While we may have been quiet over the past couple of months, we have been busy behind the scenes working on the SBM Cross-Foster Project. Our process, if the theory proves correct, will not only clear our breeding stock of streptobacillus moniliformis (SBM), the bacteria that causes Rat Bite Fever (RBF), but it should also clear our colonies of other pesky illnesses. While the main goal of the project has been to primarily rid the fancy of SBM, we feel the extra effort and care to minimize these other pathogens will be most beneficial for all.  It is also very encouraging to see progress with our fellow breeders in their attempts to rid the rat fancy of SBM. Some of these projects differ by using repeated rounds of antibiotics; others are naturally clearing through testing and selection. 

During the last week of December, we had a call with our contacts at Charles River to review our procedures and ensure our process was on the right track. They were very impressed and said in some instances we were doing things in a more controlled situation than some lab studies they have read. They helped us hone our timelines and encouraged us to see the project through.

Finally! The stars aligned with our existing stock and clean albinos, and we were able to foster an adorable litter of black and red eyed velveteen Martens (the featured photo and video on the blog post) whose mother tested positive. This litter is now almost two months old; so, we will have our first evidence of whether the theory will work or not in a little over a month. We submitted swabs for their foster mother who tested NEGATIVE meaning the pups have not contaminated the foster doe. We are excited to finally see some results soon! Additionally, we have confirmed the mothers of a DownUnder and a Fawn litter were also positive. These three litters will give us a good idea of whether cross-fostering really works.

So, right now, these are the varieties that have been fostered and hopefully cleared through this project:

  • Black-eyed Siamese carrying Harley
  • Marble
  • Varigated DownUnder
  • Agouti carrying RED and PED
  • Fawn/Silver Fawn/Cinnamon
  • Recessive Blaze
  • Red-eyed and Black-eyed Marten
  • Velveteen
  • Whiteside
  • Dwarf

As for continuing with clean albinos, we had enough first generation babies to allow us to reserve the 4 current second generation litters. These litters will be used to create a control colony of pathogen free rats. Our goal is to start offering “clean” breeding groups to other breeders to help with the cleaning of their stock. We will only be asking a nominal fee for these breeding sets (1 male and 2 females) to help offset our costs for bedding and food. When we start offering these breeding sets, we will publish our procedures for cross-fostering on rattesting.org to help other breeders replicate what we have accomplished.

So, when will we be offering adoptions again? Evolution has begun limited adoptions to experienced/past adopters with the option to test the babies at the adopter’s expense. Oak Grove will start having an extremely limited number of babies available for adoption in the coming weeks. Those babies would primarily be male as that females are the most needed for fostering. Like Evolution, Oak Grove will offer testing to those adopters who feel more comfortable knowing their babies’ statuses. All adoptions will require a signed waiver releasing the ratteries of any liability from a potential RBF exposure.

If you would like to help us with this project, both websites have information on how to make a donation. This project has been riddled with emotion, but with encouragement from Charles River Labs, our previous adopters and YOU, we are determined to see it to a successful end!