This article is from the WSSF 2004 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
Breeding & Stuff
By Karen Robbins
Q We have two male rats and I would like to breed them as to have some of their offspring when they pass. I only have my rats for personal company, we do not show, and will only want to breed them once. I don’t know how I might get in contact with someone looking for a casual breeding situation. I also have two female mice and would also like to breed one of them but I don’t know what to do with the offspring because all the pet shops that I have talked to will only deal with “wholesale breeders.” Any suggestions?
A Most breeders would never consider a “casual breeding” as there are quarantine and health issues to consider when bringing in outside animals. If you were to use someone’s females, you are not guaranteed on the outcome of the offspring either in temperament or health. Most breeders would not use an outside male for their females unless that particular male had qualities that their females were lacking. Most breedings are done within family lines so you know the outcome of the progeny in physical features, health, and temperament.
Serious thought needs to go into each breeding as to the qualities and flaws of each parent before making the breeding. Are both parents healthy, do they both possess good temperaments, would they improve each others faults, are you making this breeding to improve the rat overall or are you just wanting nice pets. If you just want nice pets, there are lots of rats out there in rescue shelters that are in need of loving pet homes.
Before anyone attempts to breed, whether it is for personal use, for show purposes, or to sell the offspring to others as pets, you need to decide ahead of time what you are going to do with the babies. Rats and mice have lots of babies and the decision needs to be made ahead of time whether you will keep all of the offspring, have pet homes lined up ahead of time, sell to other breeders, or try to sell to the local pet shops. Most pet shops now will only take in animals from wholesale breeders as you found out. Many people are disappointed when they have a litter of babies thinking they will just take them to the local pet shop when they can’t find homes for all of them, only to find out the pet shops refuse their animals.
Were you prepared to keep all of the offspring? Or were you expecting the owner of the females to have to find homes for them. Were you going to raise the babies in your environment or was the owner of the females going to raise them for you? If the owner of the females raises the babies, were you prepared to pay for the expenses incurred to care for them until they find new homes no matter how long that would take—whether it is weaning at 5–6 weeks or longer?
In regards to your mice, the same thought needs to go into breeding them as with the rats. Female mice should be bred around 3 months for the first time, and will stop breeding around 8–10 months. Also, male mice will fight at some point, so you would not be able to keep all the young males together in a cage like you could the rats, so they would need to be separated into individual cages. Are you prepared to have many cages of mice? Male mice have a natural musky odor and unless you had a protected climate-controlled outdoor shed or building, your house would always smell “mousey.”