Showing Frequently Asked Questions

What is a rat show?

In brief, rat owners bring their rats to be seen by the public. Rats are shown in suitable tanks. During the day, the judges choose the best rats and award prizes.

Rat shows are also social occasions where friendly rat owners share their common interest. Many shows will have a variety of other activities taking place – these are usually listed on the show calendar.

Where are they? Where is my nearest rat show?

There are rat shows up and down the country all year round, the venue details are listed on the show calendar.

Why is there not a rat show closer to me?

It would be nice to have a rat show on everyone’s doorstep. However, rat shows need to pay for themselves and need the support of volunteers to run them. The best way to get more local shows is to get involved at your closest shows! To offer your help, e-mail the General Show Secretary.

How much does it cost to look round? How much does it cost to enter?

The NFRS does not charge visitors to its shows. Where the show is part of a larger event, such as a country fair, you may be charged admission. Details of these kinds of charges are shown on the show calendar.

If you wish to enter rats in the show, there is an entry fee of £1.50 per rat entered (pay the Show Secretary on the day).

When does the show start? When does the show finish?

If you are entering a rat, you need to turn up early enough to get your rat ready for the start of judging. Judging typically starts between 10:30 and midday, see the show calendar for details of individual shows. Please note that rats must be benched fifteen minutes before the listed start time. If you are a visitor, turning up after the start of judging will mean you miss the rush.

Shows usually end between 4:30pm and 6:00pm with the presentation of awards. Be aware that all rats are needed until the end of judging. Show personnel will let you know when the rats may be removed from the bench.

Do I need to be a NFRS member to enter my rat?

You don't have to be a member to show, although you will be missing out on what the club has to offer. You can ask about joining at the show if you like what we have to offer. To join or find out more, click here.

What do I need to show my rat?

  • A healthy, friendly rat
  • A NFRS show tank; this is a particular kind of plastic tank (see this page.
  • Pale brownish-white 'natural' substrate.
  • A single piece per rat of cucumber, carrot or apple for moisture.

What substrate can I use?

The substrate in show tank must be of a pale brownish-white colour. Currently the approved substrates are
  • Wood shavings
  • Woodchip
  • Auboise
  • Megazorb
  • Bedmax
You may not use Biocatolet or Carefresh.

What if I don't have a NFRS show tank?

There are a limited number of hire tanks available. Hire tanks must be booked in advance and cost £3 each. Only two tanks are available per exhibitor.

If you wish to purchase show tanks you can either contact NFRS promotions or the show secretary for the next show you are going to. Show tanks are 11 each (inc. lid and base). If you want to source your own tank or re-use a tank you already own Ferplast Nettuno XL or Geo XL are the base tanks which our lids fit. A lid may be purchased on its own and costs 3.50.

If you are wanting hire tanks or to purchase tanks at a show please contact the show secretary as early as possible as they may have to arrange for the tanks to be transported across the country. There are only a limited number available and these will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

What happens if I have more than one rat?

Use one tank for each adult rat. You are permitted to show two same sex kittens in the same tank providing the appearances of the two rats are clearly different.

What if it's exceedingly hot or cold?

In extreme heat, as many of our tented summer shows can be, exhibitors can place water bottles on top of the show tanks for their rats. Mark the water bottles with the animal's corresponding pen number to avoid them becoming muddled and placed on the wrong tank by busy stewards. Please note that according to the NFRS rules, all rats at tented/warmer shows must have water bottles for each individual tank. In colder weather it is permissible to use white shredded bedding in addition to the substrate.

How do I enter my rat?

You will need to give the Show Secretary some details about you:
  • Your Name. If you have an NFRS stud name, you may enter under your stud name or your name. Those of you who have registered as an NFRS Rattery must be the most vigilant in how you enter. You will show under your name and NOT your Rattery name.
  • Your contact details (ideally a mobile number that is contactable on the day as well)
  • If you are a junior exhibitor (under 16)
  • If you are an NFRS member (only NFRS members may take cups home, you can join on the day).
For each rat, you will need to tell Show Secretary:
  • If the rat is male (buck) or female (doe)
  • If the rat is an adult (14 weeks or over) or a kitten (8 to 14 weeks)
  • The class you would like to enter. If you don't know, enter in pet class or see the varieties pages.
  • If you are a Novice breeder and the rat is bred by you and therefore eligible for the Novice Award.
You will also need to let the Show Secretary know if:
  • You would like to hire a tank (max. 2 per exhibitor at 3 each) - you will need to bring your own substrate and moisture source.
  • You would like buy a show tank (at 11 each).
  • You would like to advertise kittens at the show (You will need to bring a poster detailing your kittens which can be put on a board, you cannot sell rats at an NFRS show.)
  • You would like to transfer/deliver pre-arranged rats to other person(s) at the show. (Only NFRS members are permitted to deliver rats via NFRS shows)
For example:
ABC Rattery, Joe Bloggs
2 Black Adult does (Novice)
1 Choc Adult buck (Novice)
2 Agouti Adult does
1 Cinnamon Kitten buck

Usually you can enter your rats by telephoning the number in Pro-Rat-A. Some Show Secretaries take entries by e-mail or post. See the show calendar for further details.

What if entries are by phone only; how do I get the phone number to enter?

If entries are phone only and you are not an NFRS member and need contact details, please contact the General Show Secretary well in advance of the closing date. For NFRS members, the phone number should be included on the show advert in Pro-rat-a. Please remember that all show secretaries are unpaid volunteers and only contact them by phone during reasonable hours of the day, unless the advert states otherwise, it is best to call between 7-9pm in the evening.

What if I don't know what class my rat should be in?

If you have a healthy, friendly rat then you can always enter him or her in the pet class and then ask at the show for next time if you should consider entering the rat in varieties and if so which class.

If you are unsure on variety class but want to enter varieties, then discuss with the Show Secretary when you enter your rats and ask them to confirm before the show that you have entered the correct class.

It is the responsibility of the exhbitior to ensure that the rat is entered in the correct class. Once judging commences no class changes shall be permitted.

When should I enter my rats?

Most people enter their rats within a week of the closing date. The deadline for show entries can be found on the show calendar. Email entries must be received and confirmed at least 24 hours before the closing date to be accepted for the show. We have had problems with bouncing emails and it is always best to make sure that your entry has been confirmed. Late entries will only be accepted by the Show Secretary at their discretion.

Does the NFRS have kitten sales at the show?

The NFRS does not have kitten sales at shows. A notice area will be provided at NFRS shows where the availability of rat kittens may be advertised by their owners at the show. The advertisement must include the rats' date of birth, colour and sex and the seller's, name, address and contact details. The advert must be displayed in the area provided or deemed appropriate by the officiating Show Secretary or Show Manager on the day. Show Secretaries and Show Managers may use their discretion to remove any advertisements deemed inappropriate. Their decision is final.

What if I want to bring rats to the show for exchange?

Only NFRS members are permitted to exchange/deliver rats for collection by others at any NFRS show. Any exchanges should fit into the 14 day quarantine guidelines: for safety, each rat should not have shown any signs of illness within the last 14 days or having been exposed to any rats of unknown background during this period. . Please ensure that you advise the show secretary in advance of the show if you have any rats to exchange/deliver at a show.

Any kittens pre-booked for exchange must be between 6-14 weeks of age. The seller must supply the buyer with documentation for each animal sold indicating the breeder's name and address, and the kitten's date of birth.

NO kittens under the age of 6 weeks are allowed to be brought to NFRS shows for any reason.

When should I not show?

Do not show a rat if:
  • It is spotty, scabby or has any bites or scratches.
  • It bites.
  • It is snuffly or otherwise ill.
  • It is pregnant or just off a litter.
  • It is missing toes or other body parts.
  • It has tumours or other lumps and bumps.
  • It has no whiskers or has bald patches.
  • It is underage or small for its age.
  • It is too old (this varies from rat to rat).
  • It has external parasites.
  • It has an obvious kink in its tail.
Do not show any rat if:
  • You suspect or know your rats have a serious infectious disease
  • Any of your rats have lice
  • You have been to a show where an outbreak is believed to have occurred and the show secretary of the next show requests that you or your rats don't attend.

What are the risks of showing?

Rat shows do hold some risks and before considering bringing any rats to shows, see here for more information.

What about hairless rats?

The NFRS currently has two banned varieties, the hairless, or sphinx, and the tailess, or Manx. These varieties are not allowed within the show venue. For more information on why these are banned by the NFRS see here.

How do I get to the show?

See the show calendar for venue details and links to online maps.

What do I need to do on show day?

If you are just visiting, introduce yourself to the Show Secretary. He or she will introduce you to other rat owners and can tell you more about how the society works.

If you are showing, you will need to turn up and prepare your rats for judging. Doors usually open at least an hour before judging starts, so turn up early. Ask the Show Secretary for your tank labels and your entry list. If you are not sure of what to do, then please feel free to ask.

What time do I need to get my rats on the show bench?

All rats must be on the show bench 15 minutes before judging starts.

What do I do if I'm running late?

If you are running late and you anticipate that you will not make it to the venue in time for the start of judging, you need to contact the Show Secretary as soon as possible. If the Judge and the Show Secretary are agreed, judging may be postponed for up to thirty minutes provided efforts have been made to contact the show secretary prior to arrival.

What happens to my rat during a show?

Exhibitors place their rats in show tanks on sets of tables. There are usually two sets of tables (show benches); one for the pet classes and one for the variety classes. Behind each set of tables is the judging table.

Before judging starts, stewards look at the tank labels and place the tanks in order according to their class.

When the judging begins, the stewards bring all tanks in the first class to the judging table. One rat a time, the judge opens the tank and handles each rat. The judge compares the rat to the ideal laid down by the NFRS (see the variety standards). The judge's comments are written down and called a critique.

When all the rats in a class have been seen, the judge places the top four. Paperwork is completed for the show secretary and a coloured sticker is placed on the tank; red for first, blue for second, yellow for third and green for fourth. The tanks are returned to the show benches. This is repeated for all classes.

After all classes have been judged, the best of each class go through to the challenges. The best rats are brought back to the judging table and compared against each other. More coloured stickers are placed on the tank to say how the rats did in the challenge. Further paperwork is completed for the Show Secretary so he or she can prepare the critiques, cards, rosettes, cups, etc. for the presentation.

When rats are not being judged, tanks are placed on the show benches for people to see, but not to touch.

What if I want to leave the venue during the show?

You are welcome to leave the venue during the show, however, please ensure that the show secretary is aware that you are not in the building and has a contact number for you.

What happens after judging finishes?

Once the judging has finished you will be told by either the judge or the show secretary that you may collect your rats from the show bench.

The rosettes and cups are awarded after the room has been tidied and swept, tables wiped and put away and any chairs stacked as required. All offers of help with clearing up are gratefully received, if you are unsure of what you can do to help then just ask the Show Secretary or someone who looks like they know what they are doing. Unfortunately the clearing up is often left to the same few people at every show while everyone else stands around and talks. If you do not wish to help clear up, then please ensure that you put your rats away quickly so that those who are helping can clear up where you have been.

What do I need to do if I want to withdraw my rats?

If you need to withdraw your rats before the show, you need to contact the Show Secretary and let them know. It is best to phone them as many may not check the show emails after entries have closed.

If you need to withdraw your rats at the show, or have not told the Show Secretary in advance, tell them as soon as you can at the show and give back the label of the rat you have withdrawn.

You do not have to pay for rats which have been withdrawn in advance.

Where do I put my rubbish and substrate from show tanks?

The Show Secretary will provide bin sacks for disposing of substrate from show tanks and any other rubbish from the show. Please ensure that you use these bags, do not throw rubbish down the toilet, or into bins in the kitchen or toilets, or empty the substrate outside of the venue.

How do I get more involved with shows?

There are several ways you can get more involved with shows. Most shows will have a kitchen which needs volunteers to help run, offers are usually asked for in advance on the NFRS forum, but help on the day is never turned down. You can also ask the Show Secretary on the day if there is anything that you can help with.

If you are interested in pet judging or being a pet steward then contact the Pet Award Scheme Co-ordinator.

If you are interested in becoming a Judge, then the NFRS operate a judges' training scheme. You can find out more information about this here by contacting the judges' training co-ordinator.

If you are interested in becoming a Show Secretary, or having a show in your area, then contact the General Show Secretary.