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Discussion Starter #1
I recently purchases #2014 Harlan Teklad lab blocks from "The Rat Shop." I've been feeding them to my rats now for a few weeks with their regular diet. Suddenly, the four rats of mine that have never had tumors before in their lives now all have tumors in the same spot and about the same size at the same time. The tumor is on their right side next to or right below their hind leg. Coincidence? I think not. I know they are tumors because I've been through them a lot before. Dora's is actually purple which I can see because of her hair loss. Our vet who has removed many other of my rats tumor says they are purple. This is lovely. Age might be a factor but I am highly suspicious of this food. Its not ever being fed to my rats again. Not with this experience.
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

aww i'm sorry. is the tumor growing somewhere in particular on all your rats? sounds like it could be a kidney or something if it's in that location. it's possible the food had something to do with it, especially since aren't all your rats brothers and sisters? so their genetics can definitely play a role in tumors, and since they're all same in age and genetics maybe the food brought something up in them?

i can ask the nutritionist for the denver zoo about what might be in the lab blocks that's causing this tumor, but it would really help if the tumor was in a particular location and not just random...?
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

Harlan Teklad is one of the most tested foods out there. I doubt it caused these tumours since they use these feeds with lab rats and want only tumours that they produce. Are your rats older?
Btw HT 2014 is really only good for healthy adults, older rats and growing rats won't get enough nutrition from 14% protein.

I'm sorry you are developing tumours, they sound genetic and cancerous and coincided with your change to HT.
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

For anyone curious I got this letter from a friend but it has a lot of info on Harlan Teklad's rat diets since this is the Topic du Jour.

I found this letter on another site but it is dated Sept 2006 so perhaps it is old info.
Anyway, I thought the information was interesting ....

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... it is a response (from Chuck Benton, Ph.D. Nutritionist/Technical Services for Harlan) to an email from some so I have removed that person's name and info.. Oh and "Dux" is one of his colleagues not the person who emailed them to start with. It is a bit long but enlightening as it were.

"Thank you for your email. I am one of the nutritionists at Harlan Teklad. I am not a salesperson and you will not get sales spin from me. You are correct about the quality of our diets. We manufacture our diets using the same formulas each and every time. We have standard operating procedures that we follow with each and every production. We test our ingredients when they arrive to our production facilities and we audit our suppliers. So you can rest assured that when you feed our diets to your pets, that you are feeding a consistent and quality diet. Much of what Dux said is correct although some of the facts are not quite right or need clarification. First, Harlan Teklad manufactures diets specifically for laboratory animals. Our diets were never designed with the pet food industry in mind. We have never promoted our diets for pet mice and rats nor do we know much about this industry. In fact, until recently I was not aware of how well known our products were in the pet mouse and rat industry. Upon receiving quite a few emails from rat and mouse enthusiasts such as yourself, I did a little research on-line and was shocked at how many websites existed for rat and mouse enthusiasts and of how well known our products are. It was indeed an eye opener for me. So when Dux writes that our diets were not designed with the enthusiast in mind she is correct. However, we have many diets for mice and rats with different levels of nutrition, designed for different purposes and it is not accurate to paint them all with a broad brush as was done. We have over 22 diets for mice and rats. Some were formulated for breeding animals, some for general purpose (breeding and non-breeding), and others for rodents on long term (2 year) studies. First, one has to understand that many of these diets were formulated 15-20+ years ago when there was very little known about the nutritional requirements of mice and rats. To ensure that nutritional deficiencies did not occur the "more is better" approach was followed where diets were formulated to obtain nutrient levels that were known to prevent deficiency signs. Over-nutrition was not viewed as much of a concern compared to malnutrition, especially when feeding mice and rats on short studies. Thus many traditional rodent diets contain more protein that is required. Excessive protein can cause kidney damage in aging mice and rats. So excessive dietary protein can be a problem. Most lab animal diets like commercial diets for pigs and chickens are supplemented with vitamins and minerals to prevent deficiencies. Most food for human consumption is supplemented with the same vitamins. The supplemental vitamins do not harm the animal. They are not inherently bad as Dux would suggest.

Today we know much more about the nutritional requirements of mice and rats than be did when most diets were formulated. A breeding rat or mouse only needs about 18% crude protein and a non-breeding adult rat only needs about 9% crude protein or perhaps less. Yet most of our traditional diets contain 22-24% protein. In 2000 we launched a new range of diets which we called our Global Diets because they are available in both the U.S. and Europe. The Global Rodent Diets are 2014, 2016, 2018, and 2019. When these diets were formulated the present knowledge of the nutrient requirements of mice and rats was taken into consideration. Diet 2014 was formulated for non-breeding rodents on long-term studies (2 year). This diet has a low protein content of only 14%. Excess protein can cause kidney damage in aging mice and rats. Mice and rats that are not actively breeding do not require as much protein so it is appropriate to feed this diet to rodents on long-term studies rather than diets that contain 19-24% protein. Diet 2016 was designed quite honestly for customers who were afraid to feed a diet with only 14% protein. It is difficult to get customers who have been feeding 19-24% protein diets to switch to 14% protein but they might warm up to 16% protein, thus 2016. Diets 2018 and 2019 were designed for breeding mice and rats. These animals require more protein and energy to support gestation and most importantly lactation. Diet 2018 contains 18% protein and 6% fat. Diet 2019 contains 19% protein and 9% fat. Increasing protein potentially can harm the kidneys of aging mice and rats but it does not make mice and rats fat. In fact, it has a slight negative effect on weight and fat composition (remember the Atkins diet). Energy intake by the mouse or rat controls body weight and fat deposition. Diets 2014 and 2016 contain about 4% fat while diets 2018 and 2019 contain about 6% fat and 9% fat respectively. So diets 2018 and 2019 contain slightly more energy than 2014 and 2016. Mice and rats fed diets 2014 or 2016 may put on less weight than mice and rats fed 2018 and 2019 over the long term. But it is not the protein content that is responsible. It is the increase in fat and thus the increase in energy content of the diet that is responsible for weight gain and increase fat deposition.

What are my suggestions when it comes to maximizing the life expectancy of your mouse or rat? Well, Dux hit this one right on the head. Excess weight gain is the enemy of longevity in mice and rats as it is in humans and all mammals. Excessive body weight will accelerate the onset of the diseases associated with old age which for many mice and rats is cancer. Long-term studies with mice and rats show that when the animals are restricted to 2/3 of what they would normally eat when allowed unlimited access to food that they live longer and the diseases associated with old age occur at a later age. If I had pet rats or mice, I would feed them diet 2014. It has a low level of protein compared to all other diets. Remember excess protein can cause kidney damage in aging mice and rats. Diet 2014 contains enough fat to meet the requirements for essential fatty acids but less fat than most other diets so the energy content is lower than most other diets as well. This diet was designed to be fed to mice and rats on long-term 2-year studies. Essentially the aims of the researcher feeding the diet to their research animals are closely aligned with the aims of the rat or mouse enthusiast. Avoid high calorie supplements such as nuts, chips and other junk foods which while tasty, encourage excessive weight gain. The mice and rats may still get fat on 2014 as they age. In general mammals given unlimited access to food increase their weight as they age. You can seek to restrict the diet if you wish or you can supplement their diet with high fiber foods such as fruits and vegetables. High fiber foods will fill their stomachs making them feel full but contributing little to their energy intake. However, make sure that in feeding these high fiber supplements that you do not displace the diet by more than 33%. The animal is relying on the diet to meet its nutrient requirements. The supplements are for enrichment and an attempt to reduce excessive weight gain. Also, place items in the cage which decrease boredom. If I put you in a room with nothing to do, but with food always available you are going to spend a great deal of time eating and drinking too.

In closing I just want to remind you of something that you already know. Mice and rats have a short life expectancy. By controlling body weight gain through energy restriction you are adding at best a few weeks or months on to their lives. But, the quality of their lives may vastly improve which I would say is what is truly important. Also, if you are breeding I would recommend 2018. Do not feed 2014 to breeding mice and rats. It is too low in protein and will lead to deficiency.

Sincerely,
Chuck Benton, Ph.D.
Nutritionist/Technical Services
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

Considering that all your rats are the same age, and are getting up there in age, and that they're related - and probably very closely related - it seems logical to me that they'd all be prone to the same sort of tumors. I doubt it's the HT, unless there's some other contributing factor.
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

Aww, I'm sorry to hear about your rats. :/ I just had to have one of my lot put to sleep because of a tumor. *sigh* I hope that they are eligable for removal of their lumps at least?

And lilspaz68 - logically, it's hard to trust anything coming from a representative of a company, even a scientist. Who do you think signs his paychecks??? He isn't going to speak bad of them. If you ever want good scientific information, you should always look for a non-affiliated company that does the research.

Personally, I've never been a fan of lab blocks anyway. Surprisingly, despite the proclivity of mammary tumors in does, I've had to deal with very few, even in rescues of questionable genetic background.
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

Ahh but Icelore its still extremely unlikely these lab blocks caused tumours in her rats.
The letter was quoted for interest's sake, take what you will from it, but since they didn't even know about the pet industry using their diets I would think they aren't trying to impress us.
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

lilspaz68 said:
Ahh but Icelore its still extremely unlikely these lab blocks caused tumours in her rats.
The letter was quoted for interest's sake, take what you will from it, but since they didn't even know about the pet industry using their diets I would think they aren't trying to impress us.
I didn't say anything about the blocks causing tumors. And Harlan does indeed know about consumer pet use of their products. Why do you think they shop to non-lab addresses? All manufacturers know where their product is going. Not to know would be foolhardy business practices.

I was just making the point that you can't trust a paid employee of a company to represent it in a truthful light, in any circumstance.
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

To me harlan is the best block out there. Most blocks contain too many phytoestrogens like alfalfa and soybean meal which you want to limit esp if they have mammary tumors. So I always go with the 2014. It's much easier using these with your mix then trying to figure out if they are getting all the right nutrients.
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

Sadly I cannot get any HT blocks here since I live in Canada. I buy the 50 lb bags of Mazuri 6F instead (16% protein, 6% fat).

There are all sorts of debates going on about lower protein diets reducing tumour incidence. liver failure when older, etc. I'll let you know once my older girls get to that age...I guess with all the rescues I have we had consider it a small test colony...LOL. then again I also have some spayed females as well as all neutered males. Is that considered cheating?
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

I wasn't even aware you couldn't get it there, but that mazuri is the next best thing though. I bought the 6f before, but my rats wouldn't touch it after eating harlan for some odd reason. I'm definitely tired of tumors though.
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

Are the rats all related? What are their ages? And are they males or females? Intact?
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

Night said:
Are the rats all related? What are their ages? And are they males or females? Intact?
Not to speak for Rachel_Phantom, but I think I recall from her 'meet my rats' thread that they're Momma and kids from an oops litter, all 3 years old, mixed male and female (though I don't know who's got tumors), and the males are neutered, don't know about the femmes?

Has anyone else heard of something like this happening? I don't want to put my boys at risk of anything like that. :(
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

I thought so. If they females aren't spayed, and those are the ones with tumors, I'd say it's just a coincidence and not at all from the food. Sounds like they all developed mammary tumors. Many, many people swear by HT blocks, and have never had any problems with them.
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

If the rats are 3 years old and they have tumours, thats almost "normal", my perfectly healthy 3 year old boy developed an abdominal mass. It sure wasn't sudden in these rats case, since they are 3. The norm is masses at that age and even a lot younger.

If I had known the ages that would've made the HT component a moot fact.
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

Esp if they are related I rescued a mom and her babies a couple years ago and 4 of the girls got tumors all in the same place so it's possible.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

Yes all my rats are over three years old. Yes, that is a contributing factor, but NO I don't think thats all that has caused the tumors. I have seven females, and one neutered male. Annie (the mom), Lady T, Junior, & Patches (male) have all had tumors prior to getting the HT lab blocks. All have been removed from them in about 7 different surgeries, some with multiple tumors. The four who have tumors now are: Cowbaby, Diamond, Dora, & Lady X, NONE of which have had tumors earlier in life before these new lab blocks. They are on a whole grain, natural diet of oats and other assorted grains which I mix myself. I think its a little more than coincidence. Considering the tumors are all in the same place on all four rats who have NEVER had tumors before, its not coincidence. Articles don't make a difference. I don't believe statistics, because according to them my rats should be dead cold since they are pet store/oops litter rats. You people can say what you want but that doesn't change the fact that I now have four babies on the down hill slope because of these tumors. Diamond is becoming paralyzed and its only a matter of time. These four beautiful girls have been in peak condition up to the point of these tumors. I'm choosing not to get these tumors operated on because of their age and I would hate to loose them instantly because of a simple procedure, rather than letting them live as long as possible with the tumor. Sorry if I don't feel quite so happy about this rat food.

Sorry if these seems harsh or rude to anyone. Put yourself in my situation, I don't think you'd be so happy with the tumors, plus people telling you whats wrong with your rats when they have no clue.
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

we're just offering alternatives, we're not saying it's not the food, we're just saying that we've never heard of it happening before. does not mean that it cannot happen. your rats have many other contributing factors, and you cannot say that you don't agree. saying that "we have no clue" is a little harsh - we've all lost animals before, we all know how awful it is to wake up one day and see your babies going downhill, we know where you are coming from, and as a collective group of rat enthusiasts, we have simply never heard of HT lab blocks causing tumors. in any case, we all feel for you, and no matter what caused the tumors, we will be there for you and your rats. in a case like this, what caused the tumors is not worth arguing about. :p
 

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Re: Not so sure how I feel about these Harlan Teklad lab blo

Thank you OnlyOno.

I ask all you others to not post back about the food or causing tumors for a while. This is really hard for me, and I'm just blowing off steam. Condolences are fine. But other than that, I'd really appreciate it if you kept opinions to yourself.
 
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