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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 4:30 pm 
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Joined: Tue Apr 18, 2006 2:09 pm
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Location: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
this is a question about diet and cancer but you need some background:

I started my interest in raising rodents when I lived in Alberta where there are no rats allowed. I moved to Saskatchewan (province/state to the East of Alberta) and caught a wild rat and tamed her but she was lonely. I ended up acquiring two domestic rats for free, one of each gender. I was prepared to take care of about 30 rats for their typical 3-4 year lifespan so I thought I would do a side-by-side comparison of a wild and domestic rat litters. Sometimes rodents will hold fertilized eggs in their fallopian tubes while a first batch of babies develop then have a second litter immediately after. I removed the male when the females started gaining weight. They both had double litters resulting in 43 female babies and 6 male babies. I was misinformed about how soon to separate the babies by gender and most of them had double litters too... 3 months in to this little experiment I had 767 rats. I worked at a grain cleaning facility at the time so I was able to acquire about 35 types of seeds that were human-food grade (but not organic). Using laboratory rat nutrient level recommendations, I formulated a seed mixture with the right protein and carbohydrate levels but using over 30 types of seeds. I was getting all my water by rain water collection and boiling it and carbon filtering it (very old wood shingles). Normally rats die of cancer and it is rare for them to exceed 4 years. Mine were all alive and cancer-free to 4 years when my original wild girl died with no sign of cancer (but no way of knowing how old she was when she was caught in a granary). One other rat died in the following year but looked healthy so I assume a heart attack or stroke. 765 rats passed the age of 5 with no cancer. I will spare you the reason they were euthanized (unless you ask) but they greatly avoided the typical cancer.

I have 3 suspected reasons: water that was never chlorinated or fluoridated, food that was made from a wide variety of sources, food that was less then a year old from harvest. The possible things I reject (in this case) are organic food (the seeds were not organically grown), supplements (the rats never got any unless you count healthy seeds like flax), genetics (some would be 100% domestic, some 50% wild, and most would be somewhere in between). What ever the benefits are, they were present at the beginning to get such healthy babies, big litters, double litters, and rather big adult mothers who were bred way too early (within a week of being weened for about 20 of them-everybody was roughly the same weight for their gender). The benefit had to have continued to prevent cancer and to prevent death of any kind for more then 99% of them for almost twice the expected lifespan.

What factors have I not mentioned? What parameters may I have inadvertently followed that could account for this? Of course I want to repeat what ever I did right but for other species that do not eat seeds so I have to be able to take the lessons learned with the rats and apply them to grass eaters and meat eaters.


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PostPosted: Sun Oct 14, 2012 7:02 pm 
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You did not mention the size of their habitat! Also, how did you prevent further litters?
It reminds me of the experiment on mice I did for my son when he was young. The original 3 mice in a terrarium with screen top 18" x 30" x 16" deep, >fed and watered well< (and their litter of wood chips changed often), exploded to near 100 packed next to each other in 3 months or so. Then they began to cannibalize each other massively, until some were euthanized by rocket "accidents", and a few let go into the wild. Some were just murdered by other mice and not eaten much until removed, but most were eaten, showing the vegans turned to omnivores. Thick gloves were needed because they had become savagely hostile and bit much more when their wood shavings were changed, and they had to be put into a large cardboard box, temporarily. The chewed on that, and it had to be replaced before a mass escape could happen. So basically the same results as previous lab studies on mice and rat populations---hostility and cannibalism from overpopulation.
Normally, in the wild, rats and mice never live long, and become prey for numerous animals when they are young, or old and slowing down. They do not get to the point of overcrowding causing cannibalism.
Your nice feeding, pure water and good treatment gave them longer lifespans without cancer. You must have had a large habitat for them!

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"With every decision, think seven generations ahead of the consequences of your actions" Ute rule of life.
“We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors; we borrow it from our children”― Chief Seattle
“Those Who Have the Privilege to Know Have the Duty to Act”…Albert Einstein


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PostPosted: Tue Oct 16, 2012 1:41 pm 
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Location: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
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.


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