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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Skip to the website on the bottom if you don't have time for my yammering.I was thinking of getting a pair of babies to live with my boys but am not sure where from. The ones I have are from petco and while I don't approve of mill breeders we don't have any pet stores near us that don't sell live animals so we shop at them anyway and we got my boys 70 percent of plus than the register rang it up wrong for only 48 cents so I doubt we made a big contribution to the industry. This time I'd rather not buy from a petstore though. My preference is rescue but most don't have babies available and while I might consider it I really want to try more playful babies. My boys are lazy and old and super sweet from day one so I'd like to add in some rats that might actually use the toys we bought. Plus I think introductions might go easier though it will be okay if they don't pan out. My options are currently petshop, unideal aged rescue, feeder breeder (though this one actually sounds only medium awful. He feeds Mazuri! Opinions on him? http://daytona.craigslist.org/pet/4774463912.html ) or this actual breeder. Are there any red flags with her? Anyone have experience with her?http://agothicrattery.weebly.com
 

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"What's in your rat?"

Nope. Triple nope. 1000000x nope. Just that one statement to me is absolutely appalling and I absolutely would not buy. They also say they get toys, but they're on racks... most racks are not outfitted for toys. I also try to stay away from craigslist for anything, really.

The breeder you listed seems wonderful. Very open, the price is right, and they have a youtube channel and lots of pictures of their rats on their website. Please consider going to the rattery and not that other person.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I just found that person interesting compared to other feeder breeders that they would feed what is considered a pretty good rat food and I agree racks are awful but it probably is no worse than pet store rats. I don't plan to buy from there I am mostly just intrigued. And thanks for your opinion on the other breeder. There are only a couple of things that are off with her. The first being she thinks fluoride in water kills rats and that we should only use filtered water but most filters don't remove fluoride and in small amounts it is perfectly safe and I think that's something she should know about by now. Also I didn't see a pedigree online which is listed as a red flag somewhere in the forum but she does have health records.
 

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There is a heavy opinion that fluoride is bad for rats. I have met a few very ratty-educated people who are of the same opinion, and there is little actual research on the topic that I've been able to find, at least. Whether it is perfectly safe or not is completely up to your own opinions and, really, even if it's not all the other chemicals in water probably should be filtered out. There is nothing wrong with filtering water for rats and, in some areas, it may be healthy depending on what else is in the water.

As for the pedigree thing, it can be really, really hard to post all of the pedigrees for every rat in your rattery online. If you contact her she probably has them on-site or stored in her computer, but to me a pedigree not being listed on the breeder's website isn't automatically a red flag (rather, if they do not have ANY pedigree would be).
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Ok no offense if you do filtered I know it's fine thanks for the info. I think she sounds great so far too I just wanted more educated peoples opinions.
 

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I gotta say the feeder guy looks better then most feeder people I've seen. The post is very professional and the set up is relativly clean. Feeders in our area are usually shown piled high in glass tanks, which are murky from grime, and just list a quick price for sizes. Racks are horrible but again, looks better then some I've seen. I love feeder babies, but I've never gotten a breeder rat so I can't compare. I'd recomend trying to meet the breeders rats, to me a good breeder of any animal will jump at introducing you to their adults. Then you can see the personality of their lines as well. Some breed more hyper playful rats while others breed calmer lap rats. Depending on what you want in a rat will change how good a fit she is for you.
 

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The Gothic Rattery looks pretty good, i wouldnt feed the oat mix they are selling myself (oats are pretty high in phospherous so not great for oldies) as it doesnt look massively balanced but that might be the way they've written it. The ethics look sound though and they come across well, I cant look at the rattery page though, its not loading for me.

I would say though that even a rattery that looks wonderful on its website can be less than perfect in reality (and vice versa). The best bet is to have an email exchange with the breeder and get a feel for what they are like.

As for the feeder breeder, it does look like he feeds an ok diet (though i wouldnt feed it myself) but then if your going to feed rats to another animal it makes sense to give them good nutrition as the snakes will get better nutrition from it. I very much doubt his rats are handled or kept in nice cages and he cant be breeding for healthy rats with good temprement whilst breeding for feeders so you would be better off with the breeder.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you! I think I like the breeder so far. I stayed up late last night learning about rat genetics and what possible colors and such could be in her next two litters :)
 

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Bulk bred rats can be fine, but rats bred in a way that means they are regularly handled will tend to make better pets.
 

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I just took a look at one of agothicrattery's past litters and I'm about 80% sure she's breeding high whites... One looked like a blazed berkshire, but the sibling was lightning blazed with white flanks, these kinds of litters are usually high white...

(You can't always tell a high white in a photo, but a litter of them tends to be noticeable...)

I personally love high whites, and they are usually safe to own once they get past about 6 weeks old... but I'm thinking there's a good reason why this rattery doesn't want their rats bred forward....

Not a knock, just a heads up... and yes, I would most likely adopt another high white, even though it would be hard for me to support a breeder who breeds them.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Are you saying high whites are unethical to breed because of the high risk of megacolon?She has a litter coming up bred from two pearl rats. Are there any risks with those? What about husky/ roan? And if she is breeding unhealthy rats and rescues don't have babies available where is the best place to get my rats from? There aren't other breeders close that I am aware of. I don't want to support the breeding of sickly babies megacolon sounds awful. I wonder is she discontinues lines with it and is trying to breed it out. I have more research to do now. It's all very complicated to find a good breeder for such an easy to find animal. Thanks for replying!
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
AndrogynousNoodle just messaged me this
AndrogynousNoodle said:
Aria, the operator of Agothic Rattery, is a very responsible and well meaning person.I have known her for close to (maybe even over) two years now.I've had the privilege of working with some of her rats, as well as fostering rescues and transporting up and down the coast for her. She does not breed rats with illnesses, known temperament issues, or who have produced/are known to carry megacolon. Lines that produce this are discontinued and, as far as I know, this has never happened because she is neurotically careful about avoiding it. She does not breed rescues, feeders, or anything like that. Every rat she breeds is pedigreed (you can ask her for it) and she gets her rats from other ethical breeders. She achieves her markings by using recessive genes. She procured two females from me when I was still breeding whos blazes were achieved through recessive genetics as well. She has always been my first choice in rats and who I send others to when they ask. So she is definitely a good choice and, if you have any questions, feel free to ask her. She is very forthright with information about her rattery. I hope this has helped :)I had to send this message because it wouldn't let me post on the forum.Arias rats are amazing and I didn't want you to miss out because of a misunderstanding. Her rats are not high-white.
I thought I should post so if anyone else reads this wondering about agothicrattery they have her opinion.
 

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There is a supposedly very ethical breeder of high whites about two to three hours away from me.... She even guarantees all of her rats to be healthy and defect free.... Strangely high white wet nurses turned up in my local pet shop feeder bin... they were on the small side but for sure they were nursing.... One day an odd gigantic female dalmation likely well over a lb and a half turned up in the jumbo bin... (a very peculiar high white morph) And one day two high white babies turned up in the feeder bin... one a spectacular blazed girl and her lightning blazed brother.... They were about three weeks old and they were knock outs... These were clearly not commercial feeder rats...

The cashier at the pet shop beat me to the pups, although I don't like to support high white breeders I have absolutely no reservation about rescuing high whites or any other rats from a snake food bin for $2.49... 7 months later the cashier offered me the beautiful girl as she and her kids had lost interest in her girl rats. I wasn't really into adopting a neglected adult rat, but I remembered the spectacular little pup so after work we met in the store parking lot and I brought Fuzzy Rat and my daughter along.... Fuzzy Rat had rejected just about every rat we had introduced her to and we had shown her lots of rats... This shouldn't surprise anyone as we all know rat intros don't always go smoothly. But Fuzzy Rat walked down my arm sniffed Amelia then sauntered back to my face and gave me two rat kisses. This was her way of saying yes, please and thank you... I was surprised and my daughter started jumping up and down singing "I want Amelia"... So, I'm a dad.. to a little girl and a truly amazing rat, and Amelia was still gorgeous... and we brought her home... Immersion and intros were done by the time we went to bed and the rats were best friends for life.... Amelia grew huge and lived a healthy life, but succumbed to a large mammary tumor at about two years old...

Amelia was huddled into a ball when we met her but when she stretched out she was huge and she grew to over a lb and a half and she was never fat... if I had to guess she made over 10 inches in length nearly kitten size. She had black ruby eyes and wiry rex fur. She was emotionally screwed up because she was neglected and pretty reclusive most of her life, she never could handle being on the ground outside and was prone to panic and episodes of fear, but she had a great personality and was sweet as pie... She was a very fancy and well bred rat and most likely one of two survivors of a litter that went down with megacolon... dumped into a feeder bin by an ethical breeder that didn't sell sick rats.

I can't prove that Amelia was an "ethical breeder" cull but it's a heck of coincidence... The store employees never revealed the sources of their animals. I also never found any other high white pups in the feeder bin, not that I looked too often.. so I'll believe they didn't happen often, and I'm sure the breeder was crossing the high whites to try to prevent megacolon...

But when you play with recessive genes, I suppose things go wrong every so often... And I suppose ethical means you don't sell off the survivors of a litter that blew up with megacolon with a health guaranteed policy.


This was Amelia...
Rat Vertebrate Mammal Muridae Rodent

Seriously, can you imagine anyone culling this rat if she wasn't one of two survivors of a litter that had megacolon?


If you look real closely, Amelia is hiding in the tree while Fuzzy Rat is foraging about and dragging herself towards us at the safe site. This was Fuzzy Rat's last visit to the safe site and she was pretty disabled by this point.
Tree Land lot Woody plant Property White pine


Amelia, safe in the tree
Tree Branch Woody plant Plant Trunk

And Fuzzy Rat. always intrepid and posing for the camera about 50% tumors by this point.
Grass Green Lawn Pasture Grassland


I'm not dumping ethics or morality on anyone reading this, and Amelia was a great rat we were proud to own and she took care of Fuzzy Rat grooming her when she couldn't do it for herself... She was a sweet, somewhat reclusive but always loving rat and she was the only rat we ever had that figured out how to open the cage door... so she was smart too.

High whites are beautiful and I suppose someone is always going to breed them and take the risks... They are well worth owning... But there will always be batches that go south... Adopting Amelia second hand when Fuzzy Rat wanted her and my daughter wanted her, and I have to admit I thought she was gorgeous, didn't pose any moral dilemma to me... but everyone should decide for themselves if they want to adopt rats from breeders that have high white in their genetic mix. And breeders should advise folks they are breeding American high whites. I may be wrong, but to my knowledge, there may be riskier strains and better strains, but there still are no 100% safe American high white rats so every breeder that works with them is eventually going to have a batch go south.

Just a heads up... not a judgment. Push come to shove.. high whites deserve great homes and people to love them too.

No knock on any breeders is intended or implied. Amelia was show quality and exceptional and if her brothers and sisters hadn't blown up and died, I'm sure they would have been too. Likewise I'm sure Agothic Rattery is offering some really spectacular rats. And yes, I would own another one, but I wouldn't breed them myself.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I think I'll try emailing the breeder and learning more about her practices. If she can provide realistic health records and a pedigree with tons of information about all the animals she's ever bred and their ancestors then I might go for it. She's got to be better than petco right? At least her set up and diet is reasonable so even if she breeds rats prone to health problems they probably aren't going to be worse than a feeder or rescues issues and will at least be well taken care of. I'll probably go for an accidental litter before her though because I'm into rescuing animals in need. Thanks for the advice!
 

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I might be leery about pearl x pearl. I believe I read something somewhere about pearl being homozygous lethal (meaning, if a rat has two pearl genes, then they can die), however given her seeming track record with everything else I doubt it.

I just looked into it and it seems, yes, Pe (the gene that codes for pearl) is homozygous lethal.

There's also the case if it is that homozygous lethal animals often die and get reabsorbed before they are born and that the rest of the babies will be completely fine. Many people hear homozygous lethal and think roans in horses or merles in dogs - where the puppies or foals are born with horrible defects and suffer harshly before death. I wasn't able to find anything on this happening to rats.

Basically it's like this: The two pearls are Pe | pe, meaning they have one pearl gene and one non-pearl gene they carry. They are Pepe both, so if you know how punnett squares work, you get this:
____Pe_ pe
Pe PePe_ Pepe
pe Pepe__ pepe

25% homozygous lethal, 50% pearl, and 25% non-pearl.

So, it depends on how you feel about that. Rat babies that are homozygous lethal pearl will not be born. Likely they just get reabsorbed or are stillborn. I haven't seen anything on adverse effect on pearl carriers, though, they seem to be 100% healthy if all else fails. I don't know if I would exactly count this again Agothic Rattery or not; some people strongly hold the belief that babies are not babies until they're born or until a certain week or until this or that - while you may not hold that same opinion, some breeders find homozygous lethal that die in utero and get reabsorbed to not be unethical simply because of their own values and beliefs. If it came right down to it I, personally, prefer a breeder breeding correct pearl rats together than say, manx rats together. Baby "bad" manx rats are actually born, suffer highly, and might die from a number of things. Pearl babies appear to, again, die before even being born and get reabsorbed or are stillborn.

I also found that there might be another pearl gene out there - represented by Pelpel. I couldn't find much research on this particular gene but it appears to have something to do with mink pearls exclusively from American lines. Perhaps "Pel" is not homozygous lethal and my spew was for nothing, but in normal pearl rats the above still applies.

As to the high white question - can a line just suddenly spring up with high white megacolon deaths? I'm wondering this because, in horses, roan and overo (two "high white" genes) are homozygous lethal in certain breeds. HOWEVER, in other breeds, it appears that (especially roan) they can be homozygous and it's not lethal. Why is this? I don't know, for sure.

However, in OLWS (overo lethal white syndrome though it is sometimes seen as OWLS for acronym sake), the foals die from megacolon much the same as baby rats do. If some horse breeds can get away with OLWS, why is it not possible for there to be healthy strains of high white rats? If there is absolutely no record of megacolon, why would it just suddenly spring up one day, when in other species at least, some strains of the same species are immune to these high white genes?

I'm not challenging anything, of course, it's simply food for thought for the OP. In my experience GOOD hw breeders will quickly end lines that appear with megacolon. I am firmly on the stance that there is a way to breed blazes, headspots, etc in an ethical and responsible manner - or else all of those lines would simply be gone from megacolon at this point. What is unethical to me is the breeding of BEW, because it is simply the color that causes a myriad of issues, however there are many blazed, head spot, variegated, dalmatian, etc. rats out there who live very long, very healthy lives - leading me to hope and believe that there can be high white lines without consequences.
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Thanks for the advice. My personal thoughts on the pearl homozygous lethal thing is that as long as the mother and babies are not in any pain it is okay. I might not choose to do it if I were to breed, but I think I won't hold it against this breeder. There is just so much worse out there to worry about so I'm not going to be picky on this. Thanks for the high white info too appreciate it.
 

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I'm pretty sure high white is a more complex issue than just one gene... Amelia had huge feet and odd bristly fur and black eyes that flashed red almost as if she could do it on purpose.... Her snout was too pointy and if you really looked closely at her she was just out of proportion, not to mention huge... I suppose it could be one gene modifying everything, but it's also possible that it's a more complex interaction so you can get a scenario where you can breed lots of healthy rats and still have a rat or a litter go bad.

There is reportedly a British high white strain that doesn't get megacolon... But afik all US strains carry the risk.

When you really see a high white close up and personal they are exceptionally attractive rats, Amelia's white fur was actually bluish white not the kind of white normal rats have... People are always going to prize high whites, so someone is always going to breed them. Once high whites make about six weeks old they are pretty much as healthy as any other rats... If the breeder doesn't mind culling a few litters of pups along the way, no one is likely to know she's having a few bad batches now and again... Now if she dumps the survivors at a not too nearby pet shop and no one else for a couple hundred miles is breeding high whites, someone just might wonder where they came from.

And by the way... Amelia never much liked meeting people, but when we took her out she always got mobbed. There's something in the one off looks of a high white that attracts people that don't even like rats. (think hot blond) People found her darn near irresistible. If you really want to sell rats, breed American high whites, people just instantly fall in love with them, well I suppose that goes with a particular ability to endure certain losses.... but for sure people will buy your rats.
 

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I think theres a difference between high whites and rats with facial markings. We have a lot of rats with facial markings here in the UK, such as essex which i know well as we breed for it, there's also roan, blazed berkshire and variagated which often has facial markings, none of these have particular links with megacolon, which is thankfully very rare over here in the UK. The clear difference with these is generally the rats dont have loads of white on there faces, just a head spot or narrow blaze, saying that wider blazes do happen and dont cause any worse issues for the rat.

Then you get chinchilla, which is a variety which has facial markings and a different colour. This had strong links to megacolon in the early days but was taken on by a good breeder or two who bred away from the issues and now you rarely ever see it even in those lines. Even now though if its bred irrisponsibly the megacolon links can come back so its not a gene that many breeders take on. This is much closer to what the high white gene is over there i think and is one i would avoid. That doesnt mean that ever facially marked rat is high white in the US, just that it might be. If the breeder knows her line well she may have a good understanding of this.

Rat Daddy - the red flash eyes are actually a type of ruby eyes, when a facial marking gets close to the eyes or touches them it alters the pigment of the eye and changes it from black to ruby or ruby to pink. Its how you get odd eyed rats when the blaze/marking is only near one eye and not the other.

In terms of homozygous lethal genes, essex (one of the genes we breed with) is also homozygous lethal so its somethign i'm familiar with and we had an odd pearl litter pop up recently (dont you love recessievs). We dont purposefully mate 2 essex or pearl rats together, whilst its most likley that the rats will never be born, just harmlessly reabsorbed in the womb, i have spoken to other breeders who have had the occasional litter where the babies are still born or die soon after brith (rare though). To be honest though in every litter theres a good chance of loosing 1 or 2 babies in the first 48 hours, but i've never really wanted to add to that number, though mum doesnt seem bothered by it and the babies at that age are not really aware. We did have 2 litters which we now realise were double pearl, one mum was black so we had no way of telling she carried pearl, the second mum was mink with a light undercoat which after mating we realise was actually very dark phase pearl (mink is a very interesting one, it can vary in shade so much), Dad was a light looking cinnamon who we now beleive was genetically a cinnamon pearl, but a very dark one. We traced it back and believe that the pearl gene last expressed itself some 8 generations ago, thats a long time to stay hidden). Both litters were much smaller than our normal litters but the babies and mums were very health and happy throughout (if a bit chubby as a smaller litter tends to get spoilt by mum).
 

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I think American high white breeders get away with what they are doing because it's just so hard to explain what a high white looks like. High whites can resemble other types of blazed rats and some don't have blazes at all. And truthfully in photos it's almost impossible to be 100% sure with many of them.... Our blue capped dumbo silky rex has a blaze similar to some high whites, but when you look at her, her proportions are pretty much normal and her litter mates were very similar to her. High white litters usually have a mix of different types of blazes as well as the more common high white markings and they sometimes contain more normal looking rats or something really odd like dalmatians or even a striped variation.

When you find a single high white, if you really know rats, I think somewhere in the back of your mind something just tells you it's wrong.... I suppose individually you can explain away any single characteristic on a high white, but taken as a whole, you would most likely be able to pick out all of the high whites in a group of 1000 other rats with a high level of precision. And when you see a litter of high whites, it's the mix of markings that tend to give the litter away. I might add that not every rat actually will have the tell tale high white markings for example the striped variant may not have a blaze at all and the stripes don't get too much lighter towards the belly. And yes a rat with stripes in the litter is a bad sign when the others have a mix of big blazes...

But oddly it's that unique one off characteristic that makes many high whites so attractive. It's like beautiful women come in all sizes, shapes and combinations of hair and eye color, but something you really can't put your finger on sets them apart.

In breeding tropical fish, we sometimes came across linked genes. Pearl scale angelfish have a linked gene that can cause the offspring to lack or have deformed pelvic fins. These fish are usually culled by the breeder, but it's not lethal and these odd deformed angelfish sometimes slip through in large broods and turn up in pet shops. Because the cause of the abnormality isn't the gene you are breeding for itself they don't occur in nearly the frequency you would predict with the punnett square as it takes an interaction of multiple genes to cause the deformity to manifest itself. Similarly, I tend to believe that American high whites and other strains that suffer with megacolon are linked gene issues and a breeder might be able to go several generations without seeing megacolon and still have things to terribly wrong "out of the blue".

Had I crossed Amelia with her surviving brother odds would have it that I would get a pretty tragic litter, or perhaps not... But I'm thinking that her breeder culled her and her brother at 3 weeks old because she wasn't willing to take that chance or the chance that something was about to go wrong with them too. This might sound odd, but it might be easier to breed for megacolon that to breed around it.

All things considered, high whites are unique, intelligent and uncommonly attractive. They are rats anyone would be proud to own. They can have sterling personalities and live a long and healthy life. But they do present certain moral and ethical dilemmas. I suppose it would somehow be a bad thing if they were gone forever, but I often wondered about Amelia's litter mates and how they may have suffered... and what price they paid for us to have our big beautiful girl. It's actually one of those things you try not to think about when you own a high white from a litter of two survivors.

I also might add that I'm sure every breeder that works with high whites or other rats with dangerous gene combinations is going to tell you they are trying to breed around the problem and/or improve the strain. But keep in mind that presupposes they know the risks and are willing to accept the consequences and the losses. I wouldn't necessarily accept a breeder's stated goals as a defense of breeding high risk rats, if it otherwise morally concerns you. I read somewhere that a breeder spent years trying to breed megacolon free high whites and never succeeded... on the other hand what he or she didn't write about was how many top dollar fancy high white rats they sold in the meantime... Megacolon free high whites would have been nice, but guaranteed rat sales was probably nice to have along the way.

I might add one more footnote, breeders that do high whites are less likely to post upcoming breedings than normal breeders. They wait to see what they get and then post the cute photos and then take orders. This way they don't have to explain the "missing litter" to anyone on the waiting list. I suppose that might be added to the watch list for potential rat adopters too. Announced litters that don't materialize and breeders that don't post litters until they arrive, may be a bad sign that breeders are working with known dangerous genetics.

Again, no offense to other high white owners or breeders is intended on my part here. The morality and ethics of adopting or breeding any rat is a personal decision that everyone should make for themselves... but they should be informed so they can make an informed decision.
 
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