If you have fallen in love with rats then the idea of breeding them may be very tempting. The idea of helping your sweet female rattie raise beautiful little pinkie babies may be very tempting. After all, you will get to cuddle with the babies when they are tiny and raise them to love you as much as their mother. However, there are a lot of reasons that you shouldn't breed.
While it is easy to fall in love with rats if you have an open mind and you get to meet one in the right circumstance, there are still a lot of people out there that don't like rats. Rats still have a pretty bad reputation. Because of this it can be hard to find responsible and loving families for your rats. You don't want to find yourself in the position of trying to re-home a number of rats no one really wants.
- Your female rat could have a couple of babies or lots of babies. Some rats have been known to have as many as 15 babies! Finding homes for your fifteen rats can be hard.
- You are also on a time limit. Males and females need to be separated at a young age (4 to 5 weeks) because they can and will mate with each other and produce even more babies.
- Many people say they want a rat, but they don't want to wait until you have everything in place, till the pregnancy occurs, till the rats are ready to go. Often they will either change their minds because they don't want to wait or they will go out and find another location to get a rat.
When it comes to producing high quality rats, genetics really do matter. You should know the family history of the male and the female before you ever put them together. Unless you got your rat from a reputable breeder (and didn't sign a contract not to breed that animal) then you have no idea if the family history of your rat is something you should be introducing to another generation. Many pet store rats have poor genetics and should never be bred by a breeder.
Many animals are killed because they are not wanted and can not be homed. Rats are among the animals that are destroyed because they are hard to home. Rescues and shelters often struggle with finding rats homes. In this right, breeding is something that shouldn't be done by very many people. Add to the fact that many rescued rats give birth while in the shelter or at the foster home and that makes even more babies in need of homes.
Lots of Space Needed.
Breeding tends to require a lot of cage space. You will need a cage to house your males and one to house your females. You should never have just one rat of either gender. At the same time your pregnant female shouldn't be kept with anyone as she nears birth because she might not live with them well and there could be fighting, a killed rat, or even killed babies. None of these scenarios is a good one. So as a minimum you should have three large cages (your babies will need lots of room to play as they grow and at least pull the males out when they are old enough to mate (as in they can not that they should).
Lots of Time Needed.
Many would be breeders (often called back yard breeders by many breeders) think that it is an easy thing to do. However, to do it right you will need to feed your rats a balanced diet that includes lots of fresh foods. This will take time. You will also need lots of time for the kittens (or pups depending on who you ask) because each little rattie will need lots of love in order to be well socialized. This means that you should have at least a couple of hours per day to spend with them!
Rat Breeding Myths.
There are many myths that are often associated with breeding rats. These myths may influence one into breeding rats, but they often lead to issues down the road.
- Breeding rats is cheap. As a whole rats aren't very expensive pets. However, when you add lots of rats that you are feeding and housing you are looking at a lot more expense. Breeding often leads to needing to take rats to the vet in which case you will also have an expensive veterinary bill.
- Breeding rats is easy. While breeding rats can be loads of fun, there are also times when it isn't easy or fun. Sometimes things go wrong and that makes it very hard. There are also times when the easy thing to do is ignore your rats for a day or two while life is hectic. In this case your ratties (kittens or pups if you will) will suffer and will be less socialized (and less likely to find homes).
- Breeding rats will make money. Many people get into rat breeding with the hopes that they will make money. However, many times breeding costs more than it makes. Even with the best of genetics you won't make than $15 to 20 (in most cases that is a high expectation). You can't breed good genetics in a way that is also ethical and make money on these sort of numbers. Usually it costs more to breed and successfully raise each one than you will ever make. You would have to make a lot of animals and find a lot of homes in order to make money from it. At this point quality, time, effort, and the temperament of your animals is also likely to go down.
As tempting as many loving rats are, it is not a good idea to breed them. You shouldn't breed them for money, because you love rats, and you shouldn't think it is easy. While the breeding itself can be easy, if you are wanting to make money off of, to find good homes (rather than snakes) for your rats, and if you want what is best for animals everywhere then you will choose to adopt a pet in need of a home rather than to breed more rats.