Rattie Ratz: The Student Becomes the (Rat) Teacher

by Stephanie D’Agostino

Steph D’Agostino is a Rattie Ratz Rescue social media volunteer who loves hosting live educational events for the rescue and sharing cute pics of the rescue rats.

Kyler is a speech and language pathology graduate student who started volunteering with Rattie Ratz Rescue right in the middle of the pandemic, in June 2021. Kyler had always wanted pet rats since she was a young child. She explains that "As a student, I wasn't ready to commit to rats for their lifetime, since I didn't know where I'd be in a year."

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Kyler did some research and found Rattie Ratz Rescue. "I read about happy adopters and other foster volunteers talking about their experiences and decided Rattie Ratz would be a good fit for me."

Kyler filled out the volunteer application on their website, completed the training session (led by experienced volunteers), and picked up her supplies, all provided by the rescue. She began her fostering journey with little to no experience with domestic pet rats, but she had an open mind and a loving heart. 

"I soon got my first pair of ratties, a calm sister duo. They were perfect for a first timer like me. I felt eased into the experience and also supported by all the amazing people with the rescue. I was always able to text to ask any questions or get advice."

Kyler got her next set, two squishy, calm boy rats named Motley and Crue. She was able to let them free roam without a pen and they would go in and out of their cage as they liked, napping in her bags. The boys were quite the hit at one of Rattie Ratz' twice-monthly adoption events. "They were super mellow, and Motley spent that whole event being passed around, sleeping in everyone's arms." What a great ambassador rat!

Kyler with foster rat Motley

As time went on, Kyler progressed in her skills and felt comfortable taking on rats that were far more shy. The student was becoming the teacher!

Rattie Ratz is lucky to have Kyler on the team! One of the most helpful things a foster volunteer can do is socialize shy rats to get them used to being handled by humans. Domestic pet rats love treats and food in general, so that's one of the best ways to make friends with them. Kyler also helps them gain confidence by feeding treats, taking them out to play, and practicing picking them up and setting them down. Not surprisingly, shy rats have a much harder time finding adoptive homes compared to ones that feel comfortable around people. 

 Kyler uses a “snuggle scarf" & cheerios to win over shy foster rat Little Stripe
Kyler shares that consistency, and routine helps a lot. "Even if your socialization schedule isn't perfect," she says, "pick it back up. They just need to keep collecting positive experiences." 

Kyler shares, "I've fostered kittens for 10 years, and it's a common issue in adoptions with kitties too. Many adopters don't understand how a kitty could be terrified for a few days and slowly begin to warm up. A lot of times these critters just need one person who is going to consistently be there for them, and they become a different animal." 

Kyler looks back on her experience as a foster volunteer for Rattie Ratz as very rewarding. "I spent my first semester of online graduate school with ratties riding in my hoodie, running across my desk, or bouncing around on my bed. My care has improved, my confidence in handling has improved, and I know that someday I can take on my own ratties."

Foster rat Big Stripe enjoying a seaweed treat
Someday Kyler will provide a wonderful home for her own pet rats, but for now, she's a valued member of the Rattie Ratz Rescue team.

"Fostering is the best," says Kyler, "getting to love so many different critters, and then watching them go to awesome homes. Getting to help in such an enjoyable way is addicting. I recommend it to anyone who's ever been interested in rats!"

If you would like to know more about Rattie Ratz Rescue or find out about upcoming information/adoption events, please visit our Facebook or Instagram. If you are interested in adoptable rats or volunteering for Rattie Ratz Rescue, visit their website at www.rattieratz.com

Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section on Kings River Life, and the Pets section here on KRL News & Reviews. Check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from Feral Paws. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue. We also have a special Facebook Group for our pet articles--join and never miss a pet article.




  1. Good fostering is so important, and it looks like Kyler is doing a great job.


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