American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2009 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Breeding & Stuff

Russian Blue Bleeding Problem

Michele Christians, Jackalhead Rattery, Cape Town, South Africa, e-mail
Q I’m hoping you can help me. I’m trying to get in touch with the breeder that supplied the Russian Blue rats we imported to South Africa in 2006. Eighteen rats were brought in and went to another breeder in South Africa. These were the first pedigree rats SA ever saw and brought in some colours we never had before. All of SA’s Russian Blue rats can be traced back to the two rats we brought in.

From early on, we (myself and the other breeders) noticed that the Russian Blue rats from these two imports had a problem with excessive bleeding, especially when giving birth or being operated on (such as neutering). I’m now trying to find out if this was ever a problem in the line before.

We have introduced some local lines and other pedigree lines to try to open up and ‘spread out’ the lines a bit, but this hasn’t proven useful.

Any light that anyone can shed on this, or if someone would be able to put me in touch with the breeder, would be greatly appreciated. Unfortunately, our gene pools in SA for some of the colours are quite small and without being able to tackle the problem and trying to resolve it, we may have to put a stop to breeding Russian Blue.

Update: The search is on-going to find info on our Russian Blue problem. I read the AFRMA Hemophilia article you gave me the link to Our RB’s don’t bleed so badly from minor injuries, such as cuts, but it’s more during ops. I have a theory that it may be high-blood pressure. I looked at our typical Russian temperaments that we see here. They are very excitable and mischievous. The excitability got me thinking. A trip to the vet would be stressful and this usually gets them worked up. If they were hereditarily pre-disposed to high-blood pressure, the stress may trigger a BP spike and this can cause the blood to flow easier and faster. I’ve got a vet who’s done many rattie ops looking into it now. If I dig up anything else, I’ll let you know.

Answer from Karen Robbins
A Last I was told, that breeder was no longer breeding—don’t know if this is still the case. She used to be a member of AFRMA back in 1992. I would think the person that arranged the shipment would be able to help you since she got the rats from the breeders.

As far as excessive bleeding in Russian Blue rats—I have never heard of that happening in that color, only in the regular Blues. It’s a little disturbing to hear you are having this problem with this color. With the regular Blues, there are lines that don’t have the problem but unfortunately, there are too many breeders continuing to breed the flawed lines. Discontinuing a Blue line with bleeding problems is the only solution we know of.

Answer from Carmen Jane Booth, D.V.M., Ph.D.
A It is probably the same mutation as the regular Blue rats. I have a colony of rats with a bleeding defect here. Genetic testing would have to be done to see if it is the same defect. The only place that can really do a good job on rat blood for coagulation defects is at Cornell. The issue is that with these rats, you cannot take blood and expect them to survive. You have to euthanize by CO2, then with the sodium citrate in the syringe, take the blood with only one clean stick into the caudal vena cava, and then spin the blood down and freeze the plasma within 30 min to -80F. *

See the Update to the testing on

Updated February 17, 2014