five only one is a boy! So if Mum no. 2 does indeed prove not to be pregnant, poor old Mum no. 3 would have to produce a whopping litter containing nine boys to satisfy us all. I have a terrible feeling I’m going to be waiting again!