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AusRFS Rescue Service


The AusRFS takes its animal welfare role very seriously

and our Rescue Service is one of the most important

aspects of our Society. 

Because we promote rats as pets,

we believe we also have a responsibility to provide

a safety net  for pet rats  if things go wrong.



Our Rescue Service has been in operation for 21 years.

During this time we have taken in & rehomed over 10,000 rats. 

The usual average is around 300 per year, 

but some years we go well above that number.

Our Rescue Service is totally funded by donations and fundraising.

Where do the rescue rats come from?

Unfortunately, like cats and dogs, pet rats can end up without a home for a variety of reasons and through no fault of their own. They can be lost or abandoned, their owners might surrender them because they are no longer able to care for them or because they simply don’t want them anymore.


Changes in family circumstances and owners moving house are the most common reasons for surrender. We also get a lot of calls for help from people who have bought female rats from a unethical breeder or pet shop only to discover that the rat was already pregnant.


The majority are surrendered directly to us by their owners, but many animal shelters in Victoria, also pass on pet rats to us for rehoming.


How does the Rescue Service Operate?

The Rescue is run and financed by the AusRFS. The Rescue Service Procedures and Code of Conduct are contained in the AusRFS Bylaws. All rats that come into the Rescue Service undergo a basic health check and parasite treatment and receive medical treatment if necessary. Then they go to live with one of our Foster Carer Team  for a while so their health and personality can be assessed, and to be sure that females are not pregnant, before being offered for adoption. 


What sorts of rats are available?

We usually have variety of rats, but it’s the nature of rescue that numbers fluctuate and the ages, sexes, personalities & colours available varies.


Since pregnant or nursing females are frequently surrendered, we often have babies which have either come to us at a very young age or been born in our care. But we also have older rats. These lovely oldies still have a lot of love to give and deserve a second chance of a forever home.


We always do our best to find homes for all our wards, but rats are only ever adopted into homes that are appropriate to the particular rat and visa versa. If we don’t have a rat that is suitable, the person can be placed on a waiting list, as things can change from day to day.

Do rescue rats make good pets?

Yes ! Since all our rescues are housed in small numbers in the homes of our Foster Carer Team, we have a very good understanding of each rat's personality. Most of of our rescues have come from loving homes where they have been well cared for, very few have come from bad situations. But rats are very adaptable and naturally bonded to humans, so even those that have been abandoned or come from bad situations, settle into their new lives very easily. The vast majority of rats brought to AusRFS displays to meet and greet with the public are rats that our members have adopted from our Rescue Service. Rescues are also just as likely to win prizes at rat shows.

Unfortunate pasts & happy endings

Over the years we have saved rats from some terrible situations. Left abandoned in their cages with no food or water,  in  flats after their owners have moved out, put out on the nature strip for hard rubbish collection, in a rubbish skip, in a box on a park bench in over 40o heat and left out in the cold & rain.

On a few occasions we have been called on to take in large groups from animal hoarders. Either after the people concerned have realised that the situation has got out of hand, or after the animals have been seized by the authorities. The three largest groups consisted 300, 147 and 119 rats varying in ages from newborn to elderly.


Dealing with these large groups is a big stretch on the society’s financial resources as well as involving a lot of work, time and emotional commitment by our members who provide special care, socialisation and training where needed. But we always put the welfare of the rats first and each is treated as an individual - that’s what the AusRFS is all about.  

Rescues Currently Available

The rats available for adoption changes from day to day as rats come into rescue and others are adopted.


Location of Rats

All rats are with foster carers located in different locations around Melbourne and some rural areas but we can often make arrangements to drop rats off to their new homes if distance is an issue.

Some of babies from the group of 147

rescued from an animal hoarder,

where they had been kept in horrific conditions.

Some of the babies from the photo above,

all grown up and happy in their forever homes. 

Above: Bolt & Scrat.

Below: Tarquin

Some of rats from the group of 300


Rats Julies 11 (1 of 1).jpg

Adopting from the AusRFS Rescue Service

All rats are adopted directly from the AusRFS, never via a third party. New owners complete an adoption agreement agreeing to the Conditions of Adoption as listed below and receive full care information and ongoing support. The small adoption fee goes back to fund future rescues. We have a full return policy for the life of all rats adopted from us.


 Conditions of Adoption: 

  • The rat/s is/are adopted as a companion animal and family member and to be cared for as such. The rat/s is/are to live with humans inside the adopter’s home or other home as approved by the Rescue Service Co-ordinator. The rat/s is/are not to be housed in outside areas such as a shed, carport or balcony.

  • Adopters must be over the age of 18 years of age. If under 18 parental/guardian consent must be provided and the parent/guardian must complete the adoption agreement. (This is a legal requirement.)

  • Under no circumstances is the rat/s to be bred from.


  • The Adopter agrees to keep the rat/s in a safe and comfortable environment inside their home at all times, ensuring the rat/s is/are fed an appropriate diet and have food and fresh water available at all times, and avoiding temperature extremes or placing the rat/s in a situation where another animal could cause harm to it. The Adopter is expected to supervise small children around the rat/s.


  • The Adopter agrees to attend to the health needs of the rat/s, including keeping them in a sanitary environment and providing proper medical treatment should it be necessary.


  • The adopter will be provided with information regarding the rat/s, such as age, medical condition, temperament and history where known and to the best of our ability, and taking into account any privacy issues in regards to the rat’s surrender or rescue.


  • If at any time, the adopter decides they no longer want or cannot keep the rat/s for any reason, the rat/s must be returned to the AusRFS. The AusRFS will take the rat/s back no questions asked. The rat/s will then be rehomed.


  • If the adopter returns the rat/s to the AusRFS within 30 days of date of adoption then the AusRFS will make a full refund of adoption the fee.


Please cut and past the questions in the box below into an email and send your answers along with a photo of your cage. Then our Rescue Service Co-ordinator will be in touch to help find your perfect match. 

If you don't own a cage yet please read the note about cages below. Feel free to send your adoption application now, and email your cage photo when you have one. 


  • Name


  • Phone number


  • Suburb/area

  • How many rats you were thinking of adopting?

  • Male or female? 

  • Approximate age?

  • When were you thinking of adopting?

  • If the rat is for a child – how old are they?

  • Will these be your first rats?   If not - what experience you have with rats. 

  •  If you currently have rats please tell us a little about them? How many, their age, sex, if they are desexed, etc.

  • Do you have a cage?   If so what type/size and what is the largest spacing between the bars. Please send a photo of your cage.

Please email your answers along with any other information that might be helpful along with photo of cage (if you have one) to:


                                 NOTE RE CAGES

New Owners PLEASE read this !!!

The main reason for delays in adoption is that new owners have purchased an unsuitable cage.

For information about what makes a suitable cage please go to the  Cages Page and download our Cage Advice document. This is especially important if you are new to rats, as a lot of cages advertised as being suitable for rats, are not suitable at all. Please, please check the bar spacing! This is the most common mistake new owners make. Don't waste your money on an unsuitable cage. If in doubt please contact us BEFORE purchasing to make sure the cage is suitable.  Send us a link to the cage and we will check it for you. Our club also has a few cages available for purchase.

If you don’t have a cage yet then you are still welcome to submit an adoption application to start the adoption process. Once you have a cage please send a photo of it set up (not a stock or website photo) so we know you are rat-ready. Obviously you will need a suitable cage set up in an area of your house before you can take your rats home. 


$50 for an undesexed male or female

$90 for a desexed male

$120 for a desexed female

Any additional contribution is greatly appreciated and helps us continue helping rats in need. The adoption fee for a desexed rat is less than half the cost of desexing surgery.

Desexing Policy & Rebate

Desexing has health and temperaments benefits (especially the prevention of mammary tumors in girls), as well guaranteeing that rats won't be bred from. Therefore our Rescue aims to desex where possible. However desexing is expensive so we offer both desexed and undesexed rats for adoption.

If an undesexed rat is adopted.  If adopter decides to have the rat desexed, the AusRFS will pay the adopter a rebate of $75 for Males and $100 for Females after the surgery to help with the cost. 


In order the claim the rebate, the adopter must have the rat desexed by a vet who is experienced in rat desexing. On our Vet List page there are vets marked as "recommended for desexing", we highly encourage adopters to use one of these vets as they have desexed rats for our Rescue, so we know their work and are able to recommend them.  Some of these vets offer our adopters a discount if they show a copy of their adoption agreement.  


When adopting undesexed rats, adopters are provided with a copy of the AusRFS Desexing Advice document which contains information about desexing as well as pre and post op care advice.  Read this document by clicking the title above. 


The desexing surgery must occur within 4 months of the date of adoption for rebate to be paid.  A longer time frame is applicable under special circumstances such as: If the rat can’t be desexed within this time due to illness, or not reaching the required weight for surgery (most vets won’t operate on rats under 300gr), or other circumstances as agreed to by the AusRFS Rescue Service Co-ordinator.


After the surgery, the adopter must submit a completed "Desexing Rebate Application" (which is included in the Adoption Agreement) via email , along with a copy of the vet invoice . The AusRFS will then pay the rebate into their nominated account.

Please contact the AusRFS if you have misplaced your adoption agreement or need a copy of the Desexing Rebate Application.  

Adoptions made under the previous desexing arrangements

The desexing rebate arrangements outlined above came into operation in early April 2023. The AusRFS will honor the terms of Adoption Agreements made under the previous arrangements. Anyone who adopted undesexed rats under the previous arrangements with the agreement that the AusRFS would have the rats desexed, MUST contact the AusRFS and we will arrange to have their rats desexed by our vet and will cover all costs.  

If you have any questions, please contact the AusRFS. 


If you would like to speak to someone about any aspect of rat ownership, cages, supplies, general care or have general questions about our

Rescue Service please contact the AusRFS on  0401 741 162.


For adoption, or surrender inquires please contact our

Rescue Service Co-ordinator on 0411 670 215. 


All email inquiries to:


Donations of any amount are always gratefully received.

All donations to the AusRFS are automatically allocated to our Rescue Service

to be used solely for food, housing and medical treatment

for the wards of our Rescue Service.

Our account details are: 

BSB:              033060

Account No:   328949

Name:            Australian Rat Fanciers Society Inc.


Please use the word Donation as a reference to the payment and include your name if possible. Please also send an email to ausrfs@ausrfs, to alert us to the donation and allow us to express our gratitude. 

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