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The Pet Rat Who Conquered Social Media

Marty Mouse is more than just a rat with a fun name; he is an Internet phenomenon who helps other rats.

Rebecca Stout
Posted: February 24, 2015, 9:45 p.m. EST

Who’s that adorable rodent in all of the photos splashed across the Internet? Why, it’s Marty Mouse! Obviously, Marty is not a mouse, but an adorable fawn-colored rat with the most endearing face you can imagine. This tiny champion uses his charm to advocate for rats and help raise funds for rat shelters. He does this via his mom’s brilliant photography.

This is a story of rags to riches. Marty was found at a pet store where he had lived for many months unwanted. That is until May 6, 2013, when Sarah Hunt fell in love with him and adopted him. The little lonely rat who had lived in a small plastic box soon came to own three houses — the large main house that he and his family lived in, a daytime house in his mom’s office, and a nighttime house in their bedroom. He lived in luxury showered with Yogi treats (in moderation). No longer lonely, he lived with a forever family consisting of two human parents (Sarah and her husband, Bill) and eight cats. 

He was not just rich materialistically, but rich in that he was smothered with love. He was not just loved by his family, but by people from around the world who got to know him through the adorable photos taken by Hunt, a talented professional photographer (Check out her other work at the Sarah Hunt website). 

rat snuggling
© Sarah Hunt 
Snuggling was one of Marty Mouse’s favorite things to do.

Hunt explained where the ideas came from for the creative photos that are admired by an international fan base.

"They kind of came to me organically. I would find something his size, or people would send in things,” Hunt said. "Marty superfan Amy Wagner would find wonderful things for him, like his motorcycle, shopping cart and other things. Marty would help sometimes.”

And let me tell you, you will let out your fair share of OMGs when you see these witty and fabulous photos. 

rat by soup cans
© Sarah Hunt 
A creative shot taken strictly for fun posed Marty Mouse with soup cans.

So how has this phenomenon surrounding a single rat helped homeless pet rats living in shelters, and how did it start? Fans began to follow Marty on his website and his many other social accounts. They shared his glorious photos and these spread like wildfire. Seeing the great opportunity, Marty (with the help of his mom), set up a formal "internashunal bizness” as he likes to call it, and began selling an array of goods through his website, as well as places such as Etsy and Zazzle.

Through his fun and entertaining images, memes and products, he sends a message that pet rats are sweet, intelligent animals who deserve to be loved. He spreads awareness about the existence of rat shelters and their need for support. 

Marty Mouse in space
© Sarah Hunt 
Another creative shot captures Marty Mouse doing "space stuff."

"He helps so many people, mostly by giving them a daily smile or laugh,” Hunt said. "I've heard from so many people that he has helped them in their darkest moments. Marty promotes fundraisers, or lends his image to things to raise money.”

And you can help Marty in his work by becoming a fan.

Along with fans, there are minions who help Marty’s efforts. Not the minions you might think, but minions of the Marty kind. They are not out to destroy the world, but to make it better for pet rats who are being cared for in shelters by selfless rescuers. To join his army of minions, shop at the U.S. Amazon site through the Marty’s Minions link. His website also lists links for Amazon UK and Amazon Canada. Hunt explains how this helps shelters.
"Everything you buy during that session of shopping at Amazon will kick back a small percent to us,” Hunt said, " and we will donate it to different rat rescues on a quarterly basis in honor of Marty.” 

Marty Mouse by pillows and mailing boxes
© Sarah Hunt 
An "array of products" like these pillows is available on the Marty Mouse website.

One of the many shelters Marty has helped is The Rat Retreat in Boise, Idaho. Shann Ng is the founder of and the Director of Marketing for The Rat Retreat. She explains how Marty has helped rats at large as well as in the shelter.

"Marty's photos have been shared across the Internet like the plague, even on Buzzfeed,” she said. "It’s constant advocation that helped. People look at rats differently after seeing those photos.” 

Every year, Idaho holds a statewide charity event online called, Idaho Gives, and Marty has helped with the fundraising for the shelter with relentless campaigning. The next Idaho Gives event is May 7, 2015.

Today you may find Marty at the Rainbow Bridge from where he continues his "bizness.” Many people mourned alongside his family when he passed away November 20, 2014 from an enlarged heart. It should be no surprise given how big his heart was. 

"Marty loves people, loves life, loves everything around him and loves his family ... his food,” Ng said. "I cried for days when he passed. It feels like he’s our rat. He belongs to everyone.” 

Marty Mouse tastes cookie
© Sarah Hunt 
A taste of Milano cookie was a rare but favorite treat of Marty's.

Marty’s legacy will happily live on. Hunt says that she is expecting to add two baby dumbo rat boys to her family soon. She would like to think that her little celebrity rat with the fawn-colored coat and endearing little black eyes will be looking down on them and guiding the new babies through their apprenticeship. 

"I hope he [Marty] and his successors continue to spread love, happiness and smiles all over the world,” she said. "We never planned on any of this; it all grew so organically and unexpectedly. People tell me Marty is a great ambassador for pet rats, to help them gain societal acceptance. I hope that can continue.” 

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Posted: February 24, 2015, 9:45 p.m. EST

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The Pet Rat Who Conquered Social Media

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Reader Comments
It was an absolute joy to "meet" Marty and an honor to be trusted to help share his story with the world!
Wolfy, hixson, TN
Posted: 4/27/2015 10:56:41 AM
What a cutie; Marty's legacy will live on in the hearts of others and their efforts to spread love and awareness.
Autum, Caldwell, ID
Posted: 3/21/2015 3:41:14 PM
He has done wonderful things to raise awareness of rats as creatures who feel and deserve humane treatment. I hope the movement started by the photos of him will continue to gain momentum.
Deborah, Newberry, FL
Posted: 3/16/2015 10:48:10 AM
loved it! As with many others, Marty has a permanent place in my heart.
Kathy, Bakersfield, CA
Posted: 2/26/2015 6:37:27 AM
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