Showing Frequently Asked Questions

We recommend you read through all the advice here before attending your first show. We have further articles of interest on our Show Articles page.

A rat show is a social meeting of rat owners, to share in their common interest. Most people will be exhibiting their rats in one of the two show sections we have: Varieties, where rats are judged against their variety standard, and Pets, where rats are judged on their temperament. There are often other fun activities which take place at shows such as raffles, quizzes etc. Most shows also have a kitchen, so food is available.
We hold shows across the country all year round. Most shows are held in local village halls, though some are held at agricultural events or larger multi-fancy shows (alongside rabbit, cavy or mice shows). Shows are usually on a Saturday, but we do hold some on Sundays and some across the weekend. Visit our Show Calendar for more details of individual upcoming shows.
The NFRS does not charge visitors to its shows, so you are free to look around or pop in to say hello! Introduce yourself to the Show Secretary, who will be able to tell you more about how the NFRS works. Where a show is part of a larger event, such as an Agricultural show, you may be charged admission. Details will be listed on the Show Calendar if this is the case. To enter your rats into a show, there is an entry fee of £1.50 per rat entered (£2 per rat at cup shows). Payment is made to the show secretary on the day.
If you are entering a rat, you need to turn up with enough time to get your rat ready for judging. Judging usually starts between 10am and 11am. Doors are usually opened an hour before judging starts. Rats must be benched 15 minutes before the advertised judging start time. See the Show Calendar for individual start times. If you are not entering rats, it’s advisable to turn up after the judging start time. This way you’ll avoid the mad rush whilst people sort their rats out! Shows usually end between 4:30pm and 6pm, when the presentation of awards occurs. Please be aware that all rats are required until the end of judging. Show personnel will let you know when rats can be removed from the judging bench. The award presentation only occurs after the hall has been cleaned up, so please help out at the end of the show by grabbing a broom!
Visit the Show Calendar for address details. Some shows have train stations/public transport links nearby, whilst others need to be accessed by car or taxi.
It would be nice to have a rat show on everyone’s doorstep. However, shows need to pay for themselves and need the support of volunteers to run them. Get involved at your closest shows by offering help to the General Show Secretary.
You don’t have to be a member to show your rats or visit our shows. You will be missing out on what the club has to offer, so ask about joining at the show! Only members are able to take home cups or trophies.
You will need to contact the show secretary, about a week before the show (and before the listed close of entry time). You can find contact details on the Show Calendar. You will need to provide details about you:
  • Your name. If you have a registered rattery you must still enter under your name, not your rattery name.
  • Your contact details (ideally a mobile number that is contactable on the day).
  • If you are a junior exhibitor (under 16).
  • If you are an NFRS member.
  • If you need any hire tanks (£3 each, max of 2 per exhibitor). Please bear in mind that these are limited in number, and you will need to bring your own suitable substrate, dry food and moisture source.
  • If you would like to buy a show tank (these are not available at all shows).
  • If you would like to transfer/deliver pre-arranged rats to other person(s) at the show. Only NFRS members are permitted to deliver rats via NFRS shows.
For each rat, you will need to tell the Show Secretary:
  • If the rat is male (buck) or female (doe).
  • If the rat is an adult (14 weeks or over) or a kitten (8 to 14 weeks).
  • The class you wish the rat to be entered in. (See below if you’re not sure what class you should be entering).
  • If the rat is eligible for the Novice award (i.e. you are a registered rattery and the rat was bred by you).
For example:
  • Joe Bloggs, 07123 456789, ABC Rattery, NFRS Member.
  • 2 Black adult does
  • 1 Agouti kitten buck (novice)
  • 1 pet buck
  • 1 pet doe
  • 1 hire tank required
Some show secretaries will take entries by phone (it is best to call between 7-9pm unless stated otherwise). If this is the case, the phone number will be listed on the NFRS forum and in Pro-Rat-a. If you are not a member but would like to enter via phone, please contact the General Show Secretary.

We have two shows you are able to enter. Varieties (rats are judged against their variety standard) and pets (rats are judged on their temperament). You can only enter your rat into one of these, unless the show is a dual-entry show; this will be listed on the Show Calendar.

If it’s your first show, you’re unsure which variety your rat is, or your rat does not conform to a standard (e.g. a mismarked rat), you should enter them into the pet class. Pet classes are determined by the owner (if you are an adult, junior (under 16), or registered Stud), and whether the rat is a buck or doe. Alternatively, you can have a look at our varieties page to determine the class your rat should go in. If you have entered them in pets, you could then ask someone at the show if you could enter them in the variety section next time.

If you wish to enter varieties, the Show Secretary can help you out with which class the rat should be in. If you’re entering Varieties, remember to let the Show Secretary know if the rat is a dumbo/rex, as well as their colour/markings.

It is the responsibility of the exhibitor to ensure the rat is entered into the correct class. Once judging has commenced, no class changes shall be permitted.

Most people enter their rats within a week of the closing date. The deadline for show entries can be found on the Show Calendar. Please make sure that you have had an email confirmation before the show, as sometimes emails get lost in cyberspace! Late entries are only accepted at the Show Secretary’s discretion.
If you need to withdraw a rat, please let the show secretary know either by emailing them before the show, or talking to them on the show day. You will not be charged for rats which have been withdrawn in advance, but must pay for any withdrawals on the day.
Rat shows do hold some risks. Before considering bringing any rats to a show, please read this article for more information.
Do not show a rat if:
  • It is spotty, scabby or has bites or scratches
  • It bites
  • It is snuffly or otherwise ill
  • It is pregnant or just off a litter
  • It is missing toes or other body parts
  • It has tumours or other lumps and bumps
  • It has no whiskers or bald patches
  • It is under 8 weeks old, or small for its age
  • It is too old (varies from rat to rat)
  • It has external parasites (lice etc.)
  • It has an obvious kink in its tail
Do not show any of your rats if:
  • You suspect or know your rats have a serious infectious disease
  • Any of your rats have lice
  • You have been to a show where an outbreak is believed to have occurred and the show secretary requests that you or your rats don’t attend
If a rat is not of a suitable health/temperament etc. for showing, it will be disqualified by the judge.
  • A healthy, friendly rat
  • An NFRS show tank; this is a particular kind of plastic tank (hire tanks are available).
  • Suitable tank substrate (see below)
  • Food for the tank – a piece of cucumber, carrot or apple for moisture, and a handful of dry food is permitted.
  • A small water bottle if the show is tented or on a hot day (the show secretary will advise if this is required). Mouse size is suggested.
Substrate used in tanks should be natural, brown or beige unscented substances – e.g. aspen, pale wood shavings, hemp, chopped/shredded card. For example:
  • Wood shavings
  • Shredded cardboard
  • Woodchip
  • Aubiose
  • Megazorb
  • Bedmax
You may not use BioCatolet or Carefresh.

We have a limited number of hire tanks available, up to 2 tanks per exhibitor. Please let the show secretary know if you require hire tanks. These cost £3 each.

If you wish to purchase your own show tanks, please ask the show secretary well in advance of the show. We have a limited number, and the lids are handmade by one of our members so they may not always be available. Show tanks cost £14 each (lid and base). You can also purchase tanks (£11) and lids (£3) separately if needed.

You must use one tank for each adult rat. You are permitted to show two same-sex kittens in the same tank, providing the appearances of the rats are clearly different.
The show secretary will provide bin sacks for disposal of show tank substrate. Please ensure you use these bags and do not throw rubbish down the toilet, into bins in the kitchen or toilets, or empty the substrate outside.

The NFRS does not have kitten sales at shows so you cannot buy rats at the show. If you have been in contact with a breeder before a show, they may be able to deliver them to a show for you. However, anyone delivering/exchanging rats to a show must be an NFRS member and inform the show secretary before the day. No rats should have shown any signs of illness within the last 14 days, or have been exposed to any rats of unknown background during this period.

Any pre-booked kittens must be 6 weeks or older. The seller must supply the buyer with documentation for each animal, indicating the breeder’s name and address and the kitten’s date of birth. No kittens under the age of 6 weeks are allowed at NFRS shows for any reason.

The NFRS currently has two banned varieties: the hairless (sphinx) and the tailless (Manx). These varieties are not allowed within the show venue. For more information please read this article.
If you are running late, please contact the show secretary as soon as possible. If the judge and show secretary agree, judging may be postponed for up to 30 minutes, providing contact has been made with the show secretary prior to arrival.

We are always after more volunteers/helpers at shows! There are many different ways you can get involved such as helping out in the kitchen, selling raffle tickets, sweeping up at the end of the day etc. Help on the day is never turned down; just ask the show secretary if you would like to volunteer to do a job.

If you are interested in judging, stewarding or becoming a show secretary at a show, please contact the General Show Secretary.

Exhibitors place their rats in show tanks on the judging bench. There are two sets of benches – one each for pets and varieties. Behind the benches is the judging table. Before judging starts, stewards will organise the tanks into class order.

When judging begins, stewards will bring up all tanks in the first class to the judging table. The judge will handle each rat, one at a time, and judge them against their variety standard. The judge’s comments are written down as a critique (which you will receive at the end of the show).

When all rats in a class have been judged, the judge places them in order (from first to fourth place). The rats are given a corresponding coloured sticker on their tank label: red (first), blue (second), yellow (third) or green (fourth). The tanks are then returned to the show benches. This is repeated for all classes and paperwork is completed by the show secretary.

After all the classes have been judged, the best rat of each class goes through to the challenges. More stickers are placed on the tank labels depending on how the rats have placed.

Benched rats/tanks may not be touched by anyone other than the show secretary, judge or stewards.

In extreme heat, as some of our summer shows can be, exhibitors can place water bottles on top of the show tanks for their rats. The show secretary will advise you if water bottles are required. Mark the water bottles with the animal’s pen number to avoid them getting lost. All rats at tented shows or where stated by Show Secretaries due to warm weather must have a water bottle for each individual tank. In colder weather it may be permissible to use white shredding bedding in addition to substrate. Please note that all Show Secretaries are encouraged to cancel any show where the weather may be detrimental to the rats, as their welfare is our priority. If this occurs, emails will be sent to those who have entered and messages will be posted on our website/Facebook page.
You are welcome to leave the venue during the show, however please make sure that the show secretary is aware you are leaving the building, and has a contact number for you.

Once judging has finished you will be told by the show personnel that you may collect your rats from the show bench.

The prize cards, rosettes and cups are presented after the hall has been tidied, swept, and tables and chairs have been put away. Any offers of help with clearing up are gratefully received, just ask somebody who looks like they know what they’re doing! Unfortunately, the clearing up is often left to the same few people at each show whilst everyone else stands around and chats. If you do not wish to help clear up, please ensure you have put your belongings and rats away quickly, so that those are helping can clear the hall.