This article is from the WSSF 2004 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
By Karen Robbins
|There are additional steps to take after the initial 2-week quarantine period.|
Now that your animals have passed the quarantine phase without any sickness, you are ready to place them into your colony. If you are just returning from a show and only have your show stock that you had taken in quarantine, then it is safe to place them back into your rattery/mousery. However, if you have brought in new stock, there are other steps you need to take before introducing them to your existing animals.
If you have purchased new animals, whether it is from a fellow breeder, pet shop, rescue, or imported stock from another state or country, then there is additional time involved in the quarantine process before you can sound the “all clear” and you know it is safe to introduce these new animals to your colony. Remember, the stress of coming to their new home can bring out any disease/illness they are carrying, so this quarantine time is extremely important to do. Don’t forget to have separate food, bedding, cages, water bottles, cleaning supplies, etc., for the animals in quarantine. Also, you should be in the habit of caring for the quarantined stock after you care for your existing stock and change your clothes and shower after you care for the quarantined animals. Many illnesses can be carried on your clothes and transmitted that way to your original stock.
Once they have passed the 2 week time and there is no illness and they all seem happy and healthy, you will then begin the slow process of introducing them to your animals before bringing them into your rattery/mousery.
To begin, get some “test” animals from your existing ones and place them in their cage next to the new animals in their cage. Choose animals that if they get sick or die by being exposed to the same air space as the new ones, it won’t wipe out your breeding program. After a minimum of 2 weeks of being side by side, breathing the same air and being cared for the same, if there are no illnesses, then you can place the new and old animals together in one cage. Thoroughly clean/wash out the cage, houses, toys, water bottles, dishes, etc., before placing the animals in it. Use vanilla extract or other strong-smelling safe substance on the top of their nose and at the genital area if there are conflicts during the initial introduction. After 2 more weeks and if all goes well, you can try introducing a few more of your existing animals to the quarantine area and repeat the process. After a couple more weeks of this introduction and all is well, then you can place the new animals into your rattery/mousery.
If you have animals for sale from your existing stock during this time, make sure they have not been in contact in any way with the new animals in quarantine. You don’t want to potentially infect anyone else’s animals by selling animals that could possibly carry new diseases.
Another way to tell if the new animals have any viruses or bacteria, is to get serology (blood tests) done to determine what they carry. You should also get serology done on your existing animals or have done it in the recent past so you know what they carry. You can then compare the two results together to see if there are any differences between the two. If there are, you will need to research the viruses/bacteria and determine if the differences are of a major threat or if by gradual introduction, the animals will adapt without any undue illness or death.