This article is from the Summer 1999 AFRMA Rat & Mouse Tales news-magazine.
Leslei Gagnon, Mira Loma, CA
Q I would like a pointer on how to assign litter numbers like you do. My best bet is to visit your rattery, but that isn’t possible right now. I have some litters and I am running out of names for all the critters. How do I start the sequences of litters? Do you separate all the males and such, so that animals of the same color don’t get mixed up? I know most of my rats by the characteristics of each, but now and then it’s tough to be sure. What would be the better idea to start this? I downloaded the RatBase data system from one of the rat web pages, and I think it is usable, but sometimes keeping it “simple” is not my better suit. Do you use a computer to keep your records or just a notebook and pen?
A I give each litter a number in chronological order – your first litter is number 1, the next number 2, etc. Then within each litter I give males alpha letters and females numerals (e.g., KK1604-1 for a female, KK1604-A for a male). Purebred English mice get an “E” and Satin animals get an “S” letter (e.g. KKE1633-A, KKS1557-2). Other people I know use the date of birth as their number, or use an abbreviation of what they are as the ID number. You can still name them if you want and have an ID number for them. I keep a Litter Record in the critter room that has the number of the litter, dam, sire, date born, number born, number lived, number male, number female, any kept of males or females, and remarks/comments for each litter (see litter record).
|Animal’s Cage Tag:
ES1557-2 PEW Satin
E1572-A PEW Std.
To house them, I keep different colors together so I don’t have to mark them to tell them apart. I keep a tag on the cage for each animal that has its information—number, what it is, then the number and type of the mom, date of birth, number in litter, and the dad’s number and type. If I keep more than one male from say a Siamese, I don’t worry about who is A, B, and C unless there is a definite difference in color. When it comes time to breed them then the best is A, the next best is B, etc.
I use the computer to print out the pedigrees, which includes an area for the animal’s information, litters, shows, and pedigree, but all the information is put in manually. I keep a copy of the pedigree for each animal I sell so if anyone loses the pedigree, I can easily make a copy of the copy I kept—sure saves having to rewrite all that information. I started inputting all my records a couple of years ago to use in a computer data base but never got the time to finish. So my litter records are still done with paper and pencil. There are many computer pedigree programs out there, so it is a matter of what works best for you.
A I had a hard time keeping track of my animals using a number system so I bought a little baby name book at the grocery store and just started going down the list. I put the abbreviation for my stud name before each name (MM Adlai) and then go from there. If you can’t stand having a zillion “A” names all at once you might try going through the book by taking the first A name, then the first B name, etc. until you get to Z, and then start over with the second A name and so on. Right now I’m at MM Clotilda for female mice and MM Beau for male mice. I am going in reverse for my rats (DRP Yonah and DRP Winiwini) so things don’t get confused. What I did when I was using a number system was to abbreviate all of the breed, variety and section names to a single letter so that I could look at the mouse’s designation and know exactly what kind of mouse it was. That went as follows:
Example: MM-EA-NLS 379 is an English American Crossbred Satin Long Hair Self and is # 379 of 413 mice to have been raised by Moon Mice (MM).
You could also try the abbreviations with a name attached to the end instead of a number (MM-EA-NLS George) for a more personalized designation.
This system could be adapted for use with rats simply enough, or perhaps with this information you can better design a system of your own.
A As far as a number/ID system, what I use is very simple. It works for me because of the very small number of litters I have.
For rats I give every litter a letter. My first litter was the “A” litter, and this last litter of Siamese was the “W” litter. (10 years, 23 litters, sounds about right) Each baby is assigned a number starting with my stud name “TR” then the litter letter “W” then the total number of babies in the litter “8” then a “-” then each baby is assigned its own number (say “5”). Therefore, the seal point boy I kept from this last litter is TRW8-5. I don’t use this number as a part of the rat’s name, I simply put it on the paperwork that goes with each baby. This way if there is ever a question about one of the babies, all I need is its litter letter and I can immediately go to its litter record and look up all I need to know about it. Once I have run completely through the alphabet, I will start over with double letters (after “Z” comes “AA”). This works well for someone who breeds very small numbers, and who wants very detailed records.
For mice I use something different. For every litter I fill out a 3x5 card recording date of birth, parents, color of babies, etc. I file these in a box by date. Each baby in the litter is given a number based on the date of birth using more or less the same formula as I use for the rats. I use my stud name “TR,” the date “5/31/99,” and then assign each baby a number. An example might be TR5/12/99-3. Once again, I don’t usually use the number as part of the name, and because of my small numbers, this system works well for me.
A I use 3x5 plain index cards which I fold in half and put in a plastic name badge holder with the clip and attach to one of the feeder/water bottle hangers that are on the outside of the tank.
I write the rat’s color, variety, sex, date of birth, and name if it has one on the top of the card and then the rat’s mother’s information and father’s information.
Also, on a female’s card, I keep track of who she was bred to, when she had the babies, and how many.
When I make out a pedigree (I use the club’s generic pedigree form available in the Sales Catalog), if a rat doesn’t have a name, I will use their birthdate for the ID.
If two litters were born the same day it was never a problem keeping track because the mothers were usually different, i.e. Dalmatian, Agouti, etc. Even when they were the same I would write down more detail in their description on the cards.
I hardly breed anymore so it is very easy to keep track of the litters born and the information.
Note: These records and others are available for your use to download. See the Record Keeping section.