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Rats And Mice Take The Spotlight At AFRMA Show

The American Fancy Rat And Mouse Association holds rat and mouse shows throughout the year and had some big standardization news at its spring show this year.

By Marylou Zarbock
Posted: July 26, 2012, 7:45 p.m. EDT

mouse in show box
© Marylou Zarbock
Show judges calmly "invited" the mice to come out of their show box for judging.


Friendly competition was at its finest during the spring 2012 American Fancy Rat And Mouse Association Rat And Mouse Show. With more than a hundred rats and mice in the room waiting to compete, it was fun to walk around and meet them. Some were pets, but many were owned by rat and mouse breeders. Everyone there seemed eager to show off their rats and mice, and the breeders debated the pets’ merits, traded breeding stories and more.

The rat and mouse show officially began at 11 a.m., but judging was low-key. A pair of judges began with the pet mice, which were lined up on the table in their show boxes. The judges took care to make the mice feel as comfortable as possible. Meanwhile, the rat judging was done at a separate table by a different judge. The classes judged included Pets, Unstandardized, Unstandardized Breeder, Brood Doe, Stud Buck, Standard and more.

Onlookers milled about freely, visiting with other people or oohing and aahing over the many rats and mice.

rat held in hand
© Marylou Zarbock
The rats appeared calm during judging, and none tried to scurry away.
scene of the rat and mouse show
© Marylou Zarbock
The Woodcrest Community Center in Riverside, California, most often hosts the AFRMA rat and mouse show.

During an AFRMA show, three things basically happen. Rats and mice are judged in pet classes, regular classes and evaluations. Karen Robbins, president of the AFRMA and an AFRMA judge, said that pet classes are for fun. “It doesn't matter if the rat/mouse has a torn ear, half of a tail, unrecognized marking, etc., these are just judged on the personality, health and temperaments.”

Regular classes are those where the rat or mouse is competing for a ribbon. “All animals must be show quality in color/markings/type and must have good health and temperaments as well,” Robbins said.

Evaluations are information-based. It’s a chance for breeders to get a detailed critique on a rat or mouse they want to possibly breed even if it isn’t show quality. “I ask questions on the animals to help the owner on how to breed that animal if it is breeding quality,” Robbins said. “These are also required for those with a registered rattery/mousery to have all their animals evaluated and pass with breeding status and to not breed ‘pet quality’ animals.”

The large turnout for this show and the fact that only one judge was there to judge the Standard class for both rats and mice extended the length of the show, which was originally scheduled to end around 3 p.m. It was going strong at 6 p.m. though, finalizing the mouse judging.

rat with winner's ribbon
© Marylou Zarbock
This lucky rat took home a ribbon as Best Unstandardized.

Aside from determining the rat winners and mouse winners, which can be seen at the AFRMA website with some photos on Facebook, exciting standardization news occurred at this show. The Russian Blue Agouti Burmese rat had its final presentation, which allowed it to be considered for standardization by the AFRMA board. Similarly, for the mice the Blue Agouti color had its final showing and could be considered for standardization. Both were recognized by AFRMA in early July 2012. Finally, the Silver Agouti mouse had its first presentation, which starts it on the road to further presentations, with the goal to be considered for standardization.

Also of note for this show is that a Powder Blue rat competed. That is a rare color that isn’t yet standardized.

During judging, remarks made by the judge can be surprising to those new to the fancy. Here are a few to ponder: “He’s too feminine.” “The tail is too square.” “The butt is too square.” “He needs more muzzle.” “He’s narrow in the shoulders.” “He’s flabby; there’s no muscle tone.” “He needs darker points.”

The AFRMA holds shows quarterly with additional display dates throughout the year. The show and display schedule is on its website.

Like this article? Then check out the calendar of events for small animal shows, click here>>

See all news, click here>>

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