Yesterday was one of the toughest days we have had since we started breeding. We had to say goodbye to a quarter of our babies. Oak Grove has tested positive for Streptobacillus Moniliformis (SBM), the bacteria responsible for Rat Bite Fever (RBF). When we started the rattery in the end of 2019, we made the decision to be responsible and test for the serious illnesses that could impact our adopters. Over the last couple of months while working with peer breeders to raise awareness of the importance of health testing of rat colonies (, we discovered that SBM wasn’t being tested for as we assumed.


What do we know for pet owners? SBM is present in FRESH saliva, urine, and feces. Labs have shown that this bacteria doesn’t live long outside of the host. So, keeping your cages and enrichment items thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis – how you should anyways – reduces the risk of transmission to your household. That means that aside from being bitten, transmission would most likely come from dirty hands or kisses from the fur babies (don’t let them be your dentist – Google rodentistry if you dare). 


Rat Bite Fever can clear the body on its own, but at worst case if caught soon, can be treated with antibiotics. A very low percentage of rat owners tend to get symptoms and an even lower percentage end up being hospitalized. So, use smart pet handling protocols and keep their environment clean. Below is an infographic on the signs and symptoms of RBF. If you or any of your family show these symptoms, especially after a potential bite, please see your family doctor as soon as possible.


If the symptoms get severe, go immediately to the emergency room. Children and the immunocompromised are at most risk to see symptoms. Since many providers might not be familiar with this bacteria and how to test for it, the below link is the CDC’s information for health professionals.


We have spent the days since getting our test results in trying to determine the way forward for us. First, we think it is very important to try to rid the Fancy Rat of RBM, if possible. As more and more breeders got positive results, many of us joined together to create the Coalition for the Preservation of Fancy Rat Genetics ( This group of breeders will be utilizing an untested theory from Charles River Laboratories to try to repopulate rat breeders with healthy rats. Oak Grove will be a major player in this effort.


So, what does this news mean for our rattery? For the foreseeable future, we will NOT be offering the public babies for adoption. Many of you will want to reach out to “save” babies and take on the liability yourselves. While we admire that sentiment, we just have not settled that logic within our own morals and ethics set. After we continue to research this bacteria and know more, that position may change. So, if you don’t have an APPROVED adoption application as of today, we will not adopting rats out for a while. This decision does not mean we are closing our rattery or will stop breeding. We will have plenty of work to do to save the Fancy Rat!


What can you do to help this effort? You can head to to make a monetary donation. The Coalition will be holding auctions to raise money (this will be an expensive endeavor). Head to that Facebook group, join, and watch for those auctions! Also, you can make a more direct impact on Oak Grove if you would like. At our current level, we use about 100 pounds of food and about 12 bails of pine bedding a month. Without adoptions coming in, direct donations will be greatly appreciated.


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This journey is not taking us where we thought it would. This last few days has been really painful in grasping the reality of what this zoonotic agent means for us and for the rat fancy in general. We will stay strong. We will research and learn. We will get through this storm and be stronger on the other side. For now, Baby Yoda (thank you many times over Trisha K) watches over the rattery every day. The Force is with us, it is!