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Rodent and Small Pet Breeding in General

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    Your dooyooMiles Miles

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      18.06.2009 20:42
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      Something I would love to do again!

      HAMSTER BREEDING:

      Hamsters are actually quite easy to breed, but you need to be commited to it, and you need to know what your doing, and you must be sure your ready for the responsibility, yes it may be the hamster who is having the babies, but you will play a big part in their upbringing.

      Your first task is of course getting a male and female hamster, this is simple, just ask your pet shop for one male and one female, but they MUST live in seperate cages, two hamsters CANNOT live together, I cannot stress that enough! Once two syrian hamsters are put into one cage together they will fight, there is no two ways about it, its not a case of "oh they might be ok", hamsters are solitary animals, they would possibly be "ok" for an hour or so, but there would be a fight and one or both, would end up dead.

      The breeding process can take just 10 minutes, but it could take a few trys and so a few weeks for the hammy to conceive.

      STEPS TO BREEDING:

      Firstly you need to introduce your hamsters to one and other. This is simple, just take them out of their individual cages for half an hour a day, and put them on a chair, or in a box. Never put one hamster into the others cage, always let them meet on neutral ground, this will reduce the chances of fights.

      A box is best, as this keeps them in close proximity to one and other so they don't end up simply ignoring the other. Always keep a gardening glove on your hand, or a stick of some variety nearby when they're together, just so that if a fight does break out, you can hit them off each other, you don't want to be putting a bare hand in there trust me!!!

      When you have sorted out where they will meet, and you have put them together, this is some of the behaviour you will see:

      Sniffing, rolling around in a ball- this is not fighting...you will know when its a fight when the ball is rolling everywhere and there are loud squaking noises, then you need to separate them asap! And you will find the male hamster humping the female at strange angles and in strange places. This is normal!!!!

      You need to introduce the hamsters a few times before anything will happen between the hamsters, but sometimes you will get lucky, and it could happen to first time you try! Its best to introduce the hamsters when the female is "on heat". This happens every 3 days.

      Knowing when your female is on heat:

      This is pretty easy, the female will get a very strong smell on her coat, this is hard to explain, but you will just KNOW when she is on, you can smell it as soon as you go near her, this will happen every three days, the smell really isn't very nice, and it sticks to everything, but its a very clear way of knowing when she is on, as this is the smell she gives out to the male.

      When she has this smell, get her out, and sit her on your knee, stroke her down her back and she will "freeze", and stay like that for a good few seconds, this is another way of knowing she is ready to conceive.

      When she does this, its time to try to make babies!!

      Doing the Deed:

      When the male has finally got the hang of what he is doing, he will mount the female, and do his business, you should leave them together in a box around 30cm by 30cm for at least half an hour, when he stops been interested in her, he's done, so you can put her back in her house, and him back in his. Leave them like this for a week...check on the female everyday.

      Knowing your female is pregnant:

      Well unlike with humans you can't just go and get a test and know for sure your female is pregnant, but there are signs which are a good way of knowing, and are pretty much a sure thing.

      A female is pregnant for around 16 days. Before this, you will notice the nipples on your females stomach sticking out, not lots, but you can see little dots on her. She will also start to make a nest out of fluff you put in there.
      You will also notice that the smell doesn't come. Around 13 days after she has conceived clean the cage out completely, she will get annoyed at you ruining her nest, but you won't be able to clean it out for a few weeks after she has given birth and it will get smelly!!! Just make sure you put enough wool in for her to make a new nest!

      Also ensure your giving her enough food, about double her normal intake. Bread soaked in milk is a great nutritious meal for your pregnant hammy!! :-D

      When day 15 comes, make sure your hamster is in a room and a place where she will be left undisturbed, and where she will not need to be moved from within the next week or so.

      Leave her overnight and don't feel tempted to go in there and watch, she needs to be as unstressed as possible.

      The next day, just go in and gently lift the nest, hopefully you will see alot of little babies sitting there (usually between 4 and 28 babies), don't touch them as this could make the female kill the babies due to the smell of you on them. Its not worth the risk, and it will only be a couple of weeks until you can handle them!

      The babies need to be left until they're walking around the cage until you can touch them! :)

      Its quite exciting watching the little babies grow, but you need to make sure your caring for them, making sure your putting enough food in for them, and putting an extra water bottle on, which needs to be low enough for the babies to reach.

      The first 12 days or so are a little boring, you don't see the babies at all, unless mum leaves the nest, you need to keep checking the babies are getting food given to them, they will nurse for a week or so, but as they get older, sprinkle smaller pieces of food into the nest so you know they're getting food. This will be around 3 weeks.

      At 5-6 weeks males and females need separating, if you cannot work out for yourself which are which, take them to your nearest vet, as if they're kept together, males can impregnate the girls from a very early age, and this is dangerous for the baby girls.

      At around 7 weeks, the hamsters can go to their new homes, make sure you charge for the hamsters, even if its only £3, this will stop snake owners getting the babies as free food for their snake...yes you may think this is something that won't happen...but trust me, as a snake ownder myself, mice cost between £1 and £2, so if there are free baby hamsters for sale, some people wouldn't think twice about taking them!!! :(

      At around 9 weeks, the hamsters will need to be separated into separate tanks, so you need to try and give them to new homes as soon as possible really as if you have 20 babies, thats 20 cages you will need!!!!!!

      Breeding is very simple and very rewarding! I definitely recommend it, I loved it and since giving birth my female hamster has been a lovely little thing wheras before she was a little aggresive!!! :)

      GOOD LUCK!!!!!!!

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        27.04.2006 11:39
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        To breed or not to breed!

        I decided to write this review as my Mini Rex rabbit is due her very first litter on Saturday. I'm going to tell the basic goings on with breeding and wither you should or shouldn't do it.

        I decided to breed Daisy as she is a rare rabbit up here in Scotland and very hard to get, i shipped her and her mate Tango up from England to begin the process of letting other people enjoy this particular breed with are nicknamed the "velveteen" rabbit due to the incredible softness of their fur.

        The first thing you need to think about when breeding is wither you can sell the babies, mixed breed rabbits can be very hard to sell and even common pedigree rabbits may be trouble-some. You also need to reconise is that there is no money in breeding rabbits, any money you make from the babies will be eaten up with bedding, food, hay, hutches and vet bills so dont think its an easy few quid.

        CHOOSING A BREED

        Rabbits come in all shapes and sizes, from the tiny netherland dwarf who can fit into the palm of your hand to the continental giants who will probably grow bigger than your two year old children, there is a breed out there for you. You must make sure you can accomodate your bunnies, the bigger the rabbit the bigger the hutches so think about the space you have and the budget you are willing to give them.
        I chose the mini rex mainly because of its fur and the wide choice of colours they are available in but they also have very good tempraments and are a nice neat size, an adult male only weighing in at 4lbs.

        Mating

        Once you have chosen your breed and have a pair of non related buns you can then mate them up. Please note that different sizes of rabbits mature at different times, smaller breeds like mine shouldnt be breed under 6 months, larger breeds like the giant later on at 8-9 months.

        Rabbits don't go into heat like most animals, the mating action will cause the doe (female) to produce eggs thus fertilizing her utrine horn (womb). This means you can mate her really whenever you want, however it can also cause problems.
        If the doe is already pregnant and she is mated again at a later date she can actually get pregnant with another litter, this can cause the deaths of babies and even the mother.

        It is important to take the doe to the buck's (male's) cage for mating. If you do it the other way round the buck will be more interested in sniffing about than mating and the female may even attack him. Other than this let them meet in neutral territory.

        If the doe runs away and growls she is not ready to mate at this time and you should take her out and try again at another time.

        If she is ready she will accept the buck by laying down. You're buck will do his business and at the end he will squeak and fall off the doe, take the doe out and wait an hour before putting her back in again. This will increase the chance of pregnancy and the size of the litter.

        PREGNANCY

        The pregnancy will last 31 days before kindling (giving birth). Let her get on with it, there isn't much you can do other than ensure she has plently of fresh water and food.
        If she begins to pull fur from her chest and shoulders she is only preparing a warm nest for her babies, however if she is doing this around day 20 she is more than likely having a false pregnacy. You should notice this just before she kindles.
        28 days after mating you should put in a nest box, if you put it in any earlier she may use it as a toilet. Line the bottom with shavings and leave it, as long as your doe has plenty of access to hay and bedding she will build it herself. You can do it for her if she fails to do this.

        You will probably never see your doe give birth. It takes ten minutes and will more than likely happen late at night when all is quiet. She will have the babies, eat the afterbirth, cover them with pulled fur and leave the nest box. This is natural that she does not "mother" the kits (babies). In the wild mothers stay away from the nest for long periods of time to avoid taking the interest of preditors. In the morning check the babies and remove any dead ones. Leave her to it for a couple of days and then check again that the babies are ok, they should have firm round bellies, this shows they have been fed.

        It is common for first time mums to scatter the litters, this means she will give birth outside the nest box. If this happens and the babies are still alive pick them up and put them in the nest.

        As far as handling goes it is a personal choice, some breeders will not handle the babies until they come out the nest box, others handle from birth.

        WEANING

        The babies will grow quickly, from near hairless and blind to little fluffy balls in a matter of weeks. There is no definate time to wean the babies, it depends on how you feel the baby is. If it's eating on its own and exploring and looking quite confident then you can start this process from as early as 6 weeks but sometimes as late as 8 weeks.

        Start by taking the boldest two babies out and putting them in a separate cage, then the next day take another and the next day take another. If you notice a baby become very withdrawn return it to the mother.

        SEXING

        Your babies can be sexed at about 4 weeks, it's very hard to describe this so i can only recommend that you look on the internet for a site with pictures as both the male and female sex organs can look similar but do have differances.

        SELLING YOUR BABIES

        Advertise your babies as well as you can, word will spread quickly in the rabbit world that you are breeding. I recommend you also join the British Rabbit Council. This is the ONLY place that you can buy rings (metal identifing rings round the back leg of your rabbits) without these rings you cannot show your rabbit and your customers may prefer the rabbit rung. It will cost £25 for the first year and £20 for each year after that.

        They will also provide you with a breed standard list so you can work on you rabbit breeding to produce show quality buns.
        It would also be worthwhile in getting a website, freewebs offer free websites that look really great at no cost.

        It is good practise to sell each baby with a weeks supply of food so that his new owner can swap the feed slowly to a new feed, you should also offer aftercare support.

        Hope this helps anyone out there interested in rabbit breeding, it's great fun and you'll be surprised at how many friends you meet on the way.

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          19.08.2002 21:13
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          Hi it’s Merlin Phoenix the Guinea Pig again. I thought I’d update you all with news of the new woman in my life. Talking about My Girl ****************** Saturday was like any other day, the sun shining, the birds singing, etc. My house was moved from the garage out into the garden. I settled down to finish off some serious sitting down and staring that I had begun the previous evening. Mr P was concerned about me - he said I looked fed up. The two rabbits had each other while all I had was an empty house. When Saturday afternoon came I was sat there chewing away on a nice pellet when my door opened and Mr P lifted me out carried me to a chair and sat down with me on his lap. It took me a second to adjust to the light but when I did there was a vision of loveliness before me. Her eyes were as red and beautiful as a sunset on a warm night, her body was sleek and slender with brown stripes beautifully contrasted against her stark white fur. “Rowwwwwr” I growled seductively. She blinked at me and responded with “meep, neep” which roughly translates to “Where the hell am I and what are you looking at”. I chuckled at her straightforward nature finding it endearing as I lurched forward to smell her behind. “What exactly do you thing you are doing?” she protested indignantly. “I was just checking you out” I replied. “Yeah? Well check THIS out” she said as she head-butted me in the nose. I jumped back startled and looked at Mrs P who was holding her, Mr P pulled me away from her slightly and stroked my fur to calm me down. Mr and Mrs P discussed the importance of letting us get to know each other first before putting us in the run or Summerhouse. They seemed to be worried that I would just scare her if I tried on the Merlin Magic straight away. Getting To Know Her ***************** I looked back at her deep into her
          red eyes “ So what’s your name then?” I asked politely. “Sapphire” she replied. “Nice name, you are indeed a jewe—“ I began in my deepest ‘lets hit the straw’ voice but she cut me off mid-sentence. “O.K. Merlin lets cut to the chase – I know you have been on your own for a while but a lady doesn’t want to be jumped on within five minutes of meeting, you have to wait until I’m ready”. “and that will be ….?” I ventured nervously. “not sure” she replied curtly, “I usually get in the mood every 21 days or so, I will let you know when I am ready”. We sat there for about fifteen minutes gazing into each other’s eyes before Mr and Mrs P plopped us into the summerhouse. Sapphire darted for one end, still nervous about the giants. “They are nice y’know – I’ve been here for six months and they are very gentle” I assured her. She didn’t respond, she just sat with her back to me chewing cloverleaf. I absently chewed grass while all the while my eyes followed the hypnotic sway of her striped rump. She had said a girl doesn’t want to be jumped on within five minutes and since about twenty minutes had now passed, I figured she might be ready to sample the goods. I crept slowly and soundlessly towards her, stopping only to flick an irritated look at the four gleeful faces peering into the run from all directions. Still the desire I was feeling overcame any modesty that I had from having an audience and I was close enough now to have a quick sniff. As I inhaled I let out a “Corrrrr” that just refused to be suppressed and Sapphire spun on her heel and gave me a left right combination that startled me. I dove headfirst into a small pile of hay. “For gods, sake Merlin” I heard her say exasperatedly. Rejection ******* Rejected, I che
          wed m iserably on grass that somehow tasted bitterer than it had before, with tears welling up, I looked up at Mr P, who looked down with sadness reflecting my own. Pangs of guilt forced him to break the mutual look and he flicked through the pages of a book with a picture of someone that looked like my father on the front. “It will take her a while to get used to her new environment and Merlin” he announced, “once she settles in, she will be a lot friendlier” he advised a concerned Mrs P. As I was digesting this information I listened in horror to his next suggestion “Or…..” he said with a smile, “we could just have her stuffed. So he could have her at his leisure”. He laughed as Mrs P launched a slap at him with a smile on her face. He caught the blow before it landed, pulled her wrist gently and used her momentum to bring her in for a kiss. Suddenly I understood, a love tap must be a natural part of the romantic process and Sapphire had hit me twice. Quickly I ran to sapphire and whacked her in the face with my nose “Son of a B----“ she began. As I looked into the burning red eyes I realised my folly as she bore down on me, a left-right combination followed by a head-butt answered any further questions I might have had. I spent the rest of the afternoon apologising and showing her round my summerhouse and gradually we started to grow closer. At one stage, Mr P tried to stroke her and she hid behind me. Winking at me Mr P held his hands up and backed off. “Whoa big guy, I’m not coming between a guy protecting his woman”. I winked my silent thank you back at him and curled my body around her protectively. We lay there in the shade together our bodies resting against each other, our hearts beating as one for the rest of the afternoon. Occasionally, I would nuzzle her and she would move closer, the smell of her fur was intoxicating but I restrained myself
          , somehow I began to sense that she wasn’t ready or willing yet to receive my affections. Later that evening, we moved to my main house and I showed her around. She made herself at home and I let her have the bedroom whilst I sat in the main room thinking about my new companion. Mr and Mrs P came in now and again to look and they said I looked more miserable than ever now because she was rejecting me. They looked at me with such sadness in their eyes. Whilst it is true that I was feeling a little low, at least I had someone to talk to now and every three weeks I would get to show her my best moves. But I had to be patient, I knew that now. Kids **** Sapphire is about 3 months old and she has to breed before she is seven months old or her pubic bone will fuse and she’ll never be able to have kids. This would be dangerous if she wasn’t seen to, because she could be pregnant with no way to give birth, so the way I look at it, I’m doing her a favour!! I overheard the giants saying that they were going to let us have one litter and then they were going to have Sapphire “Done”.. Apparently, Sapphire will be fertile again within 16 hours of giving birth, so we have to be separated for a bit until they make sure she can’t have any more. Otherwise, she could actually be nursing a litter and be pregnant at the same time. Once she is pregnant, we will have sixty-three days or so until the kids arrive but apparently the larger the number of kids we are going to have – the shorter the pregnancy. Then, Sapphire will go off to the Vet for the op. Then the lads and girls will have to be separated after about six weeks because that’s when they reach their sexual maturity. After all, I don’t want six fingered three-legged grandchildren with noses for ears. Mrs P wants to give our children to good homes, but secretly I think Mr P will try to convince her to let them stay with us. It
          will be hard fo r the giants to predict when the babies will be born, since us guinea pigs don’t build nests like rabbits. Mrs P read in the book that we could have six or seven litters of up to six kids each year although the average is three. The book advises that we shouldn’t be allowed to have more than three litters in any one year. The problem with even keeping one kid is that if it’s a boy, It might start getting cocky in which case I might have to give him a smack. He may start getting immoral ideas about his mother – in which case we would both have to give him a smack. If it were a girl, I would have to be separated in case I couldn’t control my own instincts to mate. But if we just had kids of the same sex at least they could be together and wouldn’t be lonely, but Sapphire and I would have to spend our days watching our kids through a wire fence. Our babies are born quite mature. They are large and furry and can walk. They have teeth and their eyes are open. They can eat solid food and drink water from a container straightaway but its better if they are allowed to nurse their mother for at least 2 weeks. I don’t know what will happen yet but If the kids have to go to good homes then so be it because once Sapphire has been done, we can be together forever and I will try to make the next five years of our long lives together wonderful. You see - I knew straight away from the first moment that I laid eyes on her that I was in love and I will love her until the end of our days. Sooner or later she will love me too and from my calculations, it will be within the next two weeks, heh heh heh…meep. Update: 11 October 2002. ********************* Despite, some of my best efforts, i have still been unable to produce any offspring. We laugh and joke, but what do you do when a girl would rather chew hay than roll in it ? I've tried some of my best
          lines in vain but, "hey babe, you got a nice big hairy rump" has just fell on deaf ears. I am beginning to suspect that my so called "mate" is actually a lesbian guinea pig. After all the two rabbits are lesbians, so she probably thinks that is normal. I'll try to keep you updated. Bye for now Merlin

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            19.04.2002 23:28
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            There's a new baby in my house...Not mine, I hasten to add, before the congratulations start pouring in! My two adult chinchillas, Odin and Freya, have just produced their first little baby! It's the cutest thing you ever saw, about an inch long, big brown eyes and soft grey fur, absolutely adorable! We haven't named the new baby, as he (or she - we're not sure yet!) will only be with us for a short while, about three months, before embarking on a new life with a new family. We thought we might give it a temporary name. The bloke favours Alfie, while I quite like Snuffles. Even my Mum has put a request in for Loki - apparently he was the mischievous son of Odin, so that one is quite fitting. Anyway...I thought I'd explain how we got to this point, what you must bear in mind when trying to breed chinchillas, and how to look after the pregnant female and the babies. **** WHY BREED CHINCHILLAS? Chinchillas make fantastic pets. They're attractive, amusing and low maintenance. See my separate op on Chinchillas in general for a list of all the reasons why they make good pets. Breeding Chinchillas is easy and fun. If you have children, it's a good way of teaching them about sex, pregnancy and birth. There aren't many specialist Chinchilla breeders in this country, so you are unlikely to have trouble finding homes for the babies. In fact, you could make some money from the process - Chinchillas are quite expensive and you can expect to pay about £40 - £50 for one in a pet shop, so you could easily ask for £30 for each baby chinchilla. **** SELECTING A BREEDING PAIR I knew I wanted to breed chinchillas, but I also wanted to select a pair that would make good pets in themselves. I chose Odin, the male, first, from a private breeder. It's important to check the health and temperament of the chinchilla when you select them. Their teeth should be sharp and stain
            ed a yellow colour. Their ears should be perky, not laid back, and their fur should be thick and glossy. Avoid chinchillas with loose, straggly fur and dull eyes. If you can, handle the chinchilla before you buy them. You should hold them firmly against your body with one hand supporting their back legs and the other across their body. Liveliness is fine, but if the chinchilla seems very anxious or becomes aggressive, it could indicate a troubled temperament, go for one slightly more placid. When choosing your female, if you've already purchased your male, make sure the female is at least a year old unless you intend to separate them for a while. It's dangerous to breed a female when she's too young. If the female has already had babies, this is good, as it proves her fertility. I got my female, Freya, from a pet shop, where she had been living with another male for a year and had already produced a single baby. Female chinchillas will often be more expensive than males, as they're prized for their fertility. Specialist breeders often try to match different colours and mutations to produce exotic looking chinchillas, but for amateur breeders that really isn't necessary. Odin is a homozygous beige - a sort of off white colour with ruby eyes - and Freya is a charcoal tipped grey. The new baby is Odin's colour but he has Freya's dark eyes instead of Odin's Ruby eyes. Trying to guess how the baby chin will look as an adult is all part of the fun! **** INTRODUCTIONS It's not a good idea to immediately put the chinchillas in the same cage, as they are not used to each other and may fight. If you have two cages, put one in each and leave them close together so they can get used to each others smell. If you have one large cage, you could partition it off and keep each chinchilla in a separate section. Introduce the chinchillas gradually for short periods outside the cage to see if they get on. I
            f they seem to accept each other, put them together in the same cage after about a week. Be alert for signs of fighting. The male may become over excited and repeatedly harass the female, trying to mount her. If she's not ready to mate, she may reject him by raising up on her hind legs and shooting urine at him. If this happens, separate the two immediately and try again a week later. It's very rare for chinchillas to permanently reject a potential mate. In my case, Odin and Freya took a while to accept each other, and fights were common, but with a lot of patience and perseverance they're now quite happy together. **** MATING The male chinchilla will probably try to mate with the female before too long, but these first matings may not result in instant pregnancy. The female has a 30 day cycle and is in heat for about two ort three days at a time. There are a couple of ways you can tell if she is in heat. The male will be more attentive and excited than usual, and she may produce a slight discharge from her vagina. The actual mating takes no more than a few seconds, but the chinchillas may mate three or four times in a row. You will need to check the male for a hair ring. This is a matted ring of hair that develops around the penis after repeated matings, and can cause a lot of discomfort for the male. If you suspect your chinchilla has a hair ring, don't hesitate to take him to the vet, who will remove it. Once the male has ejaculated he forces a kind of waxy 'plug' into the females vagina to keep the sperm trapped there. This is discarded after a few days, and a shrivelled plug on the floor of the cage is one of the indicators of a successful mating. **** HOW TO CARE FOR YOUR PREGNANT FEMALE If you suspect your female is pregnant, there are a few things you can do to help make her pregnancy as comfortable and trouble free as possible. The pregnancy lasts 11 days
            , around three months, and it's important that she feels as happy and contented as possible. If your home is a bit chilly, you could purchase a nesting box for her. This is a large wooden box divided in two, with a lightbulb in the bottom half. The chinchilla sits in the top half to keep warm. If your house is relatively warm, a normal wooden box will suffice. My chinchilla book recommends a couple of drops of cider vinegar in the chinchillas drinking water. It encourages her to eat more which is good for the baby. Don't be worried if she goes off her food for a few weeks though - this is normal. We fed Freya her normal amount of food plus a couple of extra snack pellets each day, and she was more than happy. During her pregnancy, your chinny won't like being handled and stroked. Try not to bother her too much, and remove her from the cage only when absolutely necessary, when you need to clean the cage, for example. **** BIRTH Most chinchilla births take place in the morning, apparently, and ours was no exception. The female may seem subdued and still for awhile before the actual birth. She'll then start to make squeaking or chirping noises and you'll see her body flexing - unless she's retreated to her box, which is quite likely. The actual birth can last anything from half an hour to several hours, if there is more than one kit. Don't try to assist the female unless she appears to be abandoning the babies, which is rare. If you see the baby or babies lying on the floor of the cage, and the female makes no attempt to look after them, you will have to help them or they'll die. Luckily, this didn't happen in our case, but if it does, remove the baby and place it in warm water to revive it, then rub it gently in a towel. I'd then advise calling a vet as soon as possible to get advice on how to get the mother to accept the baby. When the last baby has b
            een born, the female will produce the afterbirth. She'll probably eat the afterbirth, and this is perfectly normal, although it is a bit gruesome to watch! Chinchillas normally give birth to just one kit, but up to three is normal. And where's the daddy's role in all this? Well, in my Chinchilla book it said that the male plays a big part in the birth and will act as a caring father, but I'm afraid Odin was more interested in getting his end away again the second poor old Freya had given birth! It's an unfortunate fact of nature that the female comes into heat again straight after giving birth, so the best thing you can do is remove the male for a couple of days. This not only prevents a second pregnancy occurring when the female is too weak and vulnerable to cope with it, it gives the female some breathing space and time to get to know her baby. Odin didn't like it, but it was the best thing we could have done at the time. **** CARING FOR THE BABIES The mother will care for the baby or babies and you don't really need to do anything to keep them happy. Chinchilla babies are born with all their fur and teeth and their eyes open, so they're pretty independent little things. And just to prove it, our new addition managed to escape on his third day out of the womb and went for a jaunt around the living room! I only discovered the escapee because I couldn't sleep, went to see if the chins were okay, and heard him snuffling about behind the wall unit! Little devil! We managed to get him back into the cage, and wrapped the entire cage in chicken wire to stop him slipping out between the bars again. You can handle the babies after about a week, their mother won't mind at all. It's a good idea to handle them from an early age, as they're more likely to be well adjusted, tame adult chinchillas. Don't be worried if Mum seems to spend a while away from the baby in another part of t
            he cage, that's perfectly normal, she just wants a break from its demands! **** FINDING THE BABIES A NEW HOME The babies are weaned at around six to eight weeks, but you shouldn't separate them from their mother until they are twelve weeks old, or they may become sick and die. You can advertise for a new home in online publications such as Loot - this is how I found Odin. Make sure the potential owner(s) know enough about chinchillas to offer the baby a secure, loving home. Kids are fine, but I wouldn't recommend offering them to families with really young children, as chinchillas don't take well to rough handling and noise, they can be quite timid. **** AND FINALLY... If you decide to keep or breed chinchillas, have fun! That's what it's all about, at the end of the day. It really is a rewarding and enjoyable process, and one that I'd thoroughly recommend. Oh - and if there's anyone in the London area who'd like a gorgeous baby chinny, our new baby will be looking for a new home around the end of June...!

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              17.02.2002 04:55
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              I have bred dwarf hamsters for 2 years now and the only advice I can give you is never to do it. I started off with 4 and at one stage I had 80 hamsters and no one would take them off my hands. This was a major problem, as I had absolutely no more room in the 5 cages I had. They only seemed to breed endlessly, I separated them but as you know they are escape artists and can get out of almost any spot despite how small. I had to get rid of them some how, so what I ended up doing was keeping them all separated and waiting for the dominant male to take out all other competition. Still I had around 70 left and more babies were being born despite separating them. The pet shop had already purchased a few but after 4 weeks they didn?t want any more and they only accepted a handful. If you don?t have control over the breeding it will become out of control and you will find yourself with more hamsters than you can cope with. Unless you plan what you intend to do before hand then everything will go wrong like it did with me. You must not intend to make money out of this because YOU WON?T. I did it for the money and I lost lots more than I made. Unless you find someone who is willing to take them all the time and not under certain circumstances. If this is okay then you can afford to do it. The best ways to attempt to sell the rodents are to advertise in your local paper offering them at a cheap price. Ask your local garden centre and pet shop if they need any Dwarf Hamsters, if they are in need of some you will find yourself with around £2.50 per hamster which is around half the price they sell them for. If you can afford to keep this up then you will make a bit of money. You must be aware that they breed faster than you can imagine and you are looking 6-12 hamsters in a litter. If this is not controlled you are in serious trouble like me. I had to keep the hamsters, which I could not have sold for a year or two and have had to put up with
              the smell and the living costs of them. Take my advice unless you know what you are doing do not intend to make money out of these as you will soon find out if not planned that everything will go horribly wrong and you will end up loosing more money than you have made. If carefully planned though you could end up making large amounts of money from these breeding machines. Try and tame all of your hamsters as if you don?t then you may find yourself having a problem when cleaning them out as the one vicious one will attempt to bite you with his minute baby teeth while you are trying to clean them out. If it is an un-tame adult then they can pierce the skin so make sure they are controlled and are either separate from the others or tamed. Keep in mind that they are living creatures and do need your full attention if you wish to succeed you must do this. If not fed they will result to cannibalism which will be even worse to clean out and it will smell badly. Use some of the money you make to buy the hamsters something to do and make sure you clean them out regularly. You must think this through before you go through with it or you will end up like me and you and the hamsters will be the only victims.

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                18.11.2001 06:37
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                I've had many rats over many years, and bred quite a few for personal pets. I had a freind who decided that she would get a couple of rats as she liked mine so much, after a week or so, she decided to add another little rat to the cage. The rat was about five weeks old, and was put in the cage with Alfie and Archie. The poor little thing was chased all over the cage, and then to our surprise, mated by archie. The little boy turned out to be a little girl who is now calle Annie (who is now a great grandmother!). Annie gave birth to eleven little baby rats, who were then distributed around family and freinds. OK, now one of these babies was named Teela, Teela was mated by Jeremy, a rat that belongs to me, And gave birth to another eleven baby rats. I think that everyone thought it was going to stop there, being that there were now over twenty rats, but a new rat was bought at a very weak moment of rat cute-ness in a pet shop, and was thought so pretty that a boy was bought to be mated with her, having nine babies to add to the twenty-two that had already been born making thirty-ome babies born. Adding this to the other fifteen rats that had been bought over the past eight months (all rescue rats) and all of my rats, we had a grand total of fifty-six. Most of which was all in a small three bedroomed terrace, in the three bedrooms. One rat, or for that matter five rats make a reletively small amount of noise compared with fifty-six hurtling around an amazing aray of monster cages, churning out sawdust and food as they go. It is wonderful to be able to let a full pack of rats out to handle and play with (what else is good is that they are able to give each other the attention that I would give them, if I only had one), so many people just don't realize how intelligent and playfull they are. But there is one downside to owning plenty of rats, and you have to be able to cope, rats don't live for a very long time, and they are prone to lu
                ng disease, and cancer. The average male rat lives for around two - two and a half years, where-as the female live on average for two and a half - four years (a distinct difference). The trouble is from my experience, about one in five male rats will die from a respiritorty disease before the age of one and a half, and about one in fifteen males will die of cancer before they die of old age. Females seem more prone to cancer though, than they are to respiritory disease, about one in six will get cancer, and about one in ten will suffer from respiritory disease, on the whole though, females seem more resistant to illness, and seem to be able to recover with higher success rates. The other thing to be warey of if you are going to humanely breed, (keeping the unwanted babies rather than culling them[please read dawnfrances's opinion on breading and culling]) is that when one from a litter dies from old age, they all go very quickly (usually males quite some time before the females though), and that factor can be difficult to cope with if you are a rat lover, rather than just a breeder. I now have learnt that it is hard work if you want to look after that many rats, but if you do want alot of rats think carefully, and buy rescue rats, or rats that are being sold for snake food (very cheap rats as live rats are not legaly allowed to be sold as food, so they are just made cheaper than other rats). PEACE AND LOVE 4 RATS LONG LIVE RATS

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                  26.09.2001 00:31
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                  Many people naturally think of going to a breeder when they wish to acquire a new animal. This is not an unreasonable decision. Breeders are often far more knowledgeable about their animals than pet shops, and by and large, keep them in better conditions. Some breeders are great, putting the welfare of their animals at the forefront. But some practice a morally reprehensible act known as culling. Since this op is in the category for small pets I shall use breeders of rats as an example. But please be aware that breeders of all types of animals engage in this practice. Culling involves the deliberate killing of any 'unsuitable' baby animals. The reason?? Because the breeder is trying to perfect a new line and the animals concerned are not the right colour/shape/size etc. The babies are therefore seen as mistakes, byproducts of an experiment in genetic engineering. The breeder has no space or inclination to keep such rejects and in the case of animals such as rodents, which have large litters, it can be difficult to find owners for all the less-than-perfect babies. By now you may be feeling shocked, you may even feel that I am exaggerating a little, or that I am some kind of animal rights fanatic. none of these statements are true. I am an ordinary animal lover who is appalled that life can be so casually created and then discarded on the whim of someone striving to create a super-animal. To illustrate my argument I have chosen a society for British rat keepers known as the Fancy Rat Society. I have kept pet rats for over 9 years and was once a member of the NFRS until I left in disgust and horror. Articles are regularly published in the member's magazine which openly promote the use of culling. In the most recent issue, an article dealing with breeding speaks of the need to 'cull aggressively' in order to create a new line of rats. In my horror I contacted the society who were very patroni
                  zing, told me that they were doing nothing illegal, that they had no official policy regarding culling,and that members of the society are free to write about what they wish. Yet as I see it, any animal organization should put animal welfare as its main priority. Protection of our companion animals, be they pets or breeding stock, is our responsibility. Yet the NFRS freely allows some breeder members to publicly advocate the killing of 'sub-standard' stock. Rather than investigating the practices of such members, it publishes their views. I have been in discussion with the RSPCA on this matter who shared my horror but did confirm that the practice is not illegal. The Chief Veteninary Officer confirmed that as long as the animals do not suffer (i.e. are killed instantly) the breeders can get away with it. The NFRS tries to defend itself by saying that some of the youngsters culled might turn out to be unhealthy because of bad genes. This is a red herring. Believe me when I say the guilty breeders care far more about coat colour than health problems. In any case, if there are so many health risks to baby animals because of a breeding project, the project should not go ahead. IT IS MORALLY WRONG TO CAUSE AN ANIMAL TO FALL PREGNANT, GIVE BIRTH, AND THEN DESTROY THE BABIES BECAUSE THEY MESS UP ONE'S BREEDING PROGRAMME. THIS PRACTICE IS LITTLE MORE THAN VIVISECTION IN DISGUISE. And it's not just rats. A few years ago, when 101 Dalmatians was first being filmed, newspapers picked up on the story that many puppies are killed by their breeders - for not having the 'right' spots. ******WHAT YOU CAN DO********************* I am committed to getting this practice banned in Britain. If you feel as strongly as I do, please consider following these steps: 1. Lobby organizations known to promote culling. Be aware that they will probably deny that they have any culling '
                  policy' but simply allow members to do as they wish. Don't be deterred. Express your disapproval. Tell them you are reporting them to the RSPCA. Ask them exactly HOW they kill their rejects. The NFRS has a website at http://www.nfrs.org. Those wishing to take up the issue of rat culling in particular might want to contact the Society. 2. If you're getting a new pet of any sort, consider supporting a rescue organization rather than giving breeders your money. If you do go to a breeder, make sure you question them closely to see if they practice culling. 3. Write to local and national newspapers with any evidence of culling that you've uncovered. 4. Write to the RSPCA expressing your views on this matter and ask what we can do to outlaw this practice. The RSPCA gave me strong encouragement to use letter-writing as a means of campaigning. If enough letters go to the right people, maybe they will sit up and do something. As a morally accountable human being you cannot throw an animal away because you don't like the way it looks. Please support me in spreading awareness of this issue. Thank you for reading.

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                    20.09.2001 18:56
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                    I have previously written an op on the processes up to the birth of a litter of baby rabbits. This op is intended to give info and opinion on what happens during and after the birth. In general, breeding small pets can result in large litters. I would like to say please do not breed your pet unless you are prepared for it and are happy to look after the young ones, as well as to deal with anything should it go wrong. It's not something you should go into without thinking hard about it beforehand. I only have experience of breeding a rabbit, so will focus on that in this op. Our rabbit was very fidgety last Friday night, thirty days after being mated. I guessed she would be having the babies that night and so prepared myself for an early morning, knowing I would not be able to sleep! I got up at six thirty and crept downstairs. Peeking out of the kitchen window I could see into the hutch. There in the corner opposite the nesting box was a pile of fur, and underneath the fur something was wriggling. Typical that our rabbit chose not to use the nestbox I so lovingly made! She has decided to use it as a toilet instead, so at least it keeps the rest of the hutch a bit cleaner. Our hutch is directly outside our back door, inside a lean to. Our rabbit was scrabbling to get out of the hutch as soon as I went out and as soon as the hutch door was open she was out and running around. She licked my hand for a while and then ran off to play. I took this opportunity to check all was ok with the babies. I didn't want to frighten them or the mother, so I simply lifted a bit of the hay and fur to see what I could see. And there they were. At first I thought there were two, but later discovered it was three babies, all pink and wriggly. I've got to say it felt like when you wake up on Christmas Day and realise there are presents under the tree for you. And yes, it did bring tears to my eyes. I've read that if the babies are born
                    outside of the nestbox they should be moved into it, but after checking that they babies were safe and warm, I decided not to disturb them. If anything is wrong, for example if any of the babies have died, they must be removed immediately. Rabbit births are usually quite quick, but can last up to a couple of hours, depending on how many babies the doe has. When she is giving birth it is best to stay clear and let her get on with it (after all they are able to cope on their own in the wild!), and only intervene if absolutely necessary to save the life of the doe or one of the babies. You may do more harm than good if you interrupt her. There is a possibility during birth that one or more of the babies may be injured and die. Some first time mothers may not realise what is happening and try to pull the babies out with their teeth and claws, usually killing them. Sometimes when the doe bites off the umbilical cord she bites too deep into the baby and it will die. I have to say we were fortunate and our rabbit gave birth to three live babies. We were also fortunate that she cleaned them up nicely and made them a superb nest so when I saw them for the first time they were beautiful. I was dreading seeing things I didn't want to deal with, though I was prepared for it. If you need to touch the babies within the first two weeks you should stroke the mother rabbit and get her scent on your hands first. The babies will smell this on you and it will make them calmer. However, there should only be one person doing this at all times. If the babies are ok they should not be touched until they are fully furred. Believe me it's hard seeing them and not being able to stroke them, but it may frighten them or the mother which can have terrible consequences. If the mother thinks her babies are in danger she may turn on either you, them or both. If she turns on you she will bite and scratch, causing herself to become worried an
                    d upset. When rabbits get scared they thump their back feet. If the mother does this near the babies there is a chance she will stamp on them and kill them. Her aggressiveness is purely her trying to protect her young. Baby rabbits are called kittens. They are born hairless, deaf and blind. After two days they begin to grow their fur. It looks like velvet and feels very soft to the touch. After ten days they will open their eyes and see the big wide world. Rabbits are not like cats or dogs when it comes to motherhood. Because they are hunted by other animals, the mother will stay away from the young, so as not to attract predators to them. Does will tend to nurse the kittens only twice a day and only for five to ten minutes each time. If the babies have full tummies and have enough hay and fur to keep warm, then the doe is doing a good job. We were lucky that Saturday and Sunday were warm days and nights, but yesterday and today were a bit colder, so she has pulled out more fur for their nest. The babies must stay with the mother until they are eight weeks old, but bucks and does must be separated from each other by 12 weeks of age or they may begin to breed amongst themselves. Does should be at least 5 months old before being bred, and brother and sister breedings are not recommended. This was my first experience of breeding bunnies and I feel very fortunate that it has gone so well and that we have three gorgeous tiny bundles to look after. We have a home for one of them, but I know it will be very hard to give him or her up when the time comes. I can't wait to pick them up and cuddle them (only nine days to go) but I know I must, for their safety. The babies are only five days old but already have their own characters. They are very wriggly and do the cutest yawns? I'm sure I could waffle for ages about them, but will leave it here and do some work instead!

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                      20.09.2001 00:48
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                      Rodents and other small animals, having such as a short life span, due to the amount of predators and dangers in the natural worlds, reproduce rapidly. It is possible for one rat to end up with thousands of offspring before it dies, and think how many rats there are. Of course breeding pet rodents and small animals is (or should be) more controlled. From now on I will use rodents to mean all small animals, but scientifically animals such as guinea pigs and rabbits are not rodents but caviamorphs and lagomorphs respectively. Firstly before embarking on a rodent or small animal breeding project is to know that YOU WILL NOT MAKE ANY PROFIT OUT OF IT. The money you get from selling the young makes up for the money spent buying food and bedding for your pets. You need to have enough cages for each male and each pregnant female. The males must be separated otherwise they will fight (due to the rise of hormones in the breeding season), of course you can keep castrated males together throughout the whole year. In most rodents you can keep numerous pregnant females together, but some females may prefer to keep their young on their own and be aggressive to the other kits and mothers. Rodents can normally get through childbirth by themselves, (they did in the wild) so you don't need to help with this. Unless something goes wrong in which case there is not much you can do, but you should call a Vet so the animal does not suffer. Rodents being so small use up alot of body resources into producing their young. When a predator comes they would rather eat their young and regain al that energy, instead of having the predator eating them. This means don't disturb the young for some time (possibly weeks) after birth (with the exception of guinea pigs, whom YOU SHOULD HANDLE STRAIGHT AFTER BIRTH so they will be used to human contact and not run to the other side of the hutch when you open the door). Once the mother all
                      ows you to handle the young, you should do so. You should find out from a book of a specific animal how many weeks you need to wait till you handle them. Well handled pets are easier to sell that untame ones, and if you can't get rid of the young and don't want to keep them you are in big trouble. If you don't like the possibility of this happening, don't breed your pets! Once the young are old enough, remove them from their mother and put them in a cage by themselves. Do this to give the mother rest and to let her regain wait. To sell them put adds in newspapers and plaster posters in the local town halls and shop windows. Most pet shops will put adds up for you, or even buy of you themselves. If you plan to sell to a shopkeeper ask them if they will be willing to accept your young BEFORE you breed. This article is too generalised to be the guide to any breeder of any small animal. Get a book on breeding your specific animal from a pet or book shop. P.S. I have weitten I would not recommend this to a friend because, if you don't want to breed animals in the first place you shouldn't breed them. If you want to breed animals, you shouldn't need persuading. P.S.S. Sorry for the uninventive title.

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