If you are thinking about
getting a rat for the first time, or looking to get more rats,
please read, "Why
not use pet shops?"
If you know you
would like to find a good breeder, I hope this article will help.
I cannot over-emphasize the importance of thoroughly researching
breeders! There are SO many elements involved with breeding good
rats, than just putting a pair together to raise a litter. Sadly,
there are numerous unscrupulous individuals posing as good breeders
or trying to sell you a "rare" color or type of rat
and charging outrageous prices! The internet makes it much easier
for these unethical types to fool a prospective buyer. You and
your family could regret not choosing the right breeder!
Once you have spent time to research fancy rats to be certain
they are the pets for you and your family, then the search begins.
There are many factors to consider, and you need to arm yourself
with knowledge. That means be prepared to ask the breeder questions.
The breeder shouldn't mind taking the time to answer your questions.
After all, they should want to have their prospective adopters
as knowledgeable as possible.
Here is a list of questions you might consider asking every breeder
you are considering adopting or purchasing from. Some breeders
websites already answer some or all of these questions.
1. What are your breeding goals? The breeder should be able to
tell you what their "mission" is with their rattery.
They should have over-all goals for their rattery and specific
goals for each line they work with.
2. What are your specialties?
Each rattery should have specific lines and specialties. That
means they have particular colors/varieties that they work with.
If they just put 2 rats together to produce babies, and there
is no real reason behind it, steer away!
3. Do you have any pet store
or rescue rats in your pedigrees? They shouldn't! It is a very
rare occasion that a breeder might do this, but they should have
an excellent reason for doing so! There are enough responsible
breeders out there that have long lineages on their rats that
a good breeder can turn to, even if it means traveling some distance
or paying for shipping (only a few breeders ship though). Each
breeder should have a lot of information they can share with another
breeder about the line's health and temperament, so any new addition
to a rattery has a known history. Pet store and rescues' health
history is an unknown. That said, the exception would be if they
took back the rats they have bred and placed.
4. What was the goal for the
litter I am interested in? Everyone can say, "I really liked
their temperaments," or, "they have really pretty colors,"
or "I wanted to have another rat just like their mom/dad."
A good breeder will tell you something more specific about their
goal for this breeding: improving type, like the body, head, ears,
color, or tail length; or improvement of temperament.
5. How is the health in the
line, especially the parents and grandparents? The answer should
be easy if the breeder has been working with a line for many generations.
The longer they have worked with a line, the more knowledge they
have of any health issues in the line. They might still have the
grandparents and possibly even the great grandparents if the line
tends to live longer than the average. If the line is new they
might not have the grandparents - if still alive. If this is the
case, then they should give the other breeder credit if they state
the line is really healthy.
6. Do you plan on keeping any from this litter?
Breeders typically only breed to keep their lines going
they breed for themselves, for the love of rats and to improve
them - not to make money off of litters. I consider breeders that
don't keep any from a litter suspect, unless there is a good reason
9. If you dont have any litters or pups available, who
do you recommend? Typically a responsible breeder will only recommend
another good breeder or a rescue.
A few other comments about responsible
1. The breeder you are "interviewing" should be honest
with the answers they give. Just because they don't know everything
doesn't necessarily mean they are a bad or irresponsible breeder.
If they are honest and don't have an answer don't think the worst
of them. It might be they never had that experience, or maybe
they are working with a new line, in which case, they have reason
to not know certain information. For instance they can't say for
sure the average longevity of the line. All they could say is
what the other breeder told them to expect. If they haven't been
working with a line very long then they should not take credit
for the other breeder's work.
2. At the end of the day, follow your intuition. If something
doesn't sound right, or too good to be true, then that might be
3.While at the breeder's home keep an ear out for
chronic wheezing and sneezing coming from one or many rats. If
you do hear
this ask the breeder about it. How old are the rats? If they are
2+ - 3+ years old then you don't need to be as concerned, unless
it is several rats doing this. Like elderly humans and other elderly
animals the immune system weakens and illnesses often occur.
4. They should be willing to take the rats they
have bred back if the owners can no longer keep them. At the very
least, they should help place them. They should inform you of
this before you take your rats home.
5. The breeder should have asked information from
you if you are already prepared to get rats and how you will care
for your rats before they let them leave their premises. These
pups are their babies and they won't them to go to the homes!
Finally, the breeder should be available to you
for the life of your rats, and that means 2+ years. They should
take time to answer your questions and concerns. Please keep in
mind, if this is a responsible breeder, you are going to be entering
into a type of partnership or friendship with the breeder for
the life of your rats. * So, with this cooperation in mind, you
should keep the breeder up-to-date of any health
issues your rats develop, so they can adjust their breeding program
for the line. *