This article is from the WSSF 2014 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
Breeding & Stuff
By Karen Robbins
Emily Grammer, Rat Cave Rattery, Long Beach, CA, Facebook
QHelp please!!! I don’t know how it’s happening, but I’m gonna have to go with mom—babies are losing limbs in my current litter. They were born late last night and it happened sometime last night and nothing new this morning. This is her first successful litter. She miscarried a litter about a month and a half ago. There are 4 babies total. One is missing a full front leg, the other just a few toes off her back foot.
AMy experience with eaten limbs is from a mom with her first litter when she is delivering the babies (she gets overzealous when cleaning them and legs and tails get eaten), not later. If this is happening days after the kids were born, then there may be something wrong with mom for her to do that or something wrong with the baby (mom usually puts it out of the nest or may kill it if it is a baby that has something wrong with it).
If mom is in with another female, sometimes there can be a tug-of-war over who gets the baby in their nest and it can be hurt/killed in the process (mom rats should always be housed individually when they have a litter).
With eaten tail tips, they do fine later in life. However, you have to consider the quality of life of the babies with missing legs/toes. With a missing front leg it won’t be able to hold food or groom itself like it should. The one with the back toes eaten off will not be able to groom (get in its ear to clean it) or scratch like normal. Since it has a stump, that may get damaged/scratched/cut on the cage wire when trying to use it to get around. In dogs they usually don’t leave a partial leg because of these issues so will amputate the whole thing. Also, with a missing leg or toes, they might have problems walking/climbing or using a wheel.