American Fancy Rat & Mouse Association

This article is from the WSSF 2013 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.

Shows & More

Registering Pedigrees

By Karen Robbins

Christine Pecor, MT, e-mail
Q I purchased some rats from a breeder here in Montana. I purchased these two rats with pedigree papers. The breeder told me that she was going to dismiss the pedigree. What does this mean and is it even possible? She claims she is a member of your organization and is working on bringing rat and mouse shows into Montana and would like to hold one in conjunction with our local rabbit club.

Being a dog and rabbit person where we raise and show both and both have extensive pedigrees, there is no way to dismiss a pedigree. Parentage is parentage, you can’t change that. That is where I became confused. Perhaps maybe she meant she had the pedigree registered with your organization? All we got for a pedigree was a computer print out, nothing that officially said registered with AFRMA or such. I even doubt at this stage if the pedigree she provided was true or not, because as she told me she was going to dismiss the pedigree, she concluded that I was going to have to make up my own.

A A pedigree is just a listing of who the parents, grandparents, etc., were and their colors/type. Pedigrees don’t mean an animal is show or breeding quality or any kind of guarantee that the background is really for that rat (or mouse). Also, I’ve found that on some pedigrees the color/variety listed is incorrect for particular animals—these from people who don’t show or get critiques on their animals so the listing is from guessing or what another pet breeder told them it was. Unlike rabbits or dogs, rats don’t come in breeds where you would only see that one type of animal on the pedigree. Also, there are very few show breeders of rats, not like you would find with rabbits or dogs, so very few rats get shown/critiqued so you wouldn’t know if quality animals have been bred and are in the background of the animals you purchase. No matter how long the pedigree is, it just means someone kept records of their breedings, not that the quality of the stock you are purchasing is worthy to be bred. Since you only get a few in a litter that are even breeding quality, the rest being pet-only due to flaws in conformation, color, markings, poor physical feature, etc., you wouldn’t want to purchase pet-only stock to breed from even though they have a pedigree.

There is more that goes into breeding than just the pedigree. There is the overall conformation of the rat, the temperament, health, size/weight, etc. While there are some things that can be corrected down the line, if any of these are not right, then it doesn’t matter how fancy or long a pedigree is, as a general rule the rat in question should not be bred, no matter if the rat was purchased from a pet shop or breeder—with a pet shop rat you don’t know the colors in the background, the health or temperament history of the line, size of litters, etc., where a pedigreed rat will give you some clue when you breed the rat what the outcome of the litter as far as colors/types should be. Though with most pet breeders, they have as many colors/types in the background as possible so they can get a wide variety of babies which makes them easier to sell. Most show breeders will only have a couple colors/types throughout the whole pedigree so there are less surprises, or guesses, on a particular color that shows up whether it is a combination of others or just a too light/dark version of a color. Any pedigree should only be used as a guide as to what is potentially in the background for color/physical features, remembering that some may be mislabeled as to their color/type. While pedigrees are useful, it is not the only thing to determine if a rat should be bred.

I’m not sure what she means by dismissing the pedigree. You will have to ask her what she means by that.

We don’t have pedigrees registered with AFRMA. The only registry we do is a fun Pet Registry. A properly registered animal requires a trained official/judge to critique the animal (like in rabbits) so you know it passes the minimum requirements and is breeding quality. It would be impossible to travel all over the country to register rats and right now all AFRMA shows are held in southern California. There are only 3 other showing clubs for rats (independent groups with their own standards, rules, requirements for showing, etc.: one in the Pacific Northwest, RatsPacNW; one in Michigan, Rat Fanciers of the Lakes (RFL)—only has two shows a year [club now defunct, 5-5-16]; and a new one in Illinois, American Rat Club—only has one show a year in Michigan) [5-5-16: status of club unknown since they used to be affiliated with the RFL] [Ed. Note: Club dissolved as of October 8, 2016].

We have no members in Montana at the moment and no one that we know of trying to start a club there. Though getting in with the rabbit clubs to get started is a great way to share space and let others know about rats and showing them (my background is showing rabbits and our first shows were held in conjunction with rabbit clubs’ shows). Perhaps you could contact the RatsPacNW group to see if they know of the breeder you ask about or any shows getting started in Montana. If you were interested in getting shows for rats there, we have some articles online to help you get started:

Since it sounds like the pedigrees you got may not in fact be correct, then making your own from this point forward would be the way to go. *

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Updated September 6, 2020