A COUPLE have raised concerns about a well-known Blackburn pet store after they bought a rat 'riddled' with mites which died two days later.

Animal lovers Clare and Chris Kinder went to Aquamania to pick up food for a bird they had rescued when they saw the white rat who also appeared to being having difficulty breathing.

They were were so appalled by her condition that they returned later in the day to buy her. The couple shared videos of her on Facebook.

Mrs Kinder said they got the rat, who they named Stixx, treated for mites on Saturday but on a return trip to the vet on Monday to address the respiratory problems she died.

The incident prompted Trading Standards bosses to visit the Higher Audley Street store, however they found no particular concerns with the animals.

Aquamania bosses said it was a one-off incident, the rat was being treated and should not have been sold. They also questioned whether the rat had died.

Mrs Kinder, who is in her thirties, said: "I spotted the rat. She was breathing quite heavily. She had her back to us and I said to Chris 'something is not right'.

"The assistant got her out and I could see there was something wrong.

"He told me he did not know what sex she was which was not very good for someone working in a pet shop.

"She was struggling to breath and I think he could see that.

"For him to sell us an animal in that state is wrong. She should have been treated a long time ago and should not have been on sale.

"We bought her to rescue her. We were not looking to buy a rat.

"She tugged on my heartstrings.

"She was just too poorly and it proved too much for her.

"The best I can say of the situation is that at least she didn't die alone in that foot square bare tank."

Mrs Kinder, who owns Hex Piercing Ltd in Blackburn, and her husband have 21 animals including birds, cats, dogs and chickens, and nurse animals, particularly birds back to health.

Ashley Cook, owner of Aquamania, said there had been a 'training issue'.

He said: "It was being treated and it was not for sale but they pressured our sales assistant into letting it go.

"We are doing the best we can here and this is someone having a dig at us.

"I have been doing this job for 23 years and I do my best to look after them. I do not do it for the money.

"This was a one-off incident that should not have happened and will not happen again.

"The rat should not have left the building and I do not believe it has died."

A spokesman for Blackburn with Darwen Trading Standards said: "The inspectors found no particular concern with the animals.

"They were all clean and watered and there was no sign of mites.

"We will continue to monitor conditions."