TO CULL OR NOT TO CULL
This will be a very long post, but it is worth reading! Especially if you are a breeder!
It's come to my attention that pet people are hearing about some of the extreme methods on how rats are being raised or bred, that include culling, temperament testing, and what those ratteries believe in are the correct and "scientific" way to do things.
And I want to clear a few things up.
Our rattery only culls for severe aggression and health issues. Severe aggression, to us, is when a rat attacks both humans and other rats. Also, we DO NOT do in home culling. We take our rats to the vet to be sedated and put to sleep. Per the guidelines of the AVMA.
Please be wary of those who use inhumane methods of culling. A CO2 chamber is humane. Cervical dislocation of any rat above 200 grams is inhumane and CRUEL. It is also recommend to sedate any rats you do CD.
All health issues are treated by a vet. We do not cull a rat if it sneezes, or has any illness that is capable of being treated with medicine. Culling is for end of life when the rat is suffering. (We also do not breed animals that get sick).
We do not cull any healthy animals. We pet home them. Culling healthy offspring mean losing history of your line.
You do not get to see what age they lived to, if they got tumors, or any important information that could be vital to your program.
We do not cull because of numbers. We only breed what is needed for the goals of our rattery. Each rat bred and born here is important. We work only with what we are passionate about, keeping numbers low so we get to know each and every one of our rats on a personal level. These guys are loving pets, not objects or a science experiment.
2. Temperament testing
Scruffing seems to be going around as the number one thing to see if a rat is friendly. A rat tucking its feet when scruffed means absolutely nothing. We have rats here that tuck, and rats that don't. All have wonderful temperaments. There is no correlation between scruffing and temperament.
Another thing I see is people saying their babies suddenly started getting skittish or squeaking when messed with. Rats, like every other living being on this planet, goes through phases. Learning self preservation, seeing that there are new things in the world that could be scary, learning how to cope with stress is something that kids do, dogs do, cats do, etc... People and animals usually go through these phases when young as they are learning about life and their environment.
3. Epigenetics; There's epigenetics and much, much more.
I see a lot of breeders proudly state that they breed for genetic temperament, do not touch their animals, and then do not understand why they keep producing skittish, aggressive, undesirable animals.
A lot more goes into the temperament of an animal then what they are born with. You nurture nature. It is not one or the other.
"Epigenetic inheritance is an unconventional finding. It goes against the idea that inheritance happens only through the DNA code that passes from parent to offspring. It means that a parent's experiences, in the form of epigenetic tags, can be passed down to future generations."
How you treat your breeding animals, how they live and experience life will also be passed down to the offspring. Scruffing, not handling, and generally not showing your animals how to be a loving pet means that the offspring will also not show these traits. This is why breeders get stuck on a hamster wheel of producing rats, culling them all, and cannot understand why their animals are sickly, aggressive and skittish.
I see so many breeders who think they are doing the right thing by culling down their litters, not touching their animals and "temperament testing" get frustrated with how their animals are coming out and they stop breeding.
I also see the other side of this outcome; the upset adopters who thought they did the right thing by going to a breeder, because they wanted a well adjusted, friendly family pet, and instead get a flighty, biting animal. And neither party understands why their rats are like that.
I keep a small number of rats. They are kept in large cages and are played with. They receive veterinary care and I do not cull. The above was posted so my adopters and other breeders can see why I do what I do, and why I advocate my methods of raising rats.
I encourage everyone to read the links below. Especially!! If you are a breeder. I'd you do not then you will actually miss out on the science on why I do what I do. Yes, there is a lot. But if you are bringing lives into this world, then you can set aside a few hours to educate yourself.
I will slowly start to address other outdated information that is still being passed around as fact and "scientific" as time goes on.
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4929555/ --- excellent read. To Cull or Not to Cull.