This article is from the WSSF 2010 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
Q I am trying to raise rats and mice to sell. Do you know who I could sell them to?
Ethics for those who choose to breed food animals:
by Nichole Royer
Views expressed are of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of AFRMA.
A The first question is why are you breeding? Do you want the babies to just go to pet homes? Are you breeding to try and make money? Do you want to breed animals to show and sell? The answer depends on why you want to breed.
If you are breeding just to make pets, we advise you talk to your friends who love rats so the word will get out and then when these people know you are planning to breed, you will already have people on a waiting list. We strongly advise you DO NOT breed until you have buyers ready to pick up the rats at the time they are 6 weeks old. If you breed and have several litters before you have buyers, in desperation, people usually give the babies to pet stores (if they will take them as most pet stores will only buy from pre-established brokers) and these precious babies are sold for snake food. Also, while the babies are waiting to be dinner for reptiles, they are given minimal care, meaning oftentimes not enough food and lack of water. They are often dropped into cages that are already full of other rats and mice that are sick or the sexes are mixed so there is fighting among the different inhabitants.
Are you near any clubs that are looking for good breeders? If you are breeding to show and sell, a club would be a good place to potentially sell your stock. Also, a club may have resources where you could advertise your stock either on their web site or through a newsletter or at their events.
Breeding to make money is not something that happens in the rat and mouse fancy unless you are a commercial breeder. Everyone who breeds for show or pet, does it for the enjoyment of the animals. Those who breed for show are not only focusing on making healthy, well-tempered animals, but also making a structurally sound animal that is also nicely colored.
I’m assuming you want to breed for pets and not directly for reptile food? Breeders of reptile food will either sell them to other herpetologists or to pet shops that sell to reptile owners. In either case, all animals need to be humanely euthanized before they are fed to any reptile whether you do it yourself or make sure the buyer will do it. An animal should never be sold for resale as a live food animal. [See Ethics box]
Also, you need to make certain you are using good breeding stock no matter what you are breeding for so that you will have strong, healthy babies. I would hope that you bought your breeding stock from breeders with excellent reputations and not just rats and mice from a pet store, so that you don’t have any serious health or temperament issues in their history. In mice and rats, you want healthy parents so that when you do sell your rats and mice to someone, they have a good experience with their animals and are not spending large sums of money immediately at a vet. If word gets out that you breed and sell sickly animals, you won’t have repeat customers. I don’t mean to discourage you from breeding, I just want you to know breeding is a serious activity. You are creating life and you need to be responsible to care for them if you are not able to find good homes for them. If you do breed, you must be able to separate the boys from the girls so that you do not have several more accidental breedings to contend with. Dale Taylor Burkhart, a.k.a. Hattie McRattie
Q How often do rats from the pet trade end up crossing into the reptile food trade? And vice versa—that food rats end up as pets?
A Most all pet breeders will find homes privately for their rats so they never end up in pet shops. Some commercial breeders will keep and breed “fancy colored” rats to sell in pet shops as pets but those are not guaranteed to not be sold as feeders. On the other hand many people have “rescued” (bought) feeder rats to become their pets. Karen Robbins