a summary of my ethics and rat care

My rats are primarily my pets, and not all are involved in my breeding programme. I only breed with healthy well tempered rats from established lines which have no apparent serious problems. My motivation for breeding is to improve and develop varieties which are based on the american mink gene while ensuring the rats are well suited to life as pets, and maintaining and gradually improving their temperament, health, and fitness. I do not breed to satisfy demand for kittens, and therefore there is usually a period of waiting before kittens become available.

All kittens are handled daily from birth, and are well socialised. I do not condone or practise culling, and only allow my rats to go to homes where I believe they will live a full and quality life. Contact with their owners is maintained throughout the rats' lives so that I may monitor their development, gather new information about my lines, and also to offer my support and advice. I require that any rats who cannot remain in their new home for whatever reason are returned to me, or rehomed subject to my approval.

My selected buck and doe only spend one night together for mating, and thus maintain their place within their home group. I aim for my does to give birth between 6 and 10 months old, and most will only have one litter. A second would only be considered if the circumstances were right and the mating justified. Mothers give birth in a low level barred cage (a ferplast mary) furnished with plenty of nest making material, and once the kittens have opened their eyes, accessories are added so that they can climb and explore. The family will move into a larger cage (a ferplast furet plus, or half an explorer) once they are competent climbers, usually at around 3 1/2 weeks. Buck kittens are separated from mum and their sisters at 5 weeks old to prevent pregnancies, and mum is gradually removed from her daughters by increasing the length of the periods she spends with her peers so that the doe kittens are fully independent by the time they and their brothers are ready for new homes from approximately 7 weeks, having completed their kitten moult.

I feed my rats on mixes based on the shunamite diet recipe (either homemade, or bought from Rat Rations), i.e. base food of straights or rabbit food (55% by volume), with added proteins (10%), processed cereals (20%), dried veg, herbs, and seeds (15%). This is supplemented by regular helpings of fresh veg (broccoli, curly kale, dandelion leaves, etc.), and occasional fruit. Kittens are given additional high protien meals regularly to support their growth (egg, chicken, tuna, nature diet moist dog food, cooked pulses, with veg, cous cous, cooked pasta, noodles, rice, etc.).

My rats are housed in same sex groups in large cages with shredded cardboard (finacard) as a substrate, 100% paper pellets (papelit) in the toilet corners, and shredded soft paper, hay, and straw as bedding. A variety of toys and furnishings are provided in challenging layouts to keep the rats comfortable, stimulated, and fit (hammocks, pipes, shelves, ropes, igloos/huts, etc).

Some views of my rat room (taken in 2016)

SRS and Explorer cages along the left hand side

my litter/visitor zone for temporary cages as required

Duetto cages in the far right corner

my table and cupboards, with storage for food and bedding beneath

During free range time, various large scale toys are brought out as a playground (although the whole room does get explored).