Written by Anastasia Babbage from Too-Many-Mice
What I love about breeding mice is the ability to observe change and in a way evolution in real time. Mice breed quickly and over the generations their appearance can change quite dramatically.
When breeding pet and show lines, this is something the breeder needs to be aware of as many things not just looks can be genetic, temperament, susceptibility to illness and cancers as well as other traits are to a degree genetic.
But sometimes the breeder may be rewarded for their efforts in the form of a spontaneous mutation. Although, this can also be a curse as “new” genes are often unstable or come with unknown baggage attached in the form of health problems.
Due to the nature of sexual reproduction a mutation can happen at any time, in any group of breeding stock. Most of the time these mutations can be a advantage or even lethal. However, every once in a while, the pop up and wow us with their dramatic change from the norm.
I have found, from my own experiences and from research, that the best place to look for such a mutation is within well established, large population lines. As the animals will all be closely related the chance of a mutation being visible is much greater than in un related or newly established breeding lines.
This does pose its own set of challenges however as closely related animals are more likely to suffer inbreeding depressing, smaller size, reduced vigour and most notable the accumulation of undesirable traits things like thin short tails, small eyes, poorly formed years, and over all deformities. All the things a good breeder should be breeding away from.
In my time as a breeder, I have had a few of these spontaneous mutations occur. They have been both blessing and curse. In 2015 I had my first encounter with such a mutation, I was working a line of Siamese with the goal of darkest coats possible, my plan was to attempt to imitate the Siamese from the UK and USA without the extreme black gene, a gene we lack in Australia.
This blood line had been established for about 3 years originating from feeder stock where no new blood had been added to them in a while. I was quite bewildered to see one day that suddenly I had a small group of Absyssians. At first, I had no idea what they were and asked online for help identifying them.
Sure enough they were confirmed to be something new, suddenly everyone wanted to be my friend. The attention did put me off at first, but I still gave updates on them unfortunately in the end they turned out to be non-reproducible despite my best efforts. I had concluded that these were due to an unstable gene.
As can be the case with any spontaneous mutation. There can be many false starts and hiccups along the way to establishing new genes in any animal.
Unfortunately, I no longer have any animals from that original bloodline and the ones that did find their way into the hands of other breeders have been out=crossed to the point that the original line is lost.
Just recently a another “new” mutation has popped up in my lines, once again out of animals that originated as feeder stock, although this time I have added quite a lot of new blood from several breeders. This new mutation we are referring to as “Tri Colour” although it is still unproven. So far breeding trials for this line have seen mixed results with marked individuals popping up almost randomly and so far, no males have been produced only females.
I do hope to yield greater success with the “Tri Colours” than what I had seen in the past with the Absyssians. The line is still quite young and there is a lot of work to do with them yet.
As said above, a spontaneous mutation is not without its burdens and the breeder must be dedicated to working with them to repeat the results in a way refining one new gene is a lot more work than trying to create that perfect multi gene combo animal.
The effort involved can be well worth it as seen with the ever-popular patchwork mice, who had similar origins to the mutations I have detailed.
My advice for all breeders is to keep an open mind to the possibilities of mutations popping up. You might be the next lucky one to raise something never seen before in the fancy.
Queensland Rodent Fanciers (QRF) is aware that Queensland is a very large state, there are many people out there breeding rats and mice. Some of them good, some of them bad. It is for this reason and to make it easier for those wishing to welcome rats or mice into their homes that QRF has their registered breeders list. This list of breeders is approved by a special breeders committee formed from the most experienced breeders within QRF.
A registered breeder starts out like any breeder with a love for rats or mice or both. They decided they want to breed and start to learn all they can about the animals they choose to breed. They investigate genetics, coat types, coat markings, health and temperament issues. They know it is not as simple as “put this male with this female = babies”. A good breeder knows there is a lot more involved in breeding a good rat or mouse.
They know there are many good and bad things about breeding. Things can go bad. I learnt this the hard way when I first started breeding when I lost one of my pregnant females and her babies due to factors out of my control. It was heartbreaking to lose one of my girls and her babies that way.
But then on the other hand it can go very well. You can pair a male and female with it resulting in beautiful little babies of amazing health and temperament. Or you can have one mother rat only have three of her own babies, then take on six foster babies while you watch in wonder and amazement at how she just accepts these babies that are not her own but need a mother. How amazing is nature? How wonderful is it that she was able to help save these babies when their own mother, sadly, could not?
QRF takes great pride in all its registered breeders and they all must go through the same process to become registered. Even myself, I had to start from the beginning to become a registered breeder. I had to go to one of our shows and fill out my “Intention to Breed” form. I then had to attend at least six shows over a 12 month period and show animals that I had bred. After that I could then fill out my “Application to Breed” form and have my interview with the Breeders Committee. The interview consists of simple questions to show that a breeder knows the basics or is willing to learn with the help of a mentor.
Once I was approved that’s it! I became a registered breeder and became one of those that QRF takes great pride in. I also take great pride in the fact that I have won “Best Breeders Group” at the last two shows.
However, it doesn’t stop there. It’s not as simple as I’m a registered breeder I can advertise in the group, sell animals and breed to my heart’s content. There is much more than that. I must continue to show my animals although, let’s be honest, I would continue to show even if I wasn’t a registered breeder.
The most importing thing. And I cannot stress this enough. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I must do as a registered breed is continuing to hold myself to the QRF Code of Ethics. The code consist of some pretty standard stuff and I personally don’t see how anyone could have any problem holding themselves to these standards. The full Code of Ethics is below. I was going to link you all to the Google Doc however I feel it is important for it to be completely copied into this post for all of those to read and see.
Queensland Rodent Fanciers Code of Ethics
Additional Ethics for Those Who Choose to Breed Food Animals;
QRF currently has seven registered breeders in Queensland, nine registered breeders in New South Wales and one registered rescue. All these breeders are constantly showing their rats and mice while abiding by the Code of Ethics.
We have quite a few breeders also in the process of becoming registered and are very excited about the fact that they are close to achieving their goal and moving forward with the Club. I myself look forward to being able to welcome them to the breeder community and adding them with pride to the QRF website.
Hopefully this sheds some light as to what a QRF registered breeder actually is and I in no way intend this to be a “only buy from these breeders. All other breeders are terrible” kind of post, because that is not the case at all. There are many of wonderful breeders out there. The registered breeders list is just a way for you to welcome rats or mice into your home from breeders that we know to be quality breeders with quality animals that you are going to be able to have in your life as long as you can.
If you want more information, know a breeder who you think would be interested in becoming a registered breed or you want to become a registered breeder yourself then please feel free to read the information found here (https://www.qrf.org.au/registered-breeders.html) or send a message to any of the existing breeders. However, the absolute best person to talk to is Tenille Webster. She is my breeder mentor and has helped me greatly. Her love and passion for all things rodent will be able to help you too.
Anywho, I hope this has been somewhat informative and you don’t mind me blabbering to you a bit.
See you all on the 21st of October for our Halloween Show!!
Little Mischief Rattery.
Omg! What an absolute success our Annual Gala was!! I am still blown away by how amazing the day way. So many new people enjoying their shared love for rats and mice. So what happened on the day? Well keep reading to find out!
Well the day started for me by getting up at the ungodly hour of 6am! Krystine and I were not happy by this but we put on our big girl pants (well dresses really) got ready and headed off to the Finnish Hall. Krystine and I got there bright and early to start the set up of the hall, along with many of the other committee members. Our plan was to have all the tables set up before everyone arrived. With so many exhibitors showing and many tables needed to be set up according to our seating plan.
Stephanie from Blazing Tails Rodentry bought along cute little helper by the name of Clover who was more than happy to help us with table cloths and the "don't poke your fingers in cage bar" signs. (Which I managed to break 2 of. but oh well!). All too quickly people started to arriving and I realised we were going to be short on tables. So a few people had to squish and share on a single table and I am so thankful they were so willing to make new friends!
Once we got tables sorted it was time for judges to get to work. Tenille and Sandy were busy judging the 75 rats in varieties and confirmation. Lincoln was judging 93 pet rats and mice. and Caitlin was busy judging 164 mice in varieties with the help of Mixy judging confirmation. So many animal it was amazing!! Thank you to our judges.
I had fun going live again in our Facebook group to give those who couldn't make it a chance to see how amazing the turn out was! After my live video I spent the rest of the day doing the scoring and writing of certificates. I am very proud of the fact that I went away with a few awards including Best Display and Best Breeders Group!
We are a few activities happening on the day to help raise money for the club. Rachel set up a set of canvas's for us to do some painting with out rats. The members of both Queensland Rodent Fanciers and New South Wales Fancy Rodent Society both got a canvas each and the third canvas was put up for auction for someone to win! Tenille was the lucky winner of the third canvas. So each of the clubs and Tenille get to remember this event forever with many rat and mouse footprints!
Tenille also put a lot of hard work into our raffle prizes. Many items were donated by various people and there was a first, second and third prize for both rat and mouse. The raffle was a huge success and the prizes were even won by a few of our new show goers! YAY!
It was so amazing that the some of the members from the New South Wales Fancy Rodent Society were able to join us. We had Kath from Minion Mousery, Jodi from Cyclone Mousery, Sandra from Lucy Lou Rattery and Stephanie from Blazing Tails Rodentry. They all made the long trip from their homes in NSW to join us for the day. They even got to take many awards away with them. I cant wait to see them again and I am so glad they came.
Once the judging was done, the awards handed out and the hall packed up it was time to head home. Or at least we thought it was. Tenille had decided she was holding an After Gala Party so we all headed back to her place for a wind down and catch up for a while until it was time for bed as the NSW gang had a long drive ahead of them.
All in all the day was amazing and personally the biggest and best show I have attended in all the time I have been showing. Going to have to work hard to top it but I look forward to the challenge.
Our next show is the 21st of October with a Halloween/Apocalypse theme and I really hope all our new show goers (the ones that didnt travel from NSW) can make it!
In the mean time. Thanks again for an amazing day!
Little Mischief Rattery