There is a shameful practice that exists around the world and that is the breeding of animals. A good and moral alternative to breeding animals of any kind is adopting those animals that are alive now and desperately in need of homes. So often people buy animals from pet stores or other sources, and when they are unable to keep them for whatever reason, they give them away. Frequently, rats are routinely surrendered to animal shelters which aren’t that familiar with rodents so shelter staff destroy them.
Tragically, another common problem is rats being advertised on Craig’s List. It goes like this: a family can’t keep their rats so they advertise them on Craig’s List as “free to a good home.” Usually, within hours, several people who own snakes have already answered the advertisement saying that they “love rats and will provide a good loving home” when in actuality they are trollers who regularly check Craig’s List looking for free snake food. Sadly, there are not nearly enough rat rescue organizations in existence today, and those that do exist are turning away rats left and right because they have no room available to take in more. Just because rats are tiny does NOT mean they are disposable. You can save the life of these wonderful rats by opening your home and heart to them rather than breeding more
But, if you must proceed with breeding there are important things you should know. Female rats should not be bred from until they are at least three months old. There should be a space of at least two months between litters (starting after the last litter is weaned), to allow the mother to regain her strength after bearing and nursing a litter. Lastly, each female should not be bred more than two or three times in her lifetime. A female comes to the end of her breeding cycle at about 18 months of age, so it is not a good idea to breed her after that time. Litter sizes will decrease as her fertility wanes, and there could be complications.
Breeding; however, is not something to be taken lightly, by any means. Breeding any animal responsibly means making an effort to improve the species as a whole, not just to make more animals. This particularly applies to rats. If you are considering breeding, it is important to know rat genetics, have a breeding goal that involves improving the species, mentoring with a reputable breeder, and starting with good breeding stock from a reputable breeder. Pet store rats are NOT breeding material. You need to know the health and temperament history of your rat's line, going back several generations, including extended family, before you think about breeding him or her. Breeding is a monumental responsibility, and requires a lot of dedication and hard thinking before you begin. But, we hope and pray you will NOT begin.