This article is from the WSSF 2004 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
Ronda Coia, Orlando, FL
QI am writing to ask your advice. I have a 1-year-old male rat
Buddy. He’s been a solo rat,
and this Christmas I’m getting a big cage for him and am considering
getting him a friend. Should I, will they fight? Will he still be
as affectionate to me? I play with him and take him out often (a lot).
How old should the new guy be if you think I should get one.
AIt you play with your guy often, you don’t need a new buddy for him at this stage. He will already be set in his ways. Some rats will accept new friends and others won’t, so it will be a gamble. You also have to worry about bringing in a rat that may be carrying a disease that will make your old rat sick or even die. If you do decide to try it, buy your new guy from a reputable breeder. Usually, if it does not work out between your old rat and the new one, the breeder will take back the rat you bought. Also, get a rat that is young, less than 10 weeks. Then you won’t have to worry too much about dominance issues. Also, make sure you introduce them in neutral territory—someplace where your original rat does not normally go when you let him out to play—a bathtub works well. You will have to try this out over several days to make sure it will work out. You may want to use some vanilla extract or other strong safe smelling substance on their nose and genital area if you feel there may be a problem in introducing them. In the meantime, keep their cages near each other so they can get used to each other’s scent. When you feel they are getting along, thoroughly wash out the cage that they will be living in and everything in it (house, food bowl, water bottle, toys, etc.) before putting them together. Helen Pembrook
Elie Bernhardt, e-mail
QWhen should I try to incorporate my pregnant mouse and her resulting litter to my other two mice? I do not want to stress the mom out any more than I need to. How do I make the transition easier for mother and the little ones with my first mice? I would like to keep the squabbles to a minimum.
AWait until the kits are 5 weeks before introducing other animals to each other. You will also need to separate the males and females at this time. Keep a close eye on the males as they may begin to fight. All you can do for the males once they start fighting is to put them in their own individual cages or they will continue to beat each other up and may result in deaths to some of them. Males never get over fighting once they start so they are better off living alone. Give them a nice roomy cage with lots to keep them busy. Once in a while you might have some that get along, but once they are used for breeding, that is the end of that.
For your females, introduce everyone in a new cage so that the environment is neutral. Wash all the toys, houses, dishes, wheels, water bottles, etc., before placing in the new cage so they don’t have anyone’s scent on them. The females may squabble a bit at first to initially establish pecking order. As long as there are no injuries in the squabbling, they should be okay. If you have a particular mouse that is really beating up the others, you will need to take that one out and try introducing her a few hours later. You may try putting something like vanilla extract (the stuff you use in baking) on the top of their noses so everyone smells the same. After that, everything usually calms down and things go along fine. You can also give a handful of oats or other tasty treat to keep them busy during the initial introduction. Helen Pembrook & Karen Robbins
Jennifer Long-Hermesch, e-mail
QI am hoping that you may be able to give me some information on breeders of pet/fancy mice in the Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, or Nebraska areas. I am interested in starting my own mousery and would like to contact any breeders in my area to purchase my foundation stock. I am also wishing to do this to obtain a better idea as to the cost of my breeding stock and how much to ask for the resulting offspring. If you can point me in the right direction on this I would very much appreciate it.
AWe do not know of any mouse breeders in those areas. Punch up IRMD or The International Rat and Mouse Directory on your search engine and try there. They have listings all over the US. If you can’t find any mouse breeders, contact some of the rat breeders close by and they may know someone. You can also try the various hobby rat lists out there or try contacting some of the other clubs in the country. AFRMA has various clubs listed on our links page. The rat breeders on the hobby lists may know of mouse breeders that are not on the list, and breeders of both tend to network extensively. You may also be able to work out a buy/pickup through one of the breeders close to you if they go to any of the shows in the midwest or on the east coast.
For breeding stock we charge/pay anywhere from $5 (average quality) to $15–25 (high show quality) each. Pets can go for $2–3 each (though AFRMA has a $5 minimum to-be-charged price at shows). The problem with mice is that supply often quickly exceeds demand, so unless you are selling to other breeders, you have to adjust your prices accordingly. Helen Pembrook