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African Soft Furred Rats Care
[ Download from this server (16.0 Kb) ] 2014-01-25, 1:34 PM

Praomys Natalensis - African Soft Furred Rats are quickly becoming a favorite as feeders for small to medium sized snakes, birds of prey, and carnivorous lizards and amphibians. Their small adult size compared to the Norway rat makes them ideal to keep, because they are often the perfect feeding size for months and will not outgrow the feeding limits for most carnivores like a Norway rat will.

They thrive in polygamous colonies, most often consisting of one male and three to five females. If you want to start breeding African Soft Furred rats, make sure these animals are not illegal to own in your state.

They are a serious pest in most of sub-Sahara Africa and it is economically the most detrimental rodent pest to crops and farming. Many states in the US found it appropriate to ban the ownership of these rats based on this and other facts associated with Praomys Natalensis. This is most common in southern and western states of the US.

Scientific Name: Praomys Natalensis, (Mastomys is an outdated term)

Common Name: African Soft Furs, Natal Rats, Multimammate Rat, (Mice is an outdated term)

Average Lifespan: 2-3 years in captivity

Adult Weight: Males: 100- 130g; Females: 90-115g

Litter Size: 3-17;  average is 9-12 per litter. Will decrease with age.

Sexual Maturity: 54-63 days

Gestation: 21-23 days

First Litter: Approx 3.5 months of age. Will be bred again within hours of giving birth.

Menopause: Approx 12-15 mo. of age.

Note: African soft furs cannot reproduce with a rat or mouse.

It is easiest to form a new breeding group when the animals are young, or when the females haven't yet had litters. Once a group is formed and bred, you cannot introduce any new animals without it being immediately attacked and possibly killed by the original members.

Two unrelated males can fight to the death if left together in a group with a small number of females. Father and son, or fraternal relationships seem to not have the same intolerance.

Very few people have successfully fostered mice and other ASF's to a group of nursing females. Be prepared for the loss of any fostered orphans.

ASF's should be given plenty of room to breed. For a group of 1.3, the smallest amount of space I personally give is approx. the same floor space as a ten gallon tank.  The hopper and water bottle is low enough to the ground to allow young pups to reach, but they do not have easy access to chew any of the top of the enclosure. It is also possible to house ASF's in a rack.

ASF's do well fed a quality lab block. Common brands of feed for ASF's include Harlan Teklad, Mazuri, LabDiet, Zeigler and Kent rodent feeds. I use dog food, many people have been using an undedicated hog feed in their colonies. They also enjoy some seeds in their diet. Millet is a favorite of the species, along with black oil sunflower seeds. Corn tends to mold so is best avoided. Black striped sunflower seeds are incredibly high in fat and should be given sparingly.  They will also make use of fruits and vegetables, timothy hay, dog treats, and whole grain products, although the latter should be given as a simple treat and not a steadfast source of food.

Offering untreated wood blocks and paper products to gnaw and shred is favorable but not mandatory.

ASF's are incredibly easy to breed. Simply by putting them together in a group, you don't have to do anything other than provide good husbandry and remove the babies as they reach 4 weeks of age.

Female ASF's are sexually mature at approx. 8-9 weeks of age. This does not mean that a female will get pregnant immediately and have her first litter at 12 weeks of age. Many times, females will not have their first litter until 3-4 months of age.

The pregnancy will last for approx. 21 days. The female can give birth to as few as 4 pinks, or as many as 20+ her first time. After the female has given birth, she will go into heat a few hours later and will be impregnated again. This back to back breeding does not seem inherently detrimental to the female's health or future litter sizes.

All the females in the group will nurse and care for the litters indiscriminately, and you will often see the older pups and the father helping to take care of the pups. The young will sit in one big pile in a corner with an adult spread eagle over the whole group.

Once the ASF are approx. 4 weeks old, remove the young from the group and place them into a different cage/tub. By this time, the female that gave birth to the weaners will very likely already have given birth to her next litter, or will very soon.

Each female has a litter every 4-5 weeks, and if you have 2 or 3 females, that's the very real possibility of having 32-54 rats born every 4-5 weeks, that need to be "grown up" for a little over a month just to reach a common feeding size.

The only hazard with having a female heavy group is the possibility that the older pups will push the pinks down to the bottom of the pile removing them from nutrition and subjecting them to possible suffocation or crushing.

Can you clean an ASF cage when there are babies? Yes! Of course you can!  In my house, the ASF cleaning takes the longest, and here is the reason why, ASF hoppers bolt around the cage avoiding being caught by me. It's cute, but takes a while to grab each rat even when you are grabbing two or three at a time to transport them to their clean tub.

I always have an extra tub on hand, either a temporary tub to hold one of the groups while I clean, or a tub that is already made into a housing tub. It's easier to just move rats once, than to move them all out of their soiled tub into the temporary tub, clean it, refill bedding, then move them all back into their new tub. That's two times your moving the same group, and I always want to minimize stress on the breeding groups.

Line breeding is when the parent animal is bred back to its offspring. Inbreeding is when the siblings are bred to each other. It's my understanding; line breeding would be the smarter choice. This is because the parent will always have genes that its offspring does not have, since a parent gives one half of it's genes, and the other parent gives the second half. Whereas siblings were made from the same parents, they both carry more of the same genes from both the mother and father alike.

The down side to raising ASF's is they take at least month and half (45-60 days) to grow up to feeding size (40-60 grams). This means you're raising a LOT of rats, and the majority of your tubs will be holding tubs.

Category: My files | Added by: Gin
Views: 1206 | Downloads: 27 | Rating: 0.0/0
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