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Old 10-03-10, 03:00 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Question Rats

Hey Snake forum!

I'm new, I am posting hoping you will consider what I have to say :]

The reason for my post is hopefully promote better care for feeder rats and thus creating the best quality meals for your reptiles. No, I am not some PETA freak... I just really like rats and I do breed them but for pet purposes. Also I don't own a snake but I know if I did I would want to feed it the best quality healthy rats available. I also want to say that I know there are some good feeder breeders out there that give their feeders a good quality of life, so please no one take offense if that is you. Its also not going to be too detailed on my end, if you want me to expand on anything just let me know!

Well firstly the first thing I notice is a lot of breeders keep their rats on pine bedding. I know its a cheap bedding, but its toxic to them and make the rats sick. (It causes liver and kidney damage, so by the time you see symptoms the rats very sick on the inside) It can also irritate their airways. When the rats are sick they loose weight and condition. Their coats get thin and scraggly and they are producing poor quality offspring. A good cheap bedding could be shredded newspaper or aspen. Birthing moms can be offered thick kitchen paper towels so they can make a nest.

Also mother rats should not be bred back to back, they should be given at least a 2 week break between litters so they can regain some of the condition they loose. Back to back litters puts too much strain on mom and she can't produce good quality milk - which effects the babies growth and development. It also will effect your breeding program in the long run because you will be making worse quality babies with each passing generation. Pregnant mommas can be given approx 1/6th of a hard boiled egg as a great supplement for that little extra protien and fat they need.

Next is genetics.. you do need some sort of structure in your breeding program to make sure you are producing healthy rats. If you are inbreeding (breeding related rats) for several generations, any bad traits within the parents are strengthened in their offspring. To prevent this becoming an issue you must out cross every 2-3 generations or so. Which is just breeding the rat to a completely unrelated rat.

Next is over crowding their cages. If you overcrowd you will ultimately stress out the moms. Which can cause them to eat their litter, or kill some of the babies. It can also cause pregnant rats to reabsorb a litter or cause birth complications. It may also cause adults to fight each other more resulting in injury or death. Also albino rats generally have the largest number of babies born each litter,... (This is a pure white rat with red or pink eyes. If the rat has a dirty looking smudge on their nose, feet or bum they are not albino but himalayan) That may be an option for people looking to downsize to make the work load easier but keep producing the same amount of babies/profit

Then their diet. Those seed mixes from the pet store don't even provide the basics. The best thing to do would be to go to a bulk grocery store and buy some grains like oats, wheat, rye, barley etc... and then just mix these into your seed mixes. It'll offer the rats the carbs they need and won't work out to be any more expensive. It will make 1 bag of seed mix last a lot longer. To keep them the healthiest, offer them veggies everyday or as often as you can.

Then its HOW you kill them. Gasing them in a CO2 chamber is actually not painless, they experience dizziness, vertigo, nausea and their airways will burn before they die. Putting them in the freezer is no good either - they don't just fall asleep.. they experience extreme hypothermia, frost bite and its a very traumatic death for them. So the best way seems to be the good old fashioned break their necks. I won't go into detail, but thats the best way I found after much research. Just please make sure you do it right.

And please always feed pre killed for both the rat and the snakes fault. (even if you buy live and break the neck right before you feed - so the food is still warm and life like for the snake) I'm sure as many of you know... the rat may also injure the snake as they have a very strong bite for their size.

I think thats every point I wanted to bring up, please no one take offense and be open minded. Every thing's open for discussion. I actually belong to a rat forum and people are always saying they should come on here and say something stupid like ''whats the best way to kill this snake to feed my rat'' as they think thats getting the point across. But I thought, they are people too.. why not just talk to them? So here I am.. please be nice!
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Old 10-03-10, 05:09 AM   #2 (permalink)
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Re: Rats

Hello and Welcome.
I for one would like to thank you. I just learn quite a bit about rats i didn't know and in my book learning always good. I would hope anyone who breed their own rats wouldn't keep them on pine as it is toxic to snake also.
I had thought about breeding my own, but my wife said no way in hell.
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Old 10-03-10, 08:27 AM   #3 (permalink)
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Re: Rats

I for one treat all my rats and mice as pets right up till the final moment.

Just because they are food does not mean they should not live good otherwise.

I use Corn flakes, shredded wheat and other crackers / cereal (unsweetened of course) from the dollar store mixed with "mouse food" & Bird seed.
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Old 10-03-10, 10:59 AM   #4 (permalink)
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Re: Rats

whats the best way to break its neck if you dont mind me asking? grabs it head and twist? i always bonked them on the head back when all i could get was live rats, but what was not always the best idea. i do plan to breed a few rats just to decrease the cost of food if not absorb it completely. thx for the tips tho i will do just that when i get a place of my own, I like rats and all animals and feel the same way as most peole would,i see no reason why they should not live happy healthy live just like any other pet i have. atm breeding its no way in hell as well for me lol
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Old 10-03-10, 12:26 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Re: Rats

Although demanding, My rodent colonies are very educational.

You can figure out a lot of simple genetics fast with rodents, I can predict what color pattern a big percentage of each litter will be.

I have one set that peoduce marble blonds most of the time, some tht make "cows" etc..







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Old 10-03-10, 01:32 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Re: Rats

lol those mice in the last pic look sweet. i want to get a hairless rat, if i see one for sale im going to buy it right away and keep it as a pet and breed it for snake food, win win
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Old 10-03-10, 03:06 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Re: Rats

Belive it or not, this guy was born to two normal parents with hair in a litter where all siblings have hair.

I have no clue where the trait came from, both parents are now dead.......

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Old 10-03-10, 03:12 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Re: Rats

lol ya buddy that guy looks sweet lol i was reading things like that as well, both folks are haired but 1 baby come out hairless, or even as far as the owner never getting another hairless rat out of the pairing agian. i also was reading that they tend to not be very good breeders, unless you keep them in a real warm room because they use more nutrients to stay healthy due to needing to work at keep warmer than haired rats which make for unhealthy mothers.... makes sence tho.
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Old 10-03-10, 03:18 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Re: Rats

I had to move him, the other males were picking on him.
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Old 10-03-10, 04:26 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Re: Rats

hmm i wonder if they could sence he was defected, like natural sence of survival, weak die and the strong survive. or if they picked on him becuase he simply looked different.
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Old 10-03-10, 04:34 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Re: Rats

I'd have a hard time raising rats for food. We had 3 females for awhile, and they were just awesome! We oftentimes would be watching a movie in the bedroom and let them run around on the bed. If we were eating popcorn or chips or something they would come and try to steal from us.
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Old 10-03-10, 05:07 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Re: Rats

i bred rats a years ago, i had one female that was a real sweet heart, she would crawl into my pockets and sleep for hours, and like you said, run aound and steel food from me. she never deficated on me ever. i miss her for sure.
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Old 10-03-10, 05:15 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Re: Rats

Good advice fro breeding and keeping rats. They are extremely easy to get breeding and a lot cheaper than buying especially when you have to feed more than 10 and even more so when you get to 20.
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Old 10-04-10, 02:23 AM   #14 (permalink)
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Re: Rats

First of, thank you everyone for the wonderful replies!

I can explain how that hairless rat in the picture you posted, with two furred parents was created. The rat is not a true genetic hairless it is in fact a double rex which can be bred through selective breeding to be mostly hairless - but they often still retain some facial hair and eyelashes which is vital as hairless are prone to eye issues (as they don't have eyelashes). Both parents had to of been rex (wavy/curly coat + whiskers), as its a dominant gene and if the rat carries it, it displays it. If you breed a rex rat to a standard coated rat, most of the litter will be rex (so its very easy to recreate). If you breed a rex to a rex... you will get a double rex which will have patchy hair. Through selective breeding you can then make them mostly hairless as seen in the picture. I hope thats easy to understand, I'm some what of a genetics freak when it comes to rats lol.

The true hairless often have issues producing milk, and the litter can die within the first few weeks because of it. As a pet breeder I am very careful which hairless lines I choose to breed because of this issue. They also have a naturally higher metabolism and eat about twice as much food, they don't need heat so much.. just provide a good little shelter for them like a cardboard box packed with kitchen paper towel or a hanging hammock.

Now if you have a double rex on the other hand, they don't have the higher metabolism so don't eat more food. They also don't need a heat source, I have found they do fine in a regular house temperature esp if housed with regular furred rats and again provided with nesting material. It is important any rats with any sort of baldness are not housed in chilly rooms or in a draft as they are more prone to illness.

I also want to give breeders a heads up on mega colon, which is created from ''high white'' markings. First let me explain mega colon, its basically where their bowels don't work right and they can't poop or if they can its very runny and strained. They generally don't grow the same rate as the other unaffected siblings and can look thin but bloated at the same time. 99% its not treatable and the rats suffer and die. The rare 1% it is, they need a special diet and care etc. And when you continue to breed from rats that produce offspring with megacolon, with each generation there will slowly be more and more in each litter that will get it and die. The affected babies will die before weaning and the effects are VERY visual from a young age. It is also possible the rats get late onset mega colon which is later in life anytime after 10 months of age. Its basically a rat with white where there shouldn't be. For example, facial blazes (stripes on the face) dots on the face etc. And any rat with odd color eyes I can guarantee you is capable of producing this deadly disease ... your best bet for healthiest babies is to stick to solid colored babies, or hooded markings. White bellies and feet are okay, but you don't want the white to be extending too far up the sides of the rat. I know people who produce for pet stores often aim for the high white look as it is pretty... but its also deadly!

As for the best way to break the neck... I believe you grab the body in one hand and the head in the other then quickly bring the neck backwards and up at the same time - so as to dislocate and break it for a quick painless death. You might want to research the technique a bit online. I'm not 100% sure as I've never had to do that myself.
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Old 10-04-10, 11:41 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Re: Rats

Excellent advice! While I am a feeder breeder, I try to care for my breeders as well as I can, right up to and including their death. Thank you for coming on here and sharing your knowledge with us! I already knew everything you mentioned, and haven't used pine shavings for a long time. I don't use a seed mix as the rats will simply pick out their favourite foods and leave the rest, so I use a block type organic grain food which they do really well on.
Welcome and thanks! What types of rats do you breed?
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