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.


To date we have taken in & rehomed over 9,600 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 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?

All rats that come into the Rescue Service undergo a basic health check and parasite treatment and receive medical treatment if necessary. Then they are either housed with our Rescue Service Co-ordinator or fostered by club members 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.


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 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.


Do rescue rats make good pets?

Yes ! Rats are very adaptable and naturally bonded to humans, even those that have been abandoned or come from bad situations, settle into their new homes very easily. Some owners even say that rescues are more loving, and seem to be grateful for their new life. The majority of rats brought to AusRFS displays to meet and greet with the public are rescues that our members have adopted. Rescues also win just as many prizes at rat shows as those from top breeders. In fact the winners of the 2015 Rat of the Year Awards in both Junior & Senior Divisions were adopted from our Rescue Service.

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.  


We aim to desex as many of our rescue rats as possible. Our club subsidises the cost of the desexing surgery which is quite expensive, even with the discount given by our vet. So we actually make a heavy loss on the adoption of desexed rats. But the health benefits (especially the prevention of mammary tumors in girls) and the guarantee of the rat not being bred from, makes the surgery very worthwhile.


However, not everyone can afford the higher adoption fee. So adopters have the choice of desexed or undesexed rats.

Rats need to weigh 300 grams before they can be desexed. The average rat reaches this weight at about 4 months. So if people adopting babies, want them desexed, they pay the adoption fee for a desexed rat and take the rat home. Then when the rat reaches 300 grams, the  owner contacts our Rescue Co-ordinator, who makes the appointment with our vet.  The owner usually drops the rat to the Rescue Co-ordinator the day before the operation and the co-ordinator transports the rat to and from the vet and keeps the rat overnight to ensure they have recovered fully from the anesthetic before going home. But we are flexible with this, and can take care of the rat for longer after their operation if the owner wishes. 

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



$25 undesexed male or female
$50 desexed male
$60 desexed female 


The rats available for adoption changes from day to day 

as rats come into rescue and others are adopted.


Initial inquires are best done via email.

Please provide the information below to Julie McInnes, AusRFS Rescue Service Co-ordinator

via the AusRFS email address

Our Rescue Service phone number is 0414 864 278. If there is no answer then please send a text with your name and phone number and Julie will get back to you asap. 


Please provide the following information in order to find your perfect match: 


•   Name


.   Phone number


•   Suburb/area

•   How many rats you were thinking of adopting?

•   Male or female, approximate age.

•   Do you need the rat to be desexed?

•   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 – what do you have?

•   Do you have a cage?  If so what sort/size.  If possible please send a photo of your cage.

If you don’t have a cage yet please contact us BEFORE purchasing. This is especially important if you are new to rats. As a lot of rat cages advertised for rats are not suitable for rats at all. We can give advice on cages, and also have a few cages available for purchase. Please see the Cages page under the About Pet Rats tab.

Please let us know anything else that might be helpful.

Julie is located in Cranbourne but we can often make arrangements to drop rats off to their new homes if distance is an issue.



Donations of any amount are always gratefully received.

Any money donated to the AusRFS goes into our Rescue Service account to be used solely for food, housing and medical treatment for the wards of our Rescue Service.