Rat Breeding Articles

Export Guidelines

Published in Pro-Rat-a 143, 2004

Every year there are many enquiries from overseas breeders who wish to export rats from the UK. These guidelines have been written to try to help anyone who is considering doing this.

Anyone considering exportation should first contact the committee, possibly via the NFRS web site, with their requests. If you come from the EU and are planning on coming over and picking up the rats yourself then this is much the best and cheapest method. Part of the reason for this is that you can view the stock for yourself and the other reason is that the restrictions on rodent travel seem to have been lifted across the EU. However, it is wise to check with your own local authorites to make sure that no local restrictions apply. On the down side, P & O ferries Dover - Calais is currently the only route that will carry rats to Europe (with the exception of Finnair, but these will charge you for another seat and you will still have to check that the pilot of your particular flight is prepared to take them), but you will need to tell P & O and to check in an hour before sailing. You will need to use proper carrying boxes, not cardboard carriers and obviously discretion is advised as regards other passengers etc.

If you are coming from outside the EU, and especially if you don't intend to come over yourself, then the best plan is to use a professional livestock carrier, who can pick the rats up from one place, vet them, box them up, book the flights and send them on their way. This is rather too much to expect any individual to do. However, carriers are expensive, and you should get prices before you embark on booking stock etc just in case the cost is too prohibitive. No airline will just let you turn up at the check-in with your rats in tow..unannounced! It is also very important that you check with your local authorites, as some may have restrictions and/or quarantine regulations that you will have to meet before you can bring rats in to your country. Because of the potential costs etc, exports are better done 'club to club' this way several individuals can benefit as well as shouldering some of the burden.

The following are some general points that you will need to consider:

  • Potential overseas buyers should give about 6 months notice of their requirements to give breeders enough time to breed what is required. Many varieties are rare and not available 'off the shelf'.
  • In many cases it will be necessary for the rats to be housed with one person before shipping. You need to establish with that person how many animals they are prepared to house, for how long, what payment would be required and how much running about they are prepared to do, e.g. picking up of rats etc.
  • We recommend that you view exports before they are shipped. However, if you are doing this purely from overseas, then the person housing the stock and the NFRS accepts no responsibility, financial or otherwise, for the quality or suitablity of that stock.
  • The buyer (importer) is responsible for all costs. In the case of the buyer coming over themselves then they should pay when they are here. If the buyer is not planning to visit then they must pay up any monies BEFORE the stock is shipped.
  • The buyer (importer) is responsible for all offical requirements, including checking with airlines, local authorities etc. Because this can be a minefield, we recommend that an animal shipping company is used who will handle boxing, vetting, shipping and any paperwork. It is not reasonable to expect your contact to do this. You will need to give the shipping company exact details of your boxing requirements if they are not used to handling rats.
  • Both the person housing the rats and the NFRS take no responsibility for the content of any contracts, family trees or other documents received from the sellers.
  • It is advised that all stock is quarantined on receipt. This is because while every effort is taken to ensure that the stock sent is healthy, latent disease sometimes surfaces due to the stress of travel. Also rats from one country may be carrying diseases that don't make them ill because they are used to them. These diseases may cause illness in a population that is not used to them however. It is not normal for rats in the UK to be tested to see if they are carrying any infections.

For the Seller when dealing with overseas buyers;

  • Only sell them stock you would be happy to breed with yourself. If there are any faults etc in the line(s) then you must tell them first.
  • All stock should be young (under six months) and in good condition.
  • Your stock should be free from infectious disease to the best of your knowledge.
  • If you consider, (especially in the case of a new variety) that they are not yet ready for export then you should decline.
  • It is advised that you collect any payment at the point of sale. While in most cases fanciers are honest when it comes to money there have been some who refused to pay up.
  • Any breeder's contract you may wish to set up with the buyer is between you and that person. The NFRS accepts no responsibility for these contracts and will not arbitrate in the case of any dispute.
  • The NFRS issues this document for guidance only. It takes no collective responsibility for the advice given in this document or for any problems arising during exports. However, in the case of disputes between buyers and sellers, where both are members of the NFRS, then they may bring their complaints to the committee in the usual manner.