Monday, July 25, 2011

Making A Cage!/I'm Crazy!

Making A Cage!

I'm renovating a storage tub to be a multi-level home for our little ones. I'm going to see about combining it with the fabric bin and using the trunk as the new fabric bin. That way there is even more room for play, not only for them but for me! Plus, the storage bin has a lid I can modify to have an open top. The trunk doesn't. I'm also cleaning out the big ones' cage soon. I've been foggy-headed all day. I had such a hard time going to sleep last night I thought it might never happen. What is it with this selective insomnia crap?!
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I'm Crazy!

I have this idea, it's an odd one, but bear with me. I want to domesticate rats. You're in your head saying, "uh, Cami, already been done, you have four as pets to prove it," and to that I say, correct. But the ones I have with Ben are brown rats. Rattus Norvegicus (Norway Rat), they are the typical barn/sewer rats people complain about and call exterminators for. Well, at least here where it gets cooler.

The ones I want to domesticate are black rats. Rattus Rattus, they are known as roof/tree/black rats. They also get the exterminator called on them.

If you know anything about rats you know they come in so many colors and marking combinations that it will make your head spin trying to calculate just how many are possible. That's if you limit it to show standard. Of which there are 18 colors give or take, 13 markings give or take and 7 different coat types. Combine this with the fact that the rats can be standard or dumbo.. and things get even more complicated. (The reason it's give or take is because show standards sometimes change from year to year.)

Now, to think about how many cute little faces are out there is just... cutely awe inspiring. Any responsible rat breeder will tell you breeding is done for health and behavior. Domestication is, mostly, a process of selective breeding. In Russia they started a project roughly fifty years ago domesticating foxes. They chose silver foxes that were not aggressive and bred them to simulate what they think happened with wolves in domestication to dogs. What they've found is that when you choose for "tameness" after a while you end up with things like white fur and curly tails, traits that are not native to the foxes they started breeding. So what I'm saying is that when domesticating rats it would be a process of choosing which ones are calm around humans and which ones are hand-tamed the quickest or start out hand-friendly. Then to breed those boys and girls then, once the second generation is mature, to start the process over again. Pick the ones that are less wild than the rest of the generation and breed them. It could turn up incredible results. Not only in appearance but in health and behavior as well.

It would have to be done every generation for quite a few years. Rats generally live for 2-4 years on average and wild rats reach sexual maturity at 12 weeks in comparison with current pet rats at five weeks.

I know it would take years and a build up of funds (ask any responsible rat breeder and they'll tell you they rarely break even on a litter let alone make any actual money.. being profit is not and should never be the goal). I think it would probably take 10-13 generations before any "pet-able" rats were born. It may happen sooner or later, but probably not much sooner.

Now, why would I want to do this? I care about the animals. So much that if a wild rat plopped itself in my living room today, I'd give it food and a nest box for a few days and release it into the metro park, right next to the creek that runs through it. That and the fact that it could prove to be a very unique and fulfilling experience. There would be so much knowledge to gain and share that I can't even imagine it right now. It would be something that I could do and be proud of. I don't know how easy or difficult domestication will be, but anyone who says, "_______ can't be done," is really saying, "I've given up."

I'd rather have a failure to learn from than to give up on a dream. Call me crazy, lofty and a dreamer.. you'll be absolutely correct.

G'mornin, g'night or g'day

Afterthought: What are your dreams?