Gambian Pouched Rat Breeding

Interesting post from a Giant Pouched Rats group that I read, which was from a breeder in Tanzania:

Most of our animals in our breeding group are not breeding regularly as we need more off-springs for replacing old animals and those dropped out from training due to their poor performances. We have another problem to the rats that are trained to detect land mine in the fields. Few of them develop ear lesions (some to cancer state) and the lesions are not responding to any medication (antifungal, viral and antibacterial).

Animals that are used for breeding stock are trapped from different places and the couple is formed using male and female captured from different places (10 – 12 km apart). Female rats captured pregnant, they produce live offsprings of which some of the rats eat their offsprings even when their are not touched by attendants before developing fur allover their bodies. Live ones are left to be lactated by their mothers for 1 – 2 months depending on the healthy status of individuals. At this period males are separated from females and the couple resumes after weaning the offsprings.

When the couple is formed without female being pregnant, it is left for over 6 months for acclimatization of the new environment and each other. If there is no offsprings after that period we change the couples. This system has given positive results for some couples but still others can not give offsprings even for 2 years. They are given pellets made in Belgium and further more are supplemented with vitamins and minerals every 2 weeks. Wheat grains, groundnuts, saddins and ripen banana/apples are also supplemented. The couples are ranging from 50 to 60 but only 10 to 15 can give out the offsprings per year. The range of offsprings is 1 to 4 per couple and majority (2-4). The PROBLEM IS WHY FEW COUPLES ARE GIVING OFF SPRINGS AND NOT ALL OF THEM???????

We have un idea of breeding our animals by using Artificial Insemination (AI) method. We kindly request your comments and experience on this breeding approach.

Interesting – these are terribly difficult animals to breed. Ours were imported from Germany as a breeding pair, never had any offspring although they do mate, and we eventually got them from a rescue when their owner gave up on them ever producing any young. Anansi, the male, is quite interested in mating, and Aja just seems to tolerate him. Mating activity doesn’t seem tied to any cycle or her being “in season” at all.

We do have a problem with Aja being very thin. These are normally very hefty animals (they are raised as meat animals in Africa), but she is very bony even though she eats a great deal. She drinks a LOT of water, which is unusual for giant rats – Anansi never seems to drink at all. Some giant rats get all of their water from the fruit they eat, as he seems to, but she is different. When we first got them we put in a rabbit-sized drinking bottle for them, which neither of them ever used; we weren’t too worried, knowing that these animals can drink very little, but then when we tried her on a ceramic water bowl she went nuts and since then is constantly drinking water whenever awake – Phil wonders if she damaged her kidneys during the period when she wasn’t getting any water at all. She doesn’t seem to have any parasites visible in her droppings, although we should have her tested – I’m just worried about doing it since they aren’t legal here, and I’m assuming were imported from Germany illegally. Even though we got them from a rescue, I would think we would be in a very shaky position. I don’t want to risk a situation where they would be confiscated and killed.

Must have a think about this.

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