American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the Spring 2000 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

How to Host an AFRMA Display

By Nichole Royer

E very year AFRMA participates in over ten displays at various locations [Ed. Note: Currently the number is less]. These have included the Orange County Fair, San Fernando Valley Fair, Los Angeles County Fair, as well as the America’s Family Pet Expo in Pomona [now in Orange County], the Animal Fair at Wm. S. Hart Park, the Irvine Animal Care Center, and most recently, the 4-H Animal Fair in Norco, as well as many one-day one-time displays.

Why Displays?

These events serve a very important purpose. They expose the general public to rats and mice and go a long way towards dispelling the negative myths about them. They also serve as one of the best mediums for introducing people to rats and mice as pets and disseminating correct information about their care. Breeders use displays to advertise upcoming litters and many people have repeatedly come to the displays every couple of years, specifically, to find a reputable source for their next pet.

Displays serve as a vital link for people who own rats and mice. Many people never know there are others out there who are also crazy about these little critters. Imagine their surprise when they come across a whole display on them!

Lets face it, the best reason to have displays is because they are fun. It’s a chance for a bunch of rat and mouse enthusiasts to get together and spend some time educating the public about our favorite furry friends. It serves as a wonderful way to be reunited with old friends while providing the opportunity to make new ones.

What Does This Have To Do With You?

The current AFRMA displays all operate in Southern California. The displays are staffed by volunteers who enjoy talking to the public about their favorite pets. If you live in Southern California and would like to help out at a display, please contact AFRMA. [Ed. Note: We currently need volunteers for the Orange County Fair during the month of July.] Volunteers at these events receive free entrance passes, and for some events we are also able to provide free parking.

What happens if you don’t live in Southern California or if your schedule does not permit you to come visit one of our regular displays? Don’t lament the fact that you can’t come and share the joy you take in your critters—host your own display! That’s right! Any AFRMA member, in good standing, may hold an AFRMA display in any part of the country (or world, for that matter).

How to Host Your Own Display

Hosting a rat and mouse display is very simple. The first step is to find a location. Almost every town has some sort of fair or animal expo at some point during the year. Often times, pet shops will also host them. Usually, they are thrilled to be asked if a rat or mouse display can be included.

Even if you cannot find such an event in your area, you could still have a display. Ask your local pet shop if you can set up a table on a Saturday. This is a great way to meet new people who also love rats and mice.

What Goes Into The Display?

Displays can be as elaborate or as simple as your interest and/or space dictate. There are three main components to a display: literature/posters, animals, and people.

The amount of space you have available dictates how elaborate you can make the display. Fairs will often supply you with a 6- or 8-foot table. This allows enough space for a very elaborate display including posters, large “playgrounds” to show off the animals in, and plenty of room for lots of human helpers. Other displays will require you to bring your own table, in which case you are limited to whatever size table you have. A card table actually makes a wonderful display table, and can easily accommodate a cage of critters, a set of brochures, and a poster or sign telling people why you are there.

  • Brochures and flyers providing information on care, feeding, housing, and other pertinent topics are a key part of any display. AFRMA has an extensive selection of such flyers. Limited numbers of these are available to members planning small displays, and masters are available for those wishing to make additional copies. There are several posters displaying different colors and varieties of rats and mice which can be purchased from AFRMA or other sources. These can be very educational and add much to displays, as do homemade posters displaying the benefits of owning rats and mice.
  • Animals are also a key part of any display. They make the display more interesting and draw a lot of people over to see what you are there for. When choosing animals for displays it’s important to choose those that are in good health and are friendly towards people. There is a certain amount of stress for an animal going to a display and it doesn’t add much if the rat or mouse hides all the time.

    Animals coming to displays are best housed in glass aquariums with secure lids. Plastic carriers are also good for mice. Wire cages can be dangerous because many people like to poke their fingers inside and this tends to make the resident animal very uncomfortable. Signs should be posted on aquariums asking folks to refrain from tapping or banging on the aquariums since this can also be extremely stressful.
  • People are of course the key piece that makes displays the wonderful events that they are. If there are several rat and mouse enthusiasts in your area, displays can provide a great opportunity for you to get together and share your stories and problems. If you do not know anyone else who loves these little furry guys, hosting a display is a great way to meet someone. Displays are also a great way to share your interest with people who have never thought of a rat or mouse as a pet. It’s surprising the number of people who are very friendly and very interested in our furry friends. *

Do’s and Dont’s
for Hosting Displays

  • Do be friendly and smile.
  • Don’t be offended by people who have negative comments.
  • Do respond to negative comments with a positive one.
  • Don’t force anyone who is nervous about rats and mice to come near.
  • Do encourage them to strike up a conversation with you.
  • Do keep your animals’ health and safety in mind at all times.
  • Don’t continue the display if you are concerned about your critters.
  • Do answer lots of questions and share personal experiences.
  • Don’t be afraid to say, “Gee, I don’t know.”
  • Do keep your display neat and clean.
  • Don’t leave your area a mess when the display is over.
  • Do have a great time.
  • Do make new rodent-loving friends.
  • Do leave everyone with a positive attitude about rats and mice.
  • Do spread the word about our great little furry friends.

NOTE: Clubs should have a first-aid kit at their events; also have a mailing list available for people to sign up to get the information for your upcoming club activities. Also, if you let people pet your animals, have a spray bottle of disinfectant and paper towels or hand sanitizer for them to clean their hands before touching.

Go to “Tips On Starting A Club”
“Some Ideas On Forming Your Club”
“AFRMA Show Overview” New!

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Updated March 21, 2022