Exporting via air is not for the faint hearted!
It does involve a fair amount of stress but something I’ve learned from having
pretty well done the whole export process from start to finish, is that the most
important thing is planning.
There is a very large need to make a plan and stick to that plan – seems weird
saying that related to rats in some ways, as my other hobby is scuba diving and
we always say ‘plan your dive, dive your plan’ as being the safest way to
I’ve had a fair amount of experience of
exporting to Europe via ferry and in comparison; it is painless and cheap
compared to flying rats to further destinations like the USA, but then you might
remember an article I wrote on the stresses of my first experiences of exporting
and importing from Europe a few years back… Note that while this article is
primarily about exporting to the USA, all of the below needs to be considered
for any country that is outside of sensible driving distance/ferry crossing, so
that does mean most of Europe and all other continents.
The first thing to understand is that the basic
cost for shipping to the USA as of November 2004 based on British Airways is
going to be approximately £200 for basic export cost, plus £100 per crate, plus
the cost of buying the actual crates, plus vet check costs, plus the actual cost
of the rats. With the exchange rate currently at approx $1.8/£1, it makes it
very expensive at the American end.
I think one of the most important things to for
the foreign importer to do well in advance, is build communication with the
breeders in the UK they plan to export from. Get a good idea of the rats, the
varieties and the breeding ethics and ideas the breeder has on working with
their lines and be prepared to work with them, even if they are an ocean away!
Being realistic, it is most likely to either be New Varieties wishing to be
exported or in the case of established varieties, will either be to test their
own lines for matches in genes or to improve on their lines.
Realistically because we’re looking at not being
able to check out new owners and homes in the way many breeders like to over
here, the export needs to be a ‘club to club’ export, with the backing of
societies in both countries. It may be that an export company is used or
individuals handle the export on behalf of the club; like I chose to in the case
of the recent one as I wanted to ‘experience’ and understand the process after
the other USA export earlier this year didn’t go quite to plan.
From experience, the ideal is to start planning
actual timescales at least 6 months before the actual export and get your
‘shopping list’ sorted. I know it sounds like an awful term for rats, but if
you’ve got a list of ideals and you manage to get about two-thirds of that list
bred and timed to perfection, you’ll be doing well!
Start making lists and planning timescales – one
thing we discussed after the latest export was that maybe a form of agreement or
project plan should be implemented so everyone knows exactly what they have to
do and where they stand.
Things to consider:
After we had managed to arrange and sort out all
of the above the result from the latest export was positive. Rats from Ann
Storey, Veronica Simmons, Deb Mallett & Ed Reay, Julie Oliver and I are now
living in California and Texas area with Concepcion Perez, Jennifer Flores,
Elisabeth Brooks, Sarah Easter and Kirstin Allan. These breeders will have the
opportunity to work with the first Burmese and black eyed
cream/Himalayan/Siamese rats in America, hopefully work out some genetics
information between our minks, pearls and chocolates and their own genes and
hopefully work out if the roan rats exported are the same as anything they
already have over there and start a breeding program with them.
The big positives for me were BA who rang Sarah
within an hour of me booking the flight for the rats, to check she was going to
be there at Houston Airport to collect the rats. Also getting a running
commentary via Elisabeth on messenger from Sarah on mobile phone at the airport
just after they’d been collected from customs and being told that none of the
rats showed any signs of stress from the flight and all were fit and well was a
Additional stress was had (by all of us!) on the domestic onward flight to
California being delayed due to bad weather and then the rats being shut into
the cargo area at Sacramento for a further 5 hours until they opened, but all
were fine and did not appear to have suffered for their ordeal.
I am now looking forward to hearing how my rats
are getting on and seeing their offspring on the websites of these breeders as
the months go on. To view pictures of the rats that were exported, go
Article written by Estelle in 2005