Getting Started in the Excitement of Lab Rat Zapping
Does this sound like you? You got the lab ray forever ago, zapped your pets until they turned into your dream colors, and now you’re pondering over what to do with your lab ray as it gathers a thick layer of dust. Or perhaps you frequent the pound and get upset looking at all the poor unwanted neopets. Or maybe one of your own neopets is shaking in the corner of your neohome, terrified to go to sleep, knowing tomorrow will only mean another trip to the mad scientist.
If you’ve ever wanted to dabble in the world of zapping lab rats but didn’t know where to begin, then keep on reading! I’ve written this introductory article using my own personal experience and the experiences of other zappers. In order to keep it relatively short, I’m going to assume you already know about the lab ray. If not, ask for a guide on the help board and a friendly Neopian should inform you of the ray’s awesomeness. Hopefully by the end of this article you will be ready to make that step towards helping the homeless pets of Neopia. I believe almost anyone can enjoy lab rat zapping, so long as they are patient and well informed.
Terms used in this guide
Lab rat – a neopet you adopt (or create) with the intention of zapping it until it obtains a non-basic color change, a limited edition (or restricted) species change, or both, and then giving it away
Lab ray – the Secret Laboratory Ray you obtain by completing the Secret Laboratory Map
Permanent pet (permie) – a neopet you plan on keeping, whether you zap it or not
Pound surfing (and pound surfers) – the act of searching the pound for non-basic colored pets, limited edition species, or high stat pets, and posting the findings on a common topic on the Neopian pound board; pound surfers are those who frequent this practice
Well-named pets – pets with pronounceable names, usually consisting of only letters
Not-so-well-named pets – pets with names composed of numbers, underscores, or random letters
Before you put together the Secret Laboratory Map
If you haven’t already put the map pieces together, take a minute to consider on which account you want your lab ray. A lot of users tend to put it on their main account, as it is the account they use most. There’s nothing wrong with this, but take into consideration how many permanent pets you have and where you want them to reside. There’s no sense in putting your lab ray on your main account if that is where you want all four of your permanent pets to reside... after you zap them, you won’t have room for a lab rat! You could always transfer a permie to your side after you’re finished zapping them, but if you really want all of your permies to live on the same account, you’re better off putting your lab ray on a side account.
After you put together the Lab Map
Congratulations, you have access to the lab ray! As exciting as this momentous occasion is, I’m going to have to warn you about the lab ray consequences and downsides. First, the lab ray is highly unpredictable and completely random. This can mean constant gender changes, constant species changes, constant loss of stats, or constant results of nothing at all. It can get very frustrating! It doesn’t, however, mean your lab ray is broken or that you’ll never get a color change—you will, you just need to have the patience to keep zapping.
If you plan on zapping your permanent pets before finding a lab rat to experiment with, keep the ray’s unpredictability in mind. If your dream pet is a faerie Kougra, you might be better off just buying the paint brush. Yes, I realize you probably spent over a million neopoints on the lab ray and are not keen on spending millions more on paint brushes, but if you are going to be upset if your female Kougra turns into a male Grundo, zapping definitely isn’t the best route to go.
If you’re open-minded about the outcome of zapping your permies, then go ahead and zap! I think it’s best to zap your permies first and then concentrate on lab rats, but if you find you aren’t getting desirable results right away and want to change it up a bit, you can always adopt a lab rat and alternate between zapping him or her and your permanent.
Finding a lab rat
So you’re ready to help the homeless pets of Neopia! It feels good, doesn’t it? Yes, yes, it does. And although you can always create new neopets to use as lab rats (many users did this during the year the pound was under construction), it doesn’t really help the already overpopulated pound. Surely you can find a cute neopet already in the pound that tugs on your heart strings. Start looking by using the View more neopets tool in the pound. If you are unable to find a pet you’re interested in, try lurking on one of the ever-present pound surfing boards on the pound neoboard. Often times users post well-named basic pets that can make great lab rats, along with the typical “Oh em geeeee I just missed a robot Gnorbu!!!” posting (just kidding, pound surfers! I like you guys, really!) Which type of pet you choose is up to you, but here are some suggestions to help you from feeling overwhelmed.
- Well-named pets: It’s a bit sad, but it’s fairly obvious that well-named pets find homes quicker than not-so-well-named pets. While it may not seem like it at first, there are actually quite a few well-named pets residing in the pound at any given time. It just takes a bit of searching or the help of the pound surfers.
- Not-so-well-named pets: Some users will only use unfortunately-named pets as lab rats. The theory behind this is that without a non-basic color, many poorly-named pets will likely never find a home. These pets are fairly easy to find when searching the pound.
- Low-stat pets: Pets that are only level 1 are cheaper than pets of higher levels. Since you don’t gain anything by zapping lab rats (monetarily speaking at least), you can save neopoints by adopting pets in the 85-90NP range instead of ones that cost 200-500NP to adopt. This isn’t difficult to do, as most homeless pets are level 1.
- Favorite species: There are some users that just flat out refuse to house a Grundo on their account, temporarily or not. There’s no need to go outside your comfort zone if you don’t want to. You can choose to adopt only pets you like, but this might limit you in choice of names.
Using one, two, or even three of these categories might help you in determining which type of lab rat you want to adopt. There’s no need in being too picky, though—that pretty yellow Usul might end up as a mutant Grundo by the time you’re finished zapping!
Zapping your lab rat
“The lab ray is fired at [lab rat]... ... and nothing happens!” Yeah, your first zap probably won’t be too exciting, although there is always someone whose very first zap was something incredible, like a robot Ixi. Celebrate your good zaps, don’t fret the bad zaps, and just keep zapping! It might take days, weeks, or even months before you get a nice color change. You don’t have to adopt out your lab rat if you don’t like the color change he received, even if it’s not a basic color. Zap until you feel pleased with the changes, or until you get a color you think someone would be happy to adopt. Don’t freak out if your gold Bruce is zapped and turns into... a gold Bruce. Hey, it happens sometimes. Just give your lab ray a virtual kick and hope things start working better. Which reminds me... *kicks lab ray on main account*
Finding a new home for your newly zapped pet
Your former lab rat is now above lab rat status and is ready to find a new home! This may well be the most exciting part of the lab rat zapping process for some users, but I always find this part the most tedious. Everyone seems to have their own opinion on users adopting zapped pets, which is fine, but don’t let the opinions of others keep you from finding a new owner for your pet the way you want to do so. I’ll provide some suggestions on finding your pet a new home, but if you find you have a preferred way, go ahead and use it. (Just remember to always follow the rules! This means not asking for neopoints or items in exchange of your lab rat—you are not allowed to profit by giving up a lab rat!)
- Adoption agencies: Love them or hate them, they can be helpful in advertising your pet. Ask for some adoption agencies on the help board or pound board (there are a few good directories out there that list tons of agencies) and choose one that suits you. Typically you would transfer your pet to the new owner—note that this will cost you 1000NP.
- Advertise yourself: Get on the pound board and start advertising what you have available! You can ask users to neomail you with a few sentences on why they would make a good owner for your pet. Give everyone a fair chance and choose the user you think would make the best owner. Again, this generally involves using the transfer option.
- Make a pounding board: Again, head on over to the pound board and create a topic that says you will be pounding your pet at a specified time. This is typically done by users who want to generate some interest over the pet and who want everyone to have a fair shot at adopting their pet without having to deal with neomails or the 1000NP transfer fee.
- Just pound and let it be: A personal favorite of mine. Basically, just head on over to the pound and abandon your pet without telling anyone. Use the search tool (on any Neopets page) to see if and when your pet is adopted. This might seem cruel, but in my experience, no matter how convincing a user is in saying they will be the best owner for your pet, they might end up abandoning the pet a week or month later. I have found that simply abandoning my lab rats eventually places them on an account of someone who really likes them and keeps them.
Whichever method you chose, don’t let other users make you feel as though it’s cruel. You are helping a previously average pet get the chance to find a forever home. It doesn’t always work, but at least you’re giving it a shot.
Saying goodbye to your lab rat
I think it’s important to reiterate what I stated in the previous section about adopting users not turning out to be as great as they seemed. It doesn’t matter what abandoning method you choose, you always run the risk of giving your pet to a not-so-honest user, even if it’s someone you trust! That doesn’t necessarily make them bad users, though, so don’t neomail them irate things about being cruel and horrible. Perhaps they came across someone who could give your pet a better home than they could. Perhaps they don’t spend as much time on Neopets as they used to. You never really know their side of the story, but it’s best to just keep your distance.
That being said, I think it’s wise to advise you to not get too attached to your lab rats. I’m not saying you shouldn’t care about them at all, but just be aware that not everyone takes Neopets as seriously as you do, and some people stop visiting the site. It’s always sad to see a former lab rat on an account that hasn’t been active in a long time, but it happens and there’s not much you can do about it.
I suggest keeping a list of the pets you have successfully labbed and adopted out because, despite their outcome, you did succeed in finding them a new home. Silently check on them every now and then to see how they are doing and be proud that you were able to help them out.
Starting the cycle over again
Adopting out a lab rat leaves an empty space on your account, which means it’s time to adopt a new lab rat! Hopefully you will be excited to start the process again. Here are some ideas to keep your labbing experience fun and exciting:
- Find a neofriend or guild that also likes zapping lab rats and keep each other updated on your lab rat’s status.
- Keep a labbing log on a pet page that shows the lab ray results you get each day, whether they are good or boring.
- Try to accomplish some sort of goal: successfully lab a pet of each basic species, successfully lab a pet into a limited edition species, or try to zap a certain type of pet (like an MSP Poogle or a Robot Kougra).
- Take the time you have with your lab rat to improve his or her health by feeding it and bringing it to the Healing Springs until it is disease free.
- Have a friendly (no prize) labbing competition with some friends. Have everyone adopt a lab rat on the same day and see who gets a non-basic color change first.
- Buy another lab map and assemble it on a side account for double the labbing fun! Some users even have lab rays on all five of their accounts!
Everyone has their own opinion on users adopting well-colored pets from the pound without any ‘effort’ in earning the neopoints to paint them that color themselves. There’s no point in trying to convince others that what you’re doing is the best thing, nor is there any point in having other users make you feel that you are only enabling users too lazy to ‘earn’ pets themselves. Everyone plays Neopets for their own reasons, and as long as you are following the rules, keep playing for the reasons you play.
Happy Lab Ratting!