Rat Care and Considerations
As is outlined in our rules, judge guidelines, and tube specifications, the Barn Hunt Association puts a great deal of emphasis proper rat care. We do not allow rats to be harmed and are very particular about ventilation, rest breaks, etc. Many of the rats used in Barn Hunt are personal pets and seem to actually enjoy their interaction with the dogs. I am copying our rat care segment of the rules below.
Rat Care and Safety
All attempts must be made to ensure rat safety at Barn Hunt events. The rat tube should be sturdy and secure and should not be crushable by canine jaws. Suggested rat tube construction can be found in Appendix C. Clubs are not required to construct tubes exactly to these specifications, but any tube construction must allow good ventilation and room to move for the rats. Four inch diameter PVC for the main tube construction is required. Three inch diameter PVC is not accepted. Tube length should be at least 10″. Black (ABS) piping is strongly discouraged and should not be used in hot climate areas. Judges should be able to easily and safely shift tubes around the course. Rats must always have litter in their tube to help with sanitation. Rats should not be worked continuously through an entire day, and should be traded out as necessary to a safe location away from the ring (more often in hot weather) for breaks and water. Clubs/organizations may need as many as 10 rats per day to ensure proper rest times for the rats. Rats are never to be killed at the end of the day.
If anyone has any concerns about rat care at Barn Hunt events, feel free to contact me personally.
Unfortunately the animal rights group PETA is attempting to discredit Barn Hunt by accusing us of being inhumane to rats. PETA is against all animal use for any reason. To learn more about PETA and the Humane Society of the United States and their radical and extremist views, go to http://www.humanewatch.com