Rat Forum banner

1 - 5 of 5 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
23 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
So I am still new to rats (don't have any as pets) but have been thinking. I think that their lifespans could definitely be lengthened in the future with a bit of planning. Their general health could also be improved. It seems most rats die from tumor related illness. Therefore, if we could partially or completely elimate tumors, they could theoretically live twice as long. Other small mammals, such as squirrels, can live up to twenty years in captivity.

1.-Bad genes cause so many problems. Rats and other rodents have been intentionally bred to have bad genes so they can be used in laboratory tests. Solution? Ratteries/ratterys need new blood. Rat breeders should go to a farm, trap some of the wild rats- the farmer would be grateful for this! Bring the rats back and have them inter-breed with the domesticated ones. Then breed these offspring to more domestics until you are back to a rat that looks and acts like a regular domestic- it should only take a few generations. This has been done with cats and also with dogs. Cats have been bred to several different species even ones they did not originally descend from and it has resulted in increased vigor and health (also in wild instincts and the need for a raw meat diet, but when crossed over 3 generations to regular cats they begin to act like "normal" pets.) Look up the "sulimov" dog breed. It is originated from dogs that were bred to jackals. These dogs are used in police work because of their superior intelligience and sense of smell. I think rats would benefit largely from new blood just like these species (and others) have done.

2. Epigenetics. What are epigenetics? Basically the "Expression of genes." We cannot choose our genes but we choose how they are expressed. Scientists have shown that humans can turn certain genes on or off depending on diet. "Weak" genes causing proneness to certain diseases can be turned off with a good diet. Dog researchers in Germany took a look at canine hip dysplasia in German shepherds. They took dogs from strains notorious for bad hips. Half of the dogs they fed regular kibble, the other half they fed a raw meat diet based off that of a wolf. They raised these dogs and bred them a few times, studying them over the years. Eventually the second group of dogs had a much lesser incidence of hip dysplasia. It does take generations to heal and turn off certain genes however- scientists say people of Irish descent are only now beginning to recover from the damage done those years when the potato crop failed and people half-starved.

3. Diet. Now I think diet is important for another reason than just epigenetics. Because epigenetics mostly affects offspring, but we must remember what the individual rat eats affects that rat as well. As I said earlier, I am still new to learning about rats so I do not know very much about their diet. But we should aim for something as natural as possible- no dairy (there are other sources of probiotics), and low-fat. We should be looking at the amounts of grains, vegetables/greens and even insects that rats are eating. It is difficult to tell what rats "should" eat since they will eat just about anything. There are rats living deep in the wilderness away from humans and I imagine they are eating good food, though again they don't have the luxury of picking and choosing. They must eat what is in front of them to survive... hm. There is much to think about in this area.

What do you guys think, especially about idea number 1? I think in the long-term it would do a lot of good. Many pet rats are inbred to a degree.

(Note: I see "breeding discussions" aren't allowed but that seems to pertain only to things like "should I breed my rats?" or "breeding advice" and things like that. Looks like others have mentioned ratteries on this site. I'm not planning to breed any rats. This is purely hypothetical, a health-related question/opinion. I think and hope it is considered okay. If not please let me know!)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
996 Posts
I hope this thread isn't against the rules, because it's a nice hypothetical discussion and not promoting or discussing any planned intentional breeding on our parts...

That said, first I want to note that rats have a high tolerance for inbreeding and many breeders use it as a tool to breed healthier rats. Inbreeding isn't the problem... breeding rats with bad genes together is, whether they are related or not. Too many people seem to blame inbreeding for rats' poor health when it's just poor breeding in general.

However, I love the idea of bringing in wild blood. I've day dreamed about starting a domestic line of rats from scratch, so to speak, by using wild ones. Plus, I just love the wild look (agouti, no markings lol). Purely day dreams, of course. I don't know how much that would help improve overall genetic health, though. I don't think our fancy rats are related to the lab rats you are speaking of, so I think rats are just naturally prone to tumors... Therefore, I don't know if wild rats are any less so. Studies would need to be done on the long term health of wild rats before we could know if it would be beneficial to breed them to Fancy ones for health.

As for diet, I personally make my own rat food from human grade grains, seeds, nuts, meat, and dried fruits and veggies. My rats have seemed to be in better health because of it (better fur texture, more energy, etc). They do get diary, though, in their yogurt treats (ones meant for babies, so they are low sugar). I have read that certain diets can affect health of several generations... Such as, a group of mice bred to develop diabetes were fed a gluten free diet. Those mice were bred and the babies never developed diabetes... I may have some of those facts wrong, but it does show that diet is extremely important.

This is an interesting discussion. I look forward to seeing other people's takes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,871 Posts
There are alot of breeders out there who currently are trying to breed healthier longer living rats. That is definitely the goal, it is not a new idea and there are great people trying to make healthier rats.

But it is important to realize as well that rats, while similar to other animals are not the same. Rats have short lifespans. I have read that even wild rats in the laboratory settings do not live long, often around a year. We are looking at an average healthy rat from good lines living 3 years. Ofcourse as with any animal (even humans) luck happens and they may live longer. Some rats have been known to live 5 years or so. (though honestly I take most (not all) cases with a grain of salt, not that I want to call everyone a liar but people exaggerate, miscount, or often got a rat from somewhere else and either were told the wrong age or guesstimated wrong.) It is just highly unlikely that we will be able to increase the average lifespan of rats for much longer then it is. Breeding for a longer lifespan just is not something as simple as color for example.

I just read about a wild bird that only lives like 8 months or something. Some animals just have incredibly short lifes.

It also does not help that there are not a ton of responsible breeders and most people continue to just grab their rats from pet stores. and even worse those who have accidental litters or breed those rats. Until we change that, there will always be a problem. We need to start encouraging real responsible breeders IMO. Still yes hate on BYBs with a passion, but not discussing and encouraging breeders is not going to help IMO

I have also read that while rats have a crazy high chance of getting tumors, we can't compare them with wild rats as most wild rats do not live long enough to reach an older age where getting tumors is common either.

I do think diet plays a huge role in health. But even nutrition for humans is much debated. I remember seeing a thing passed around facebook that showed a list of foods and dates where at one point in time they all had studies that showed they caused cancer & also studies that showed they prevented cancer! lol! How are we supposed to wrap our heads around that? Until we know truly more about cancer itself and foods, I think we will never be truly there. But I do think feeding all natural foods and staying away from crap helps alot.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
350 Posts
If you restrict your rats calorie intake you can increase its life span for 30-40% according to a study but there was a follow up study in mice that found it was dependent on the strain of mouse. I personally wouldn't feel comfortable doing that though.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
23 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
As for diet, I personally make my own rat food from human grade grains, seeds, nuts, meat, and dried fruits and veggies. My rats have seemed to be in better health because of it (better fur texture, more energy, etc). They do get diary, though, in their yogurt treats (ones meant for babies, so they are low sugar). I have read that certain diets can affect health of several generations... Such as, a group of mice bred to develop diabetes were fed a gluten free diet. Those mice were bred and the babies never developed diabetes... I may have some of those facts wrong, but it does show that diet is extremely important.

This is an interesting discussion. I look forward to seeing other people's takes.
Like I said, I'm new so maybe dairy is okay. What I read earlier said that dairy and meat were really bad for them, but I guess not if your rats do well on it! There's a lot of disagreement over what the "proper" diet for rats should be. It's interesting what you say about diabetes and gluten-free diet. I wonder what the connection is there. A good, long discussion on diet would be helpful. We could do that here or on another thread if anyone would like to.

I mentioned the lab rats because I was under the impression fancy rats descended from lab rats. I just looked it up online and apparently not. Woops.

Now as far as wild rats go, studying them is difficult since they are prey animals and rarely die "of old age" or anything aside from predation/poison. I would be willing to bet however that nature has selected them to be very hardy. According to wikipedia: "wild rats generally have larger brains, hearts, livers, kidneys, and adrenal glands than laboratory rats". Now I wonder how pet rats compare to both of these? The adrenal glands may be a result of environment and is probably a sign of stress, not a good thing, but what about the other organs? It seems like bigger brains, hearts, etc. is good.

I wouldn't feel right about restricting calories on rats, either, Amph. That would be like living on Weight Watchers all your life.

Now as for what moonkissed said about studies/food/cancer, one thing you have to understand is this: most of those studies, didn't even use the actual "food." What happens in the studies is this: scientists take an chemical extract from a fruit, or more likely they build a synthetic extract made to resemble that chemical. They then put it into a "test tube" environment with cancer cells. If the cancer cells die, the study says, "Food prevents cancer!!!" but if nothing happens it says "Food is useless and may worsen cancer!!!" A lot of so-called "Scientific" studies are worthless- at least, the health-related ones are. To test a food's health, studies need to actually use that food. Then there are questions of quality. Let's say they wanted to study if peaches helped cancer. Must the peaches be fresh? Could you use dried or canned ones? If you use dried, can they have salt or sugar added? Should they be organic or are pesticides okay? You see the problem. I am wary of studies on certain subjects until there are many studies on it. One study is not enough, IMO. There are too many variables and results are often sensationalized.
 
1 - 5 of 5 Posts
Top