I have been around for quite a while now but at one point I was a new breeders to this internet orientated Rat World. I make a couple of mistakes, probably came on a bit strong when talking to many breeders - but at the end of the day my intention was always good.
I have personally witnessed many breeders come and go - for a number of different reasons. Rat World it has to be said is very unforgiving and quite elitist.
I personally pitty any breeder (new or old) that builds a web site and advertises their rattery on the web. Rat World is incredibly intimidating and their are frequent witch hunts - a lot of which are justified, if carried out in the wrong manner.
Therefore this is my advise to any new breeder - be humble, ask for advise; if possible find a reputable breeder who is willing to take you under their wing - or help you get started. Let them see your rats and where they are kept; it helps if someone (preferably a 'name' in Rat World) is prepared to vouch for you.
To start off with don't aim too high - my breeding project was always aimed high and although I have achieved what I set out to do in my breeding project it must be said that it was made more difficult by the opinions of the consolidated breeders of the time; who all thought that my breeding plan was impossible. Put it this way - I wouldn't put myself through something simillar again without seriously thinking about it, and if you intend this to be a casual hobby I would definitely advise that you think again!!!
I have been asked to explain what exactly the term 'Rainbow Bridge' means. This is a term that is often thrown about in the ratty world. Although I have never actually used the term myself and haven't asked anyone I, assume that the way that Rainbow Bridge is used by the ratty people refers to the Rainbow Bridge of Old Norse legend i.e. the Warriors road to the afterlife. I hope that this clears things up.
I have now met a Burmese rat. This rat came from Scotland to help collect a few cages and to let me see exactly what a Burmese rat is! Firstly, the Burmese rat is not like a Burmese cat - that's not the idea. The variety needed a name and because it looks slightly siamese-ish that's what they called it. However, I am jumping the gun a little - what does it look like? The Burmese rat is a black eyed toffee coloured rat with darker 'points'. Although it is a very new variety at the moment I think it will make a great new addition to the fancy, especially for those who breed himalayan and siamese. One thing is that the 'first brood' of the burmese rat (the rat I met came with Brenda Dunn from the Scottish Rat Club, who basically invented the variety) have a fantastic temperament - the doe who we met was incredibly laid back, especially considering she was in a strange room filled with strange rats that she had never met before.
I was woken early one morning by the ringing of the telephone. The man on the other end sounded distressed, and as I took a while to collect my thoughts and wondered what could be wrong, he informed me that he was in fact a photgrapher, and he wanted to take a picture of a "fierce, wild-looking sewer rat". Apparently the taxidermed ones he had tried didn't quite have a ferocious enough look about them - the term he used was "cuddly hamsters".
At first I wasn't sure - I told him that our rats didn't look in any way fierce and that I would try to think of someone who may have a fierce looking rat. I soon realised that maybe I did have a rat that could look fierce, as Bart finds out by venturing too close to Brian's cage. I rang the photographer back and he came down to look at the rats. Although he liked Brian he also saw Blackster, who he decided was to be his starring rat. Bear in mind that Blackster is of the overwieght, lazy, sleepy, non-confrontational type.
The photographer had quite a specific image in his mind - he showed us a picture that he thought was the scariest looking rat he could imagine - the rat was stood on its hind legs with a tail curled next to it (obviously superimposed) with its wet fur dripping onto the floor. The immediate reaction was more "aahhhh, he's really wet". Anyway, in the end we did go with a few rats to a studio and made them perfom for various different rewards, and in about an hour and a half and ten rolls of film later, Philippa, myself, a couple of largely apathetic rats departed the studio 150 pounds better off! So if anyone wants pictures of our rats just e-mail - please . Just another 66 shoots and I can buy the new Mini that I'm after!
Dumbos - Not really a new debate - but a hot one.
Dumbos exist due to a recessive gene that produces a rat with a low-set ear. This is the first time that the shape of the rat has been altered purposely through breeding on such a mass scale in the UK, unlike the manx rats that has very little following here.
There have been several correlations with dog breeds here, and I think that this is unfair. Dogs are a different story altogether that include under-education amongst breeders and breeding for specific work related roles.
I think that as long as breeders are responsible then it is likely that this type of rat can only add to the fancy - and as to the idea that they shouldn't be outcrossed so their mutant genes don't pollute the gene pool, it's only a recessive gene! At the end of the day all breeders would expect a 4-5 generation pedigree for a rat they intended to breed from. The average rat breeder isn't going to be subversive enough to 'accidentally forget' to tell you that the rat is a carrier.
It is often said that dumbos have flatter heads than top-eared rats. This may be true but it is not true with any of my dumbos or the dumbos that I have got from Lucie Mann, as the picture of Wilson below shows. I think therefore, that this shows it is all in the breeding.
Feel free to tell me what you think about my points of view, please don't be afraid, you might be able to help me understand where previously I didn't.
Since I wrote this the plight of dumbos has greatly decreased most people now accept that dumbo is just a recessive that generally causes no harm.
Downunder - The downunder rat is a new variety developed in Australia, from where it has spread.
The downunder rat (or DU rat not to get confused with Du for dumbo?!) is a marked rat with ventral markings. From what I have gathered the ventral stripe is independent from the hooding gene. The intial DU rat was a marked hairless that just popped up in a litter, bred by a breeder called Cindy Cairns. Yvette Hemberg then got involved. She bred rats from this line and in that line so-called 'double-hoodeds' were born.
Du's have now been imported into the UK and being worked on by British breeders. They may prove to bring the marked rat back from the fringes as a rat that produces too much unshowable rats to a rat that everyone will have. Although let's try and keep them out of pet shops before their reputation is truly tarnished.
I now have a down under rat of my own - she is called Holly and is a mink. I may breed from her in the future. The Down Unders in Britain have a slight problem at the moment in that they have a tendancy to throw up litters that contain the odd rat that have odd eyes - obviously this is a new variety and therefore needs working on.
If you want to here a better version of events then go the Carawatha Rattery
Just thought that I would put my word in about culling in relation to the rat world etc. We have to take an objective approach to it.
The question is both a philosophical and moral one. Animals do have rights thus far I would agree, but I do not agree that animals do or should have the same rights as a human.
Although I do not cull animals and could argue reasons for not culling, I do not believe that the world would be a better place if it was illegal to cull animals or likewise if people forgot their role as the guardians of the world (guarding against ourselves I may add!).
I will not preach - a balance has to be reached and you must decide on which side you stand - as far as fancy rat breeding goes, I fear that the argument "Where would medicine be without culling of animals, their death for medical and scientific advances" is completely irrelevant.
In response to the article by Anne Storey in Pro.Rat.a - although I agree with a lot of it, new varieties can be established without culling, it may take that bit longer but I truely believe that they can be.