Here at Angell Pets we are always looking at ways of helping the environment and helping fellow local businesses wtih new ideas. We were pleased to trial out a new product that was presented to us by a local recycling company, although when it was presented we were still closed for the recent relocation and refurbishment. Since then we have trialled the product with our own animals in store and are happy to report excellent results.
The product is going to be branded as “Nest” bedding. Actually it is so new that the brand name is not finalised but I am asssured this is the front runner. For the time being we are selling it under our own Angell Pets ® brand.
As part of the teabag manufacturing process, a lot of offcut teabag paper is produced, prior to the final teabag pressing and cutting. This paper is very soft and absorbant and has not been treated with any chemicals (or used in teabag testing, so it is not stained with tannins). A local recycling company has the contract for disposing of this waste and was looking for a novel solution. This is when they approached us for our advice on its suitability as an animal bedding. We thought it a good idea and after investigating the contents agreed to give it a try. We have since used all the material we were given for the trial and it has been a resounding success.
Not only is the product a safe animal bedding, suitable for all small mammals, including rats as it is dust free and absorbant but as it is untreated it is readilly compostable. Not only will you be giving your pet an excellent product but you will be helping to prevent this material ending up in landfil and supporting local businesses. Also it is available in larger bags than contemporary products making it much more cost effective. We are selling 1kg bags for £3.59, compared to the nearest product available, Safebed which is £1.09 for approx 90g or £12.11 per kg! It even compares well with other substrate products used for rats, with their sensitive respiratory tracts.
Angell Pets ® and APL™ are registered trade marks of Angell Pets Ltd
Angell Pets has bred and sold fancy rats since we opened. They are a popular pet for good reason. They are relatively easy to care for, friendly, inquisitive and intelligent and seem to thrive on interaction with their owners. Many owners however are unaware of the history of their pet.
Nowadays most people in the UK would think of the rat as a native species. Far from it. Domesticated rats derive from the brown rat (Rattus norvegius). This species only arrived in Britain around 1720 so it has only been here for just under 300 years, that’s only 150 years longer than the grey squirrel (from the USA) and a over a thousand after the rabbit (Romans soldiers kept them for meat, bringing them from Spain). Despite this, current population estimates are a minimum of 6.5 million (more than that if you include sewers, tips and post breeding numbers).
A common misconception voiced when people see rats in the shop is that they were responsible for the plague. Well for the black death (1300s) and bubonic plague (1600s) which each killed a third of the nations population, they have an excellent alibi – they weren’t even here (in fact they hadn’t even completed their march across Europe from their Asian homeland by then).
The animal responsible for the major plagues in the UK was actually the black rat (Rattus rattus) or “ship rat”. Black rats (originally brought over by the Romans in ships) are now quite rare in mainland UK, restricted to only two colonies in coastal areas and a population of around 1300. Part of the reason for the decline of the black rat is habitat – black rats like empty buildings with plenty of food, like warehouses and docks, which have disappeared or been converted into flats. Brown rats prefer agricultural land although they obviously do well in urban settings too. Also the black rat is smaller and a lot of predators will selectively feed on smaller rodents (studies show that owls prefer to eat mice and voles and any brown rats taken tend to be smaller juveniles). Cats (over 10 million owned cats in the UK) too will tend to take easier, smaller prey leaving the black rat at a disadvantage. In the end the larger (and more carnivorous – they will kill smaller rodents) brown rat has been able to out compete its smaller, more vegetarian relative.
Brown rats were originally domesticated by the rat catchers. Keen to show they were good at their job and promote their services they would keep one alive in a cage. Obviously they wanted one that wouldn’t try to rip their face off at the earliest opportunity so would select the tamest and breed from them. Over time others took to keeping rats, always selecting for tameness and the domestic fancy rat was born. Now rats are bred for colour, coat, ear shape etc. and fancy rat societies abound.
So one invasive alien species that arrived around 2000 years ago with the Romans (from India originally) has been largely pushed out by another arriving 1700 years later. Just goes to show that although most would agree that invasive species can cause major problems, sometimes there are potential benefits. After all we don’t really have the plague in the UK anymore and we wouldn’t have one of the best small animal pets there is.