Johhny Electriglide wrote:
You did not mention the size of their habitat! Also, how did you prevent further litters?
I started my interest in raising rodents with gerbils when I got a black one to replace my first rodent pet as an adult (since being a kid on a farm), a black tree squirrel. I learned how to build habitats that prevent fighting by design and provide interesting lives. As the number of species grew, so did the size of the animals. Before the rats, I had 80+ guinea pigs but they all died of a type of bacteria that destroys the intestines and is transmitted by wild mice. I did not figure out what that was until almost 15 years later so I could not stop that at the time (it is resistant to most antibiotics too including the two types I tried). I had lots of guinea pig cages built that hung from the rafters in my basement that were 8 feet long and 2 2/3 feet wide (8'/3). After the first mating of rats who were only a 5 weeks old and the book I had said to separate by 6 weeks... I switched babies so I had one room full of male babies (and their mothers) and another room of female babies. They then were kept in cages in separate rooms. I converted two of these guinea pig cages into two giant cages with about 15-20 levels in them... a giant maze of places to explore. Rats are very social creatures compared to mice. 2/3 of them were female and 1/3 male but males get bigger then females so the resource use was not too much different (how much food and water they used). Exercise and mineral levels and of course lack of sex-drive-based fighting kept everybody nice (they had lots of run wheels, mineral blocks, and no smells from the opposite gender). Every day I would catch everybody, put them in a bucket (two for the females), let them loose in a room one at a time, catch them all, and return them to their cage one-at-a-time. This means I caught them 4 times a day and each time I was bringing them to something good (free time or fresh food in their cage). I did the same with mice I had as pets. This included the roughly 5 mice I caught in live traps per day for a couple years... I had hundreds of them in rather small spaces. Certain individual mice would be more aggressive but I found they got along fine with other aggressive mice. I had two tanks for female mice (aggressive and not) but 4 tanks for the males and euthanized one especially vicious guy when he snuck into gerbil cages and killed mothers and babies (a gerbil is 120 grams and he was about 25 grams)... he did not kill the mice he fought with but killing much bigger gerbils in several cages was proof he was not to be trusted with any other creature. You also need to have the right protein levels. Mice need 18% or they start looking for meat, Rats need 12% and too much protein causes skin problems (looks like scabs). This shows a significant difference with the more omnivore mice.