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 Post subject: Breeding and birthing - what happens when things go wrong?
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:44 am 
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Fancy Rats Team

Joined: Wed Jul 06, 2011 5:22 pm
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A continuation of this thread on the old forum which was started after a couple of members contacted the admin to suggest that we have an ongoing thread where people can document the negative side of breeding. A reference thread, not so much to say what to do in these awful situations - but rather to give the window into a world where things do sometimes go very badly wrong.

Please add to this thread if you have any experiences you wish to share.

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 Post subject: Re: Breeding and birthing - what happens when things go wron
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:55 am 
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Location: Leeds
I'm glad that this has reappeared, I kept meaning to ask for it to be added.

Anyway, I can tell you about Semper, who was ENORMOUS, and who gave birth on Friday 13th July. I'm not superstitious at all so the date is not significant. Anyway, when we went to check on her that evening she'd had 17, but 7 were dead. The others looked ok but we lost another 2 over the next 24 hours. The remaining 8 have done well and thrived but I was gutted. I hate it when one doesn't make it, as it feels like such a sad waste to me that they've been denied a chance at life, but to lose over half the litter was heartbreaking. It had obviously been a traumatic birth as there was a lot more blood about than we've seen previously. And Semper was hugely defensive of her remaining babies for the first few weeks.

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 Post subject: Re: Breeding and birthing - what happens when things go wron
 Post Posted: Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:16 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:36 pm
Posts: 701
Location: Southampton
I have only recently begun breeding and not had quite the start I was expecting. I'd put a lot of thought into it, got a lot of advise but still thought it would be quite easy.

My first doe took twice, then reabsorbed. It was disappointing but no harm done. We decided that she obviously didn't want babies, so we tried her sister.

The second doe took immediately and became very obviously pregnant. She gave birth early afternoon to about a dozen kittens and after a quick check, we left her to it. A couple of hours later there were only 10 kittens - we were sad at this, but knew it was quite common to loose a couple so didn't worry too much. Early evening and we were down to 8. Checking the kittens, we couldn't see milk bands and worried that the doe wasn't feeding. She was paying them lots of attention though so we kept a close eye on her. Before we went to bed we were down to 4 kittens, but we could see at least one suckling. We had thought that maybe as the weather was very hot, the kittens didn't have the energy to seek out the does nipples. As we'd seen some sign of feeding, we were reluctant to move interfere too much and decided to see how things stood in the morning. By morning we were down to two kittens, both with small milk bands and they were very weak. We managed to find a doe to foster them onto, so Sunday was spent transporting them and waiting impatiently to see if the other doe would feed them. She did, and both had milk bands. Once they were fed they were much more active and vocal so we had a little hope. The owner of the doe very kindly took her out with just the my two a couple of times during the day to make sure they were feeding. Things were looking up slightly, but the little doe kitten only lasted another 24 hours. The other one, a buck, picked up very well and was feeding loads. He had a very full belly and was holding his own in the nest. On Thursday morning (they were born on Saturday) he was found dead, but with an obviously full belly. We'd allowed ourselves to build up hope that he would make it, and the news was a huge blow.

As the last two kittens didn't survive, even though they were being fed, we think there must have been some underlying problem with the litter. The whole week was exhausting and very, very difficult. The whole experience has really made me think hard about whether I want to try again. Luckily the doe was OK, though she did have some discharge for a couple of days which made me panic. It cleared up on ABs, but I honestly couldn't have coped if anything had happened to her as well.

As I said, breeding wasn't something I went into lightly, but I still wasn't prepared for this.

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With the hoard of mischief.......
:rattyrainbow: R.I.P rainbow rats :rattyrainbow:

Milliways Rattery - Breeding for striped roan in agouti & black.


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 Post subject: Re: Breeding and birthing - what happens when things go wron
 Post Posted: Fri Aug 31, 2012 1:16 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2011 9:56 pm
Posts: 49
Location: Finland
I've had lots of healthy litters but I've also lost some does and whole litters.

The first was my beautiful blue doe. She had her first litter for her breeder and some time after that I mated her again to get my second silver blue litter. She was still young enough (~8-9 months) and very healthy and fit. There were no problems in her first litter, all the babies were healthy and well-fed and the birthing was easy.
I used my favourite blue agouti buck and was eagerly waiting for the babies to arrive.
I went to see her on the morning of 22nd day. I spotted some blood on the bedding, but no babies yet, so I left her alone for few hours (thinking she had just started and the first baby would be there shortly).
After few hours there were still no babies but the amount of blood all around was huge. I got worried and took the doe out. She had lots of blood coming out and she felt exhausted and cold. I didn't have a car so I called a friend she should come right away.
I got emergency directions, so I fed the girl some honey+vitamin gel (to help with the exhaustion) and gently stroked her belly (to get the possible stuck baby to move).
It didn't take very long for my friend to come, but by that time there was nothing to be done anymore. She was so weak that cesarean couldn't be done. So I lost her with the babies. It was horrible. If I had noticed earlier that something was wrong she could have lived. :( If I had not mated her at all, she could have lived.
My friend still has some of her progeny from the first litter. They are all siamese now, her first litter was with blue point siamese buck. Her colour was so dark and beautiful that she was used to maybe get some darker point colors for blue point siamese.
I still miss her...

This episode started a whole wave of misfortune. Three does in a row gave birth to a whole litter of dead kittens. It was very hard to collect all the little bodies from the birthing cages. I was thought to have some sort of illness spreading by genital contact. New breeding stock living in completely different cages helped but before that I had to think about the whole breeding thing again.

At the start of this year I got a champagne doe to be mated with my buck from another breeder. We also decided she would give birth here and stay until the babies were 5 weeks. Everything went nice for almost three weeks. Then one morning I found her dead. She had been alright just last night when I gave them freshfoods. It was heartbreaking, babies were trying to get milk from their dead mother. We couldn't find anything wrong with her so the reason for her death stayed unclear. Luckily the babies were old enough to survive without a mother for few days (they got a foster mom later).

I've got roughly 30 litters of my own + about 5 foster litters. Most of them never had any problems at all but it's a statistical fact that some day something will go wrong again. So I cherish every single litter I get. My small miracles. :love:


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 Post subject: Re: Breeding and birthing - what happens when things go wron
 Post Posted: Sat Dec 01, 2012 1:21 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2011 6:08 pm
Posts: 1222
Location: Reading
Not as tragic as the above posts but I have encountered different issues since I started breeding.

The first was simply that a kitten from my first litter was born with water on the brain. Obviously I had planned to breed and as such I had the funds for vetinary treatment, but sadly there wasn't much to be done for him. I had hope at first and invested so much time and love into helping him make it, only for him to go downhill and for me to have to decide that PTS was fairest. It was heartbreaking.

Then I had a foster litter and multiple of the kittens managed to get ringworm! I still don't know how / where from. Anyway, again, this had financial implications with treatment, but also resources as they were typically just at homing age and I had to keep them until they got the all clear!

Lastly, and most stressfully, my second litter was only a small litter of 5. Their mother hadn't been keen on being seperated from her cage mates and wasn't particularly happy in the nesting cage. I think 36 hours after having them she totally rejected the litter. Wouldn't feed them, scattered and ignored them totally. I'm ever so thankful that they had at least had that first day or so of feeding. We would certainly have lost them otherwise. What followed over the next 36-48 hours was incredibly stressful for the doe and for us and hard on her babies. We tried her in a succession of smaller and smaller enclosures so the babies might have the chance to feed. But they were cold and getting weaker and were only really able to feed when we pinned their poor mother down so that she couldn't move at all. It was awful. I was rushing home in every break I got from work to make sure they were warm and to try to feed them. I was also looking for foster mothers and prepared to drive a long way to give the babies a chance. Luckily in a last ditch effort, providing the doe with a cagemate for company suceeded in calming her enough for us to get the babies to feed without pinning her, and her cagemate helped with the cleaning & slowly the doe took to motherhood (I wouldn't encourage this as a rule though as there is every possibility that the cagemate may have harmed the babies, as I said, we were desperate!).

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::Katie::
[Callisto Rats] Breeding for happy, healthy Badger and Variegated rats in Russian Blue, Black & Agouti
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 Post subject: Re: Breeding and birthing - what happens when things go wron
 Post Posted: Sat May 11, 2013 3:12 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:06 pm
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Location: Cornwall
Thought I would add to this although I'm not out of the danger zone yet.

I had my first litter due yesterday. At 6am Daisy had 5 live kittens in an open nest despite building an epic nest in her igloo. At 10am she had more kittens. I noticed a stillborn kitten outside of the nest. I removed the stillborn and noticed some more stillborns in the nest. I removed 12 stillborns in total. I moved daisy to a show tank due to lots of blood and no milk bands. She still took no notice so I moved her to an aldino and put her on a heat pad as the babies were cold. The babies were trying to latch on and she wasn't taking any notice so I went and bought a tiny hamster carrier. I put her and the babies in and left her. She was still taking no notice an hour later so I decided to take her to the vets too get oxytocin put into her to stimulate milk production. I then went out for an hour. I came back and she was disposing of baby number 18 which had clearly got stuck inside of her. She slowly started to nurse the remaining five kittens. She stayed in the tiny carrier overnight and we lost another kitten. She's finally moved to a show tank with her hamster carrier where she is now nursing her 4 kittens that are left.

The oxytocin saved her and her babies lives, the baby left inside could have killed her. She's still struggling with motherhood but she is nursing her kittens. She is exhausted and tired and quite confused. She has lost 14 of the 18 babies so far. She had to be forced to bond with the kittens and I was unable to foster them on due to having a potential virus/bacterial infection.

We aren't out of the danger zone yet, but I am hoping my 4 remaining babies fight and survive :hearts:

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Breeding for Topaz/Agouti rex, Mink/Chocolate and Black/Russian dumbo.
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 Post subject: Re: Breeding and birthing - what happens when things go wron
 Post Posted: Fri May 24, 2013 1:01 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:06 pm
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Location: Cornwall
Amzy wrote:
Thought I would add to this although I'm not out of the danger zone yet.

I had my first litter due yesterday. At 6am Daisy had 5 live kittens in an open nest despite building an epic nest in her igloo. At 10am she had more kittens. I noticed a stillborn kitten outside of the nest. I removed the stillborn and noticed some more stillborns in the nest. I removed 12 stillborns in total. I moved daisy to a show tank due to lots of blood and no milk bands. She still took no notice so I moved her to an aldino and put her on a heat pad as the babies were cold. The babies were trying to latch on and she wasn't taking any notice so I went and bought a tiny hamster carrier. I put her and the babies in and left her. She was still taking no notice an hour later so I decided to take her to the vets too get oxytocin put into her to stimulate milk production. I then went out for an hour. I came back and she was disposing of baby number 18 which had clearly got stuck inside of her. She slowly started to nurse the remaining five kittens. She stayed in the tiny carrier overnight and we lost another kitten. She's finally moved to a show tank with her hamster carrier where she is now nursing her 4 kittens that are left.

The oxytocin saved her and her babies lives, the baby left inside could have killed her. She's still struggling with motherhood but she is nursing her kittens. She is exhausted and tired and quite confused. She has lost 14 of the 18 babies so far. She had to be forced to bond with the kittens and I was unable to foster them on due to having a potential virus/bacterial infection.

We aren't out of the danger zone yet, but I am hoping my 4 remaining babies fight and survive :hearts:


I was right when I said we weren't out of the danger zone yet.

Daisy did well looking after her babies and eventually moved into a show tank where she made a brilliant nest. I noticed one of the baby does looked runty and kept an eye on her. She unfortunately disappeared one night. I then noticed that the other three were starting to look quite scrawny so I kept a very close eye on feeds. I then concluded that Daisy was having problems lactating again so I took her to the vets to get more oxytocin and subcut fluids into the babies. The next morning the other doe baby had given up and I was left with the two bucks. I decided to try and handrear the last two bucks. They both had resp infections. The first buck gave up the that night and the last remaining buck gave up his fight the following afternoon.

This was not how I ever expected my first litter to be.

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Breeding for Topaz/Agouti rex, Mink/Chocolate and Black/Russian dumbo.
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 Post subject: Re: Breeding and birthing - what happens when things go wron
 Post Posted: Fri May 24, 2013 4:01 am 
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Joined: Wed May 09, 2012 10:48 pm
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I'm so sorry Amzy, that is terrible to hear :-(

Luckily I've never had any major problems, they usually birth when I'm out. I've had 4 litters over all my years of keeping rats, the last 3 litter there have been no deaths, litter of 16, 13 and 12. However my first ever litter the mother gave birth to 12 babies but 4 for them were stillborn, after I removed them she had no problems with the remaining 8 and they all grew and flourished into adulthood. I guess I've been very lucky, the mother of my first litter lived very long as well just other 3 years, she didn't have/get any tumors and just simply died one day after a week of getting a little weaker. Her name was Vyvyan and I loved her very much she had so much character.


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 Post subject: Re: Breeding and birthing - what happens when things go wron
 Post Posted: Sun Sep 15, 2013 7:33 pm 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:31 pm
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Location: Leeds
We've just found one of our 4 week old kittens dead and partly eaten. Absolutely devastated. You kind of assume that once they're through the first few days they'll be ok.

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 Post subject: Re: Breeding and birthing - what happens when things go wron
 Post Posted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 9:05 am 
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Joined: Sun Aug 14, 2011 7:09 pm
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Location: Forest of Dean
I'm really sorry Kate. I lost one of my last litter at 7 weeks, it was only due to chance that she was still with me and hasn't gone to her new home yet.
Xxxxxxxx

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 Post subject: Re: Breeding and birthing - what happens when things go wron
 Post Posted: Mon Sep 16, 2013 5:06 pm 
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I'm just so sorry Amzy, Kate and Nelly.

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 Post subject: Re: Breeding and birthing - what happens when things go wron
 Post Posted: Wed Jan 15, 2014 7:35 pm 
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Location: Cornwall
I had two does due on the 25th/26th December, a Topaz (Dizzy) and an agouti (Trinket). Both fairly young active fit does both met the same buck. Both does became rounder, and both made nests. Day 22 and 23 passed and on Day 24 I was starting to become a little concerned, I was reassured that maybe they had both delayed implantation. At around 3pmish, Dizzy went into labour, I left her alone, but kept an eye. An hour later Dizzy was pushing and pushing, and started to look like she was really struggling. I left them both for a little longer. When I next went in around 30 mins later Dizzy was still pushing and pushing. I noticed Trinket was giving birth, but couldn't quite see into her igloo, so left her to it. I was becoming increasingly concerned as Dizzy was so exhausted. Dizzy fell asleep where she was for 30 - 45 minutes. At this point I noticed Trinket was disposing of a baby, but by this point I was just relieved that they were coming out.

After speaking to a few rat friends ( :hearts: ) it was advised that I took Dizzy to the vets, given she was still in labour but too exhausted to push anymore. As I was putting Dizzy into the carrier, Trinket was out and about. I checked her igloo and there was a huge dead baby in there. I decided to take Trinket along to the vets for a checkover to.

At the vets it was clear Dizzy was still contracting, and the vet could still feel a baby in Trinket. Both rats were given Oxytocin. The Oxytocin had no affect on Trinket but Dizzy eventually gave birth to a dead baby. A while later nothing was happening still so the vet gave them both another injection of Oxytocin. A while later Dizzy gave birth to a baby, which was alive. The Oxytocin still had no affect on Trinket. By this point Dizzy was shattered, still contracting and completely exhausted. The vet decided to perform a C-section on Dizzy. I remained in the consult room with Dizzy's alive baby. No further babies were found in Dizzy.

Trinket was still not contracting, and was now in season. The vet basically said "with any other animal I'd perform a C-section on her to", so off Trinket went to have a C-section also. There was one baby in Trinket which was dead.

All in all, Trinket had 3 babies, Dizzy had 2. Both does were exhausted. Dizzy's baby girl died shortly after. For the next 24 hours both does required round the clock TLC as they would not eat or drink unaided.

I didn't really fancy writing this all out, as it was an emotional time, and not something I want to remember. I want to highlight the risks of pregnancy and birthing. I nearly lost two of my does through something I put them through. I wasn't worried about the financial implications, but I would have never forgiven myself if those does died that day.

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Breeding for Topaz/Agouti rex, Mink/Chocolate and Black/Russian dumbo.
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 Post subject: Re: Breeding and birthing - what happens when things go wron
 Post Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 12:39 am 
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Joined: Wed Aug 10, 2011 12:16 pm
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Amzy, that's awful :( You've had such a hard time, which really is unfair considering how much time, research, dedication etc you've put in. How unfair that people who don't actually care seem to skate through sometimes, yet those who are dedicated for ethical reasons have to experience this.

Just goes to show that breeding is never guaranteed to be safe, despite how carefully selected the rats are, etc.

But glad that you're sharing your experiences, so that people who are considering breeding can see that it doesn't always result in cute ickle babies, and happy healthy rats.

*Hugs*

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 Post subject: Re: Breeding and birthing - what happens when things go wron
 Post Posted: Thu Jan 16, 2014 8:05 am 
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Location: Plymouth, Devon
Amy thank you for sharing. What a difficult sad and awful time for you to go through and to describe.

I know how much thought, how much research you put into these pairings. Breeding is not something to go into lightly, for fun etc - things can and do go wrong even when you think and re-think every aspect of it, when you know the rats, their line, health, genetics. I'm so sorry that these pregnancies ended up this way

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 Post subject: Re: Breeding and birthing - what happens when things go wron
 Post Posted: Wed May 21, 2014 3:10 pm 
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Joined: Wed May 21, 2014 1:47 pm
Posts: 5
Location: Greater Manchester
I just want to thank those who have posted here, this thread has been very enlightening and as a prospective breeder I am grateful that the 'darker' side so to speak, of breeding is here for me to read so I can fully prepare myself.

I am so sorry for all the losses that have occured :hearts: :cry:

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