Following a successful partnership earlier this year between the Scottish Women’s Institutes (SWI) and the Scottish SPCA where SWI members knitted colourful dog jackets to make dark dogs more appealing to rehomers, the two leading Scottish charities are working together again.
SWI members are being asked to knit rat hammocks to provide a warm refuge for the rodents who love snuggling up together in a group off the ground.
SWI Chairman Linda Retson says, “We’re often approached to ask our members to use their craft skills in unusual ways – but this is a new one for us. We’re told that rats tend to like high spots, they like to get up on their perches and observe what is going on. A hammock is cosy, comfy, and snug. They are also very sociable animals that like to be together so you will often find them all together in the one hammock. I know many members have knitted blanket squares before and I suppose this is very similar.”
Sharon Comrie, Scottish SPCA superintendent adds: “We were so pleased with the colourful dog jackets that SWI members knitted for dark-coated dogs who arrive in our rehoming centres so we thought that members might like to help us again – this time helping out small rodents.
“While rats may be notorious for chewing things, they don’t chew their hammocks which goes to show just how much they love them.
“When it comes to rehoming, a rat hammock can be taken to the owner’s existing rats to scent before the new rat is introduced. Hammocks are not only suitable for rats, but they can be used for other rodents like degus and gerbils too.”
“Stretchy fabrics are ideal for hanging from hooks at the top of a rat cage and they simply love nesting in them.
“All that’s needed is a knitted or crocheted square that can be fixed into a hammock shape.
“Any rat hammocks donated to our rehoming centres will be put to very good use, and it would be great to have enough for our centres and for the new owners of the rodents to take away with them to provide their new pets with comfort and security as they settle into their new forever homes.”
The ideal hammock would be around eight inches square and can be knitted, crocheted, made from dishcloths, socks or any other scrap materials. These can be hung from metal hooks on the roof of the rat cage, either by its corners or with incorporated ties.
Throughout 2017 the SWI’s centenary year, members have been encouraged to share their craft skills and knitters came to the aid of dark-coated dogs who find it more difficult to find a new home, a recognised condition known as black dog syndrome.
The colourful coats they created resulted in dark dogs from the Scottish SPCA centres hitting the headlines as they modelled their natty knitted jackets.
The SWI has taken steps to become relevant to women living in towns and cities as well as country areas, introducing changes that have resulted in new branches being formed where members take part in speed crafting, Segway racing, rum tasting, book groups and more. Modern meetings complement the existing network of traditional branches where the focus is on home skills, family welfare and citizenship.
Combined, all Institutes are continuing the legacy of an organisation where generations of Scottish women have learned life skills, arts and crafts, taken up topical issues and made friends.
For more details of how to find your nearest Institute, or advice on how to set up a new one, visit www.theswi.org.uk or go Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ScottishWomensInstitutes
Knitted or crocheted squares can be handed in to Scottish SPCA at:
- Aberdeenshire – Drumoak, Banchory AB31 5AJ
- Caithness and Sutherland – Balmore, Dounreay, by Thurso KW14 7YB
- Highlands and Islands – 5 Inshes, Inverness IV2 5BA
- Ayrshire and South West Scotland – Millview, No. 4 Holding, Mainholm, Ayr KA6 5HD
- Angus, Fife and Tayside – Petterden, Dundee DD4 0QD
- Edinburgh and Lothians – Mansfield Road, Balerno EH14 7JU
- Lanarkshire – Bothwell Road, Hamilton ML3 0SB
- Glasgow – 125 Kinnell Avenue, Cardonald, Glasgow G52 3RY
- Dunbartonshire and West Scotland – Dumbarton Road, Milton G82 2UA
Call 03000 999 999 for more details and opening times.