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Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Thoughts About Rat Breeding

By Shellyane Bryan
A rat owner from England shares tales of living with her first rat, Queen Dumbo Duncanson-Bryan, and a rat named Mouse.

dumbo rat
Photo Courtesy Shellyane Bryan
The Dumbo variety of rats have much wider heads with large ears.

I’ve been thinking about becoming a rat breeder in the distant future — maybe in my retirement. My mum used to breed hamsters when she was younger and always tells me how much fun it was.

Rat breeding sounds fascinating. The mutations that occur can range from an alteration of the physical skeletal structure of a rat, to a simple coloration change to a complete alteration of temperament. For instance, the Dumbo variety of rats have much wider heads with large ears that sit on the sides of their head, whereas fancy rats tend to have much longer heads with higher, more pointed ears.

There can also be differences between the types of ears Dumbos get — from very large, flat ears to tuliplike, creased ears. Of course, there is a wide variety of fur colors that can be achieved by breeding, such as black Berkshires (like my Dumbo), Burmese, British Blue dumbos and so on. Without rat breeders, we probably wouldn’t have gorgeous breeds like Siamese rats. I would love to breed these darling creatures.

I understand it takes a lot of time, money and a lot of commitment to start breeding rats. It also takes a lot of space, and no doubt disappointments and heartache might arise. But I presume the enjoyment and satisfaction of breeding successfully outweighs the cons.

I will also need to learn a lot more about male rat behavior. All of the rats I have had so far have been female. I do, however, have a friend who has two males and their behavior is vastly different from females. They tend to be nippier — not aggressively, but in a play fighting sort of way. They also enjoy cuddles a lot more when they get to a certain age, but the females are always quite sprightly and rarely tend to sit still. I’ve also heard they can be more difficult to tame, but I have always found that if any small animal is handled a lot from a young age, it rarely develops behavior problems later in life. Personally, I have never owned a vicious or aggressive pet in my life!

I wish I could breed Dumbo with a Siamese Dumbo male, just to see the results — possibly the cutest, dopiest rat ever known to humankind!

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