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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I went to a backyard feeder breeder to buy a hairless rat. He had twenty of them. Four or five were mothers and the rest were pinkies up to rats that were three weeks old. Although I fell in love with a three week old, I didn't buy her because I told him it best that she nurses for a week longer to be weaned properly. Now a week has passed, he has not contacted me about her.

The rat's living conditions are as follows:

- habitat is a long aquarium (he didn't know ammonia builds up from rat urine)
- bedding is pine (he didn't know pine was a no-no)
- fed strictly a mixed seed diet
- water bottle literally had 1/4" water left (I told him they need more)
- no huts to hide or sleep in and no hammocks
- no enrichment such as toys to chew on

The rat breeder has furred rats too, but he didn't show me them since I was interested in hairless. I am sure they're living in identical housing. Should I report this breeder?

The problem with reporting him is he will know it is me. One of his rat's had respiratory issues and I told him she needed meds. He seemed all interested and I emailed him a long message on what she would require and told him I'd compound the meds myself - for $1. I never heard back.

These rats are living in horrible conditions. He stated he never handles them. I think they just exist as food for snakes, not for pets since my initial phone call to him was answered with, "What size do you need?".

I had a nightmare last night about the rats and that he sold the girl I wanted for snake food.

ETA: Whew! I called the breeder to ask if the girl I want is weaned. He told me he hasn't checked in a while and said he'd call me later. Really, what's the point of breeding rats for $3 each? Is there any money in this? For the twenty rats he'd receive $60. Not much of a supplemental income, is it?
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
It looks like the answer to my question is a big "No". Why I say this is so far this post has had 37 views which means maybe a few got past the first paragraph and said...nothing.

The lack of replies says it's best not to get involved for self preservation reasons. I get that...I really do and this probably explains why so many animals are suffering even though people know what is going on.
 

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You just described 90% of feeder breeders. Report him if you wish. Laws don't usually protect rodents from neglect and abuse, but maybe in Canada it's different. Either way, I doubt reporting him will do much. Even if someone does something about him, there are hundreds of other feeder breeders to take his place because snakes have to eat. And honestly... unless they're physically abusing animals or letting them suffer from injuries or extreme sickness, it could be worse.

The conditions are not ideal, but it's not terrible. You informed him of better ways to approach it, which is good! A lot of people don't know there are better ways to care for rats. Sometimes they don't care though.

I'm in a Facebook group for local rat breeders and owners and most of the breeders are feeder breeders who keep their rats on pine (though many use aspen), don't treat URIs but rather put down sick rats, give them no enrichment, and feed them sub-par food. It's what most feeder breeders do. It's sad, but what can you do? Snakes need to eat so rats need to be bred. I don't think those conditions are any worse than what cattle and other meat animals suffer.

If you do report him, please let us know how it works out.

EDIT: For feeder breeders, they don't just sell 20 rats... they sell 100's. And it's not about the money. It's about feeding their snakes as many feeder breeders main concern is breeding enough for their own snakes and then selling extra and breeding for cool things people may like, even if it doesn't result in a profit. Some people just like breeding animals. Money isn't always a priority.
 

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As FallDeere said, you could report. It may help, it may not. It may just be a warning the first time, so nothing may ever come of it. Sadly though, I wouldn't report him and still get the rat. That just seems a little rude, not to mention you'd be reporting the guy you bought an animal from. It just seems wrong. I'd say give him some pointers, see if he changes if/when you go to pick up your hairless rat. If not, maybe then report him?

Also, I really do get the whole viewer thing. Practically none of my topics ever get replied to, even if it's about something it seems like people would know about. I did actually read your post earlier, I just wasn't able to reply in the amount of time I had. ^^'
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you for the replies. It's a hard sad fact that we can't save every animal that could benefit from a better life. It's probably best I leave it alone as I didn't know this is how the majority of feeder rats live. It's heartbreaking knowing these innocent lives will never get the chance to blossom.

The breeder didn't call me back about the girl I want. Perhaps he wasn't a fan of my informative suggestions although he seemed like he was. I may or may not get the nakie girl and if I do it may be a chase. Deep down in my heart I really want her and did give her kisses 'cause it was a reflex that I could not stop.
 

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If you really want her, don't be afraid to pursue contact and say you're definitely going to purchase her. I highly doubt he'll shun a sale.
 

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As others said, sadly that is how almost all feeder breeders are.
I am in alot of breeder groups and most of the feeder rats are not or rarely handled, they are often kept in racks (stacks of small plastic tubs), alot are kept on pine (though there is debate on the safety of pine that I won't get into), they rarely are given any type of enrichment.

They are seen as a product not a pet. They are either money or food. And are treated as such.

It breaks my heart :( But it is just how it is. Sadly none of that is seen as abuse or neglect legally.

i hope u can get your girl though and give her a better life.
 

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We adopted Max at 2 weeks old from the feeder pup bin... We had to feed her KMR. It was quite a bit of work, but if we didn't adopt her on the spot she would likely have gone to a snake. Fuzzy Rat and our other snake food bin adoptees were 3 weeks old and just barely eating solid foods.

As I know that feeder rats don't get anything more than the most basic care and often get mistreated, neglected or manhandled... we try to adopt them as young as we can... Sure it would be better if they had more time with their moms, but not at the cost of indifferent humans screwing them up....

When you find a rat at a feeder breeder or in a snake food bin.. younger is better. Also if you don't grab them when you can they are often gone when you come back...

As to the financial returns of breeding rats... there aren't any. As a commercial banker by trade, I've worked out several business models... a small backyard breeder is likely to make lunch money if he doesn't value his time at all and he doesn't count the real estate taxes, rent, or heat he has to invest...

Once you ramp up the "business" you have to count time, rent, food, heat salaries, taxes, etc... and the more rats you breed the more money you lose according to the most realistic models...

Sadly, like any other get rich quick scheme, common sense and basic math aren't going to stop people from trying it...
 

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As to the financial returns of breeding rats... there aren't any. As a commercial banker by trade, I've worked out several business models... a small backyard breeder is likely to make lunch money if he doesn't value his time at all and he doesn't count the real estate taxes, rent, or heat he has to invest...
You keep saying that, yet I know a pet breeder (not even a high producing feeder breeder) who said she paid for her son's private school from her rat sales. :p Not saying that's good, but it IS possible to make money off of selling animals.

Unfortunately, she thought she could use the same successful business model she had for rats for gerbils, but the clientele of gerbils was vastly different and so she ended up giving some gerbils away for 25% the price she originally wanted and maybe even some for free. All that did happen in a place where, at the time, pet rat breeders were hard to find and she claimed to be the only one in the area (and she had some pretty flashy/attractive rats). She was the only one I could find, that's for sure (and trust me, I looked hard). She's breeding again, but local breeders are more prevalent now, so I doubt she will make the same sort of money. She certainly isn't getting any of my money again. =/
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If you really want her, don't be afraid to pursue contact and say you're definitely going to purchase her. I highly doubt he'll shun a sale.
I could have taken her at three weeks of age, but felt it was unfair to her. Looking back maybe I should have, but I wanted to give her the time she needed to naturally wean and not be forced as I have no clue to what kind of negative impact taking a rat away from his/her mom has when not weaned.
 

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Two of the factors that change the rats for profit equation is an unlimited market and higher rat prices. If you plug in $200.00 per rat and no marketing costs because you have an unlimited demand the "business" can theoretically get huge. At some point you might even be able to employ a full time staff and provide health insurance, which is now required by law.

It certainly isn't that there are no business models that work, it's just that you need to plug in numbers that very rarely exist... For example you inherited a farm and have 7 kids that work for free. My current breeder actually breeds high end snakes and for the most part, his rats provide food for his snake business... It's not that he makes money on rats, it's that they cost him less than buying them and he has a constant supply as he needs it... The fancy rats he sells are just a bonus... not a revenue stream... He can do just fine without ever selling a single rat. Oddly he loves to breed things and has real skills, from the rats we've adopted and friends have adopted, they seem to be very high quality and healthy with excellent temperaments... He enjoys improving his line, for the fun of it, even if it's sadly mostly for snake food. This is another one off business model that works, but only up to the point he doesn't overproduce rats... It works as long as he has snakes on hand to eat them....

When you consider $3.00 per rat and you consider the time invested and health insurance at around $24,000.00 per year per family and the cost of the rent or real estate you need and a reasonable salary you need to breed tens of thousands of rats to equate to a minimum wage job, which you can't do in your spare bedroom or likely on your own. And you need a huge and stable market. Again, this is not impossible, just really unlikely...

Some years ago, my co-worker was financing a radio and TV tube business... They don't even make TV tubes anymore, but this business was acquiring the tubes from other companies that were going out of business for almost nothing and selling them at a huge markup to antique TV and Radio restorers... And yes they were profitable... I was called in to go over the books... and they were frightening because some tubes for certain radios were in fact still in demand, while some were dead inventory because no one was restoring certain radios... The unwanted tubes were increasing with every acquisition while the desirable ones were dwindling as they hadn't been produced for over 30 years... Eventually this business was going to go under with a couple million dollars of inventory on hand.... inventory that no one was ever going to want... Yes if someone needed the tube, they would pay an outrageous price... but you needed to have the radio that needed the tube first, and if the radios didn't exist anymore, there was no need for the tubes. This was a case where a very profitable business model was headed for a train wreck sooner or later.

Like my radio tube example... certain rat breeders can wind up in a window of opportunity where they may suddenly find themselves with a fancy rat market that pays top dollar for the rats they breed and there may be a demand that would justify converting the spare bedroom into a small rattery... And without much overhead, the model might throw off a couple of hundred dollars a month, but as it ramps up and moves to a converted warehouse and hires staff it saturates it's market and starts to lose money hand over fist. Or if another breeder starts up and the prices come down again it starts to lose money...Or even if fads change and people want hairless rats when the breeder is breeding blues... again you get literally dead inventory... (pardon the pun)

A classic example is the food business. A friend and her husband opened a small food cart that made $35,000.00 per year... so they opened a small breakfast and lunch place... which after expenses also made about $35,000.00 per year, so they moved up to a 24 hour diner... and after paying the rent and the staff and the benefits and the food vendors also made about $35,000.00 per year... Yes the revenues increased as did the expenses, so no matter how big the business got the actual take home income didn't change. Finally her husband died of overwork and stress and she took a job in the bank I worked at... With the full benefits package, I'm thinking she was finally making over $35,000.00 per year and only working 8 hours a day to do it...

Everyone wants a profitable home business, everyone wants to make unlimited money and breeding animals often seems to fit the bill. Based on very simplistic math there's a lot of money to be made, but when you start to scale the model to achieve a decent income things go sideways or backwards really fast. The saddest part is when these enterprises crash with hundreds or even thousands of unwanted rats in "inventory".

Every once in the while I see adds for rat racks on Craig's list... and occasionally adds for $1.00 rats, with the caveat that you must buy 10. One add listed that the fellow needed to move over 100 rats by Friday or his landlord was throwing him out... and he was offering his rat racks at a bargain price too. He added that they would make great pets... This was precisely where most rat businesses flounder... I'm sure he sold a few litters of rats to someone and then started to ramp up production, then the smell started bothering his neighbors and as he had no steady market his rat population started to grow out of hand... Then he went bust. His 100 $1.00 rats are going to hurt someone else's feeder business who is in turn going to wind up with 100 unwanted rats... so he might take out another breeder in a domino effect and so on...

I can work up a business model for breeding rat that works at a certain scale, but it's based on some pretty unrealistic assumptions or very uncommon conditions. But I can likewise come up with hundreds of models that crash and burn long before they ever become profitable...

Basically most folks can earn a lot more money waitressing or pumping gas than they will ever do breeding rats.

As to the original question about reporting the breeder... I haven't commented because for the most part the authorities do nothing. All of the rats we have adopted were once potential snake food, we've given them good homes... I consider that doing our part... I know it isn't much, but we've saved the lives of some actual rats... so I consider it a win... a very minor victory, but still a few checks in the win column is better than nothing.
 

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Nothing you said even applies to the breeder I'm speaking of.

For one, she was a stay at home mom while her husband paid for the housing (she kept her rats in her home). So real estate/housing/utilities was already covered by their main income.

Secondly, you're saying $3 for a rat... She told them for $25 if they were dumbo + fancy markings. I paid $50 for a par of masked dumbos. I did get a free rat from her once after giving her an $80 cage for free.

I'm not saying she made a killing off of it, but it was supplemental income to her household that she could make without ever really leaving her home. Much like the money my mom and I make off of selling our little self-published books. We'll never live off it, but it buys an extra steak dinner a month and is just enjoyable to do.
 

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That's the kind of successful model I was hinting at... limited scale and no overhead or labor costs. Add to that a really decent market price and apparently a strong demand with no competition...

The problem is that there are lurkers on this forum looking for a way to make their fortune breeding rats. Some actually are here because they like rats, others are just looking for tips to get rich quick... and some are looking for a way to convert a hobby into a business. They have a few rats they like and suddenly they get a flashbulb moment and their hobby can become their career... I saw this a lot in the tropical fish hobby... Where someone would have a single aquarium one day and a month later they had 100 aquariums lining the walls of their basement... I had a friend that actually bought a building and installed 600 aquariums and three 2000 gallon ponds. After a couple years of 100 plus hour weeks, he collapsed of a heart attack on the floor of his "business" after blowing his life savings.

I realize that a few folks do make a few bucks breeding rats, but I always try and discourage those folks who think that a hobby can make for a great lifestyle business.. If they realize going into it that it's only going to pay for a steak dinner once a month or it's going to lose money half the time they might not start this kind of a project...

I would never discourage most people from trying a home based business... in my example of the tube business, it's a matter of dusty old tubes that really can't get hurt or feel suffering and pain when they don't get sold... But with rats... hundreds or thousand of unwanted rats die every year because some moron didn't understand that they were starting a business that had no chance of success from the start.

I used to be an auctioneer for a tropical fish club... and every once in the while someone would bring in big bags of starving and deformed fish left over from their business failure... It was hard to see, bad genetics, underfeeding, neglect and the results of a business failure spread across an auction table. Still it was hard not to feel sorry for the person who lost their shirt... and then there would be someone else making a deal to buy the whole setup to start their own home enterprise... I watched as they cycle of suffering continued. Because everyone who was buying up the 100 aquariums used in bulk was convinced that they could make the same business work.

Back yard breeding needs to be discouraged, aside from the ethical reasons... it's a recipe for disaster and the rats as well as the humans suffer because people don't understand the math going in to it.
 

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I'm all for discouraging wannabe breeders, but writing a novel about why it doesn't work financially isn't the way. People will just look at your post and glaze over, saying "huh?" The way to discourage it is to show pictures of dead pinkies from failed birthings. Stories of mothers dying during birthing. Stories of people being unable to sell the 100's of rats they produce because there isn't as much demand as they expected.

No one wants to read about the math behind it. Your long posts about that will do little to nothing to discourage the type of people you want to discourage.

By the way, lots of people sell rat racks because they are upgrading to better rat racks. It doesn't always mean they're getting out of the business. Shoot, I even know a guy who builds and sells rat racks.
 

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I read the OP yesterday and waited til today to respond trying to decide whether to relate my experience or not. Well, here goes.

When this happened I lived in Las Vegas. One day while I was at work, someone in the rat forum my sister and I were members of saw a Craigslist ad for rats for sale. One of the group called the seller and was told that he had accidentally allowed pet rats to breed and was now overloaded with "accidental" litters. My sister who wanted a cinnamon rat called the seller who assured her he had "all colors", so she wanted to go get one. When I got off work she called me to take her over to get a cinnamon rat. When we got there we found the "accidental" litters were housed in a number of breeding racks kept in a garage with no heat or cooling. The first person we spoke with was one of his children who thought we came for snake food. It was already obvious that he was a feeder breeder, not someone who accidentally wound up with extra rats. The wife then came out and we asked if they had cinnamon rats. She reached into a cage and brought out an agouti rat by the tail. I grabbed this rat which vanished into my shirt and before I had a chance to say anything, she had grabbed another agouti by the tail which my sister grabbed for and which disappeared into her shirt. I told the woman that I would be happy to pick up my own rats because I was uncomfortable seeing them handled by their tails. Then the breeder came out. My sister asked him if he had any cinnamon rats. He proceeded to check his breeder bins for one. In the process he found several pinkie and small baby rats that had died due to the heat in the garage and threw them into the trash. Though he didn't find any cinnamons, my sister fell in love with a fawn rat with a litter. The breeder said he would shift her litter to other mothers, but I said we would buy the mother, litter, and the two we had in our shirts and get out of there.

When we got home we got onto the forum and discussed the whole episode there. It was decided we should report him, mostly due to them being in a situation where the heat was killing so many rats and the situation seemed abusive. The forum was getting all sorts of offers to home the rats and even to transport them to other states to homes there. So, after we had discussed the situation with our local shelter, the rats were confiscated, the breeder was fined, and all the rats were euthanized as unadoptable. The shelter couldn't handle the numbers and didn't realize or understand that we were finding homes for many of them. All of those wonderful animals slaughtered because I reported abuse. I don't know whether I would do so again. This was my experience.
 

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Wow Raindear, that's tragic beyond words... I can't even process that properly right now...

And yes, Falldear, your approach might be better than mine... but as I mentioned I'm a commercial banker, not given to persuasive emotional arguments, I think more easily in terms of numbers, and profit and loss... I think you are right that an emotional appeal might have a more broad audience, but for my part, I'll post the financial one in hopes that some people will understand just how lousy a rat breeding business model is.

Sadly, with home fish breeders, I've tried to talk to a few to try and stop them before they wasted their life's savings... but they get this gleam in their eye, like they have found the lost Inca fortune and they really can't bring themselves to listen to anyone... They ramp up and kill thousands of fish and suddenly they realize that they are broke... Then they wake up from the dream into the nightmare... I might mention that I did also sell some fish and take my family out for a few dinners... I made some pocket money by writing and publishing articles in magazines. That by the way is a business model that works... breed some rare and esoteric fish and then publish. But it's difficult and expensive to produce the truly spectacular fish I was doing... Those were the ones the pet shops wanted and even when there was some profit to be had, they only wanted a dozen a month or so... which made for a nice dinner for the family, but not a career... In the end, selling off a few fish and publishing articles covered the cost of my hobby and paid for a few dinners, but one day my publisher asked how many hours a week I was spending on taking care of the fish, I responded that it was about 80. I hadn't thought about it before that because I really enjoyed my hobby... but then I realized just how much I had invested in terms of time and how much money I was losing if I was doing it for profit instead of fun...

Some folks need to see the pictures and some might need to see the math... Each of us have a different approach, yours may be better than mine... but we can't give up on getting the message out there.... Breeding rats is just a bad idea for so many reason.
 

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Firstly, I see very little actual math in your post. It’s more filled with strange anecdotes that have very little relevance, alongside your normal rambling about abstract numbers without any real equations non-Rat Daddy people can make sense of. If you truly have math behind your ideas, I’d love to see it lain out without all the extra fluff so that I could actually read and understand the math without your stories.

Secondly, you’re on a forum populated mainly by teenage and young adult females. Such people are mainly motivated (forgive me for stereotyping) by sad or cute images or sob stories more than numbers. Should any of them decide to consider breeding, it won’t be for money. It will be for fun and cuteness.

For the exceptions, such as the breeders who fail to read the rules and post (to which you occasionally reply with your “discouraging” numbers), they are generally feeder breeders who also don’t care about the money, but rather insuring their snakes, and perhaps other people’s, are well fed and cared for. I am on several Facebook groups where breeding is heavily discussed and I have only ever seen one person who seemed solely motivated by money.

Yes, they are out there, but they are few and far between. Again, if you posted math alone, instead of math spread between your anecdotes, I agree, posting how the math behind making a living off of breeding may work for those few who actually care about money.
 

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Firstly, I see very little actual math in your post. It’s more filled with strange anecdotes that have very little relevance, alongside your normal rambling about abstract numbers without any real equations non-Rat Daddy people can make sense of. If you truly have math behind your ideas, I’d love to see it lain out without all the extra fluff so that I could actually read and understand the math without your stories.

Secondly, you’re on a forum populated mainly by teenage and young adult females. Such people are mainly motivated (forgive me for stereotyping) by sad or cute images or sob stories more than numbers. Should any of them decide to consider breeding, it won’t be for money. It will be for fun and cuteness.

For the exceptions, such as the breeders who fail to read the rules and post (to which you occasionally reply with your “discouraging” numbers), they are generally feeder breeders who also don’t care about the money, but rather insuring their snakes, and perhaps other people’s, are well fed and cared for. I am on several Facebook groups where breeding is heavily discussed and I have only ever seen one person who seemed solely motivated by money.

Yes, they are out there, but they are few and far between. Again, if you posted math alone, instead of math spread between your anecdotes, I agree, posting how the math behind making a living off of breeding may work for those few who actually care about money.

I think this has clogged up the OP's thread long enough with the debate between the 2 of you. First of all he's entitled to post whatever he wants, fluff or no fluff, and I actually tend to find his "ramblings"(which is EXTREMELY RUDE of you to say by the way) very helpful at times and interesting to read/informative. If you don't agree or approve that's perfectly within your rights BUT you don't need to state it on a public forum for no good reason.

As for what this thread was intended for : Did you ever hear back from the breeder and get your rat?
 

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Shutting this thread down as it has ventured into territory against forum rules. I encourage everyone that participated to refresh themselves with said rules. The discussion of intentional breeding is prohibited.

Additionally, backseat moderation is against the rules. If you see an issue with a thread, please utilize the report function instead of taking it upon yourself to reprimand other forum goers.

http://www.ratforum.com/showthread....-Rules-READ-BEFORE-POSTING-Updated-12-04-2012
 
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