Judging pets is a great way to spend show day. You get to handle (in other words cuddle and play with) loads of lovely rats and you even get your lunch! But as we all know there is no such thing as a free lunch, so you also have to pick a winner for each class and the challenges and write up a report to publish in StaratS.
Judging for the first time can be a bit daunting but we hope this guide will help to persuade you that you CAN do it. If you’d like to judge pets please let our show secretary know and you’ll be added to the list of potential judges.
At YRC shows pets are divided into seven classes:
- Adult-owned buck – P1
- Adult-owned doe – P2
- Junior-owned buck – P3
- Junior-owned doe – P4
- Breeder-owned buck – P5
- Breeder-owned doe – P6
- Best Rescue Pet – P7
The tanks will be labelled, and your steward will put them in order and bring them over to the judging table for you. The first rat in class P1 will be P101, then P102 etc.
Each class is judged separately, and you will place 1st to 4th (assuming you have 4 or more entries). This is where it gets hard, and personal preference clearly plays a part. There are no points to award or standards to compare against, like in varieties judging, but there are things to consider when making your decision.
The pet classes are judged on the rat’s friendliness and whether you would like to own it as a pet, e.g. whether they seem happy to be picked up, handled, stroked, etc. You should also consider whether the rat is healthy, free from scabs etc. and how clean and well prepared the rat is. The main decision, however, rests on your interpretation of what makes a good pet and which rat fits that best for you on the day.
Ill health must be mentioned and can lead to disqualification. Old injuries and healed war wounds will not lead to disqualification, neither will healed missing toes or tail injuries, however if the rat is bleeding, clearly uncomfortable, has a runny nose or eyes or has mites or lice it should be removed from the bench and returned to its owner.
If a rat is intractable i.e. it can’t be handled or it bites – it will also be disqualified. Sometimes a rat is nervous of the show atmosphere and may be happy to be stroked and admired in its tank, but not picked up. Most pet judges would not disqualify the rat for this, but it is unlikely that it would win.
After you have judged each of the initial classes you will move on to the challenges. This is where it starts getting really tough, as all the rats here have already been placed in their own class, so, presumably, you really liked them!
The first challenge is the adult-owned Pet, where you choose the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th placed rats from all the adult-owned rats. Ask your steward to bring back the 1st to 4th placed rats in P1 and P2 classes. You now judge these 8 rats against each other. REMEMBER, if a rat has already beaten another you cannot place them differently now. For example, if P102 was 1st and P107 2nd in their class, you cannot now place P107 higher in the challenge than P102. Next you repeat this process for junior-owned Pet.
When you have judged these classes, you have one final class: the best overall pet. Ask your steward to bring the 1st to 4th place from the adult challenge and junior challenge. Now you judge these 8 rats again against each other. The 1st in this class is Best Pet. The 2nd is Reserve Best Pet. They can both be adult-owned, or both junior-owned, or one of each.
Best Rescue Pet automatically goes to the highest placed rescue rat (you will be given a list of which these are). If no rescue rats have been placed in the challenges then you will need to decide on your favourite from amongst the others.
You can also award specials, such Prettiest Doe, Butchest Buck, Nicest Whiskers, Cutest Face etc. These are one-off awards, not classes, so you don’t have to list 1st to 4th. This is your chance to be imaginative and have a bit of fun.
The main thing is to enjoy your day, and maybe you’ll be tempted to train as a varieties judge or try another job at the YRC in the future.
Writing Your Report
Begin your report with a short introduction. This usually includes a thank you to the show secretary and your steward for their help on the day. Also put a bit about how you enjoyed your day and what the rats were like etc. The show secretary will give you a copy of the schedule on the day so you can match the pen number to the exhibitor and breeder names.
There is a basic format for setting out your report – if you can follow this you will save the StaratS editor a lot of time and stress!
Class Name (number entered) 1st (Pen No.) Owned by… bred by… Comments… Please put the placed rats at the top of the report for each class.
Stud names may be used for exhibitors and breeders. Rattery names are only used if the rattery has been registered with the YRC or NFRS (or both). You will get a list of these ratteries and NFRS stud names on show day.
Once you have completed the critique for each class, list the winners 1st to 4th for each class and for the challenges. For example:
- Adult Owned Pet Buck (15) 1st (P102) Owned by Fred Bloggs, bred by Rattery Rattery. Happy to come out of tank, but skitty. Beautiful blaze. Nice shiny fur. Settled down after a bit. 2nd (P107) Owned by Jane Jones, breeder unknown. Chunky rat. Smooth coat and velvety ears. Sniffing everything, should be a sniffer rat! Lovely clean chunky tail. Well prepared. Lovely long whiskers and nice hood.
- Adult Owned Pet Challenge
1st P102 Fred Bloggs
2nd P107 Jane Jones
3rd P215 Ethel Evans
4th P201 Rattery Rattery
- Junior Owned Pet Challenge
1st P405 Jamie Jones
2nd P302 Jamie Jones
3rd P308 Annie Smith
4th P402 Jake Brown
- Supreme Challenge
1st P405 Jamie Jones
2nd P102 Fred Bloggs
3rd P107 Jane Jones
4th P215 Ethel Evans
- Rescue Pet
1st P215 Ethel Evans