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Camarattery - Colorado Rat Breeder

Website Updated 7.21.2017

Think You Want To Breed?

Written by Amy, Camarattery ©
2006

I am posting this because several people have shown an interest as of lately in becoming a breeder and they have asked what it takes to do so. And while I am not one to encourage fly by night breeding, I do encourage well thought out plans, I even mentor those with a good heart and ethics, although I may be hard on them at first until I see where their heart really is. I wanted to post this so that all of you can seriously consider what it takes to be a breeder, should you decide to do so. Am I discouraging breeding? No, no I like having other breeders to work with, I am just letting you think. I have done my best to provide all of you with a comfortable community to thrive in weather you are a breeder or general rat enthusiast. So please don't think that I am discouraging those of you who wish to breed someday.  

This is just food for thought. This is what every person should think about if you are thinking about breeding: 

1) Study up on genetics 1st. It takes about 2 years to get to know it. 

2) Decide what your ethics are. 

3) Decide what club you will join that most closely represents your ethics and breed standards. 

4) Decide what your going to breed and why. 

5) Develop a close relationship with a local breeder who is in good standing in your rat community. Have them mentor you. Even long before you breed. This will also get your foot in the door in your local community and get you well known before you need to adopt out babies. You will also earn respect from other breeders and future potential adopters if you do this. If you pop up on a group with a brand spanking new web site wanting to adopt out the litter you already had born and look as though you only care about re-homing babies, you will not get that respect. 

6) Never compete with the local rat breeders. It's not a competition, you'll never get help that way. You need to work WITH them, not against them. That is what the local community is there for. They will help those who are in the right heart condition. 

7) Decide if you can afford it. If you are a small rattery these are things to consider:

 a) Caging & accessories. Each cage can be a minimum of $130. You will need several but at least four. One for females, one for males and two for babies (male and female at age 5 weeks) although you may be able to get two $50 cages for the 5 week old babies to save money. You will also need several nursery cages/tanks for pregnant and nursing moms. 10 gallon tanks and a screen top with a water bottle and bowl will run you $45 each set up. You may need 3-4 of those. Each cage needs a wood toy which will cost $7, and those may need to be replaced every two weeks. Plus other assorted fun toys you may want. Durable food dishes are around $10 each, 16oz water bottles are $8 each for a good one. 

b)Food, proper food. Not cheep superstore food. All the supplements and fresh foods as well. If you are feeding Harlan blocks and sending some home with adopters to use because that is what your babies are eating, you maybe spending $200 a month on that alone. Vegetables, pasta, treats and grains can be up to $30 a week. 

c)Vet bills. Can you afford a $100 X-ray on your pregnant female should her pregnancy not go well? That may happen with no time to think. Then she may need a C-section. In a breeding colony adults can be more territorial and fights may and will happen, can you afford to get stitches or getting an abscesses fixed. Believe me this will happen! And not just once. 

d) And very expensive shipping costs for breeding stock is something to think about. Many times you cannot get stock from your area, or you want something different so you need to ship up to once a year to keep your lines healthy and unrelated to a certain level. This is something you will keep doing throughout your breeding courier. Just the airplane ticket can be $140 plus the cost of the animals and you will need to get 6 animals to make the shipment worth while. Each animal can cost from $20 - $30 each from a reputable breeder. Airline costs go up every year. 

e) Can you afford to clean your cage every other day and replace bedding that often? Bedding is the least expensive thing, but plan on spending $20 - $25 a month on it if you are using aspen which moms need to have their babies on. If you can get paper bedding from a feed store for the adults it's only $8 a bail. But those costs increase yearly. 

8) Decide if your pocket book can handle being upside down on rattery costs on a constant basis. You need to have a job outside the rattery that can support it. Your rats will not make enough money to pay for themselves every month out of the year. Sometimes they might, but don't count on it. This is not a business, it's a hobby and should be looked at as something fun for you to do, not for a money making venture. These are rodents, not $10,000 horses. That is the basic truth. There is no getting around that. 

9) Breeding should only be considered once you can comfortably handle all of these situations. You need to have the right state of mind. Think about this: 

a) Can I last as a breeder? Can I keep these animals and care for them properly long term? Because if I don't last, what will happen to the poor animals involved who were entrusted to me by veteran breeders who were there to give you a good start? What will your adopters who counted on you and needed and respected you do when you are gone? You need to think hard about this one before you consider becoming a breeder. You quitting has a profound affect on not just yourself. 

b) Lets hope we don't have to think about this one: If I can't last, what can I do to ensure all the breeders who adopted rats to me are happy with where the animals went? Those breeders are highly concerned about where each and every rat born in their rattery goes, so if you can't keep them you will need to clear that with them first. An last but not least, I could put this first, but after considering all of the above I will list this thought for you now: 

10) First and foremost before any planning starts, you cannot throw a rattery together all the sudden out of no where in one day or one week or one month after you thought about wanting to breed, even if you already have several well tempered rats to breed! You cannot be a good breeder if you get pet shop stock and or un-pedigreed rats to begin a healthy rattery, for example: 

a) Just because your pet rats are sweet and healthy, does that mean they are a good foundation to your future breeding stock? No! Not at all. Even if your pets are the ones that made you consider breeding in the first place. 

b) Can you say without a doubt that all of the 100 rats in your pets ancestry were bred for health, temperament and type? No! Do you know for sure that 99% of the rats in your pets line did not have cancer or bad immune systems or tumors? No! Those things are all very genetic. Can you guarantee that just because your pair are healthy that they are not the only healthy rats in their family? Because you can have 1 healthy rat out of the 100 in it's family tree. You better believe you can. Pet shop rats are not bred for health. 

c) Can you be fairly confident that in 2 years your babies will be cancer or tumor free? This is after you are 4 generations deep into breeding that family of all unknown ancestry. How will the children who adopted from you be affected? 

d) On the contrast, can you predict the health outcomes in pedigreed lines to a reasonable degree, can you be sure 99% of their line was healthy. Yes! Because these things are genetic and they were bred for health, temperament and type and their health was documented by the breeders to which you can contact and confirm that with. 

And on a side note: 

11) If once you are a well seasoned breeder, can you breed an un-pedigreed rat into a pedigreed line? Well that is a conscience matter. But something only a veteran breeder should attempt. This is only done if this veteran breeder knows there is something about that rat that can be of benefit to their existing colony, and knowing that the babies from said rat will be of 50% known ancestry and health is then bred into said rats new line. This is usually a rat that veteran breeder does know something about, it's not a rat that is just any pretty, well behaved healthy rat. But the veteran breeder knows to adopt this new line out with a clause on the contract or at least lets the adopter know of the potential unknowns. This is just here to help you decide what you can handle and what your situation allows. Please make your own decision weather to breed or not based on these facts. I am only posting these things because I deal with them on a daily basis. This can give you incite on what goes on from the breeders perspective. These are things you cannot possibly think of until you are head first into it up to your eyebrows and turning back is more difficult than previously thought. Breeding can be a very rewarding venture and hobby. And it is in the right situation. But if you hadn't thought it out well enough it can make you miserable if you cannot handle the things it takes to make it in this community. So in conclusion, just think about it. Think hard. Yes they are just rodents, but there is a lot more involved than you can possibly imagine.