All posts by Connie

August 2020 Update!

working on da site

Aug 4, 2020 – If you’ve visited us recently (as in more recent than 2017), our site was a little messed up.

We’re working on applying a new theme that is hopefully easier for us to keep up to date. We’ll continue to fix our broken links and galleries, as we do a some lovely pictures for you all to check out.

We still actively respond to email, so feel free to ask us anything!

February 2020 Update!

Feb 23, 2020 – Hey everybody! Long time no post! Do people even keep snakes anymore?!? Joking aside, this sure hasn’t been updated in a long time but is probably still helpful to some people so we keep paying the dues to keep this site up and running (with tape and sticks).

Updates: We did finally remove the ASF rat breeder page as it seemed very out of date and a few emailed us asking for their names removed. We’ve killed the page just to make sure.

We do still have a few snakes left, and plan to probably reduce down to maybe 1 or 2 keepers, but largely are now out of the reptile husbandry.

That’s it for now! Our email is still active so feel free to reach out. Cheers!

Sept 2017 – No more rats!

Sept 21, 2017 Hi everyone,
Beginning in 2006, we’ve always had some rodents in the house. Either as pets, or feeders, or both. As of earlier this year, we no longer breed any rats. It has also been several years since we kept ASF rats either. All we have left are probably house mice and our two big boy pet rats (Biggs and Wedge).

I have updated all of the rat pages to note that we no longer keep rats; hence why this post.

We occasionally get emails asking for pet rats, and we even provided some as pets to local people. But we just made the decision to switch completely over to frozen thawed for the snakes.

Please feel free to continue to send in your comments or questions. We still love to know what people think of the website. Even though a lot of the cost data is very old and out of date, we know that we still get a lot of visitors and hope the rodent pages here continue to help people who want to breed.

Best of luck!

avatar :: Connie

And the winner is….

Ahoy! We have an official pairing in the super black department! Our boy Onyx went nuts one day a few weeks ago, so I opened the girls cages around him, and he immediately was on the hunt. He chose our super black girl Makura and began to court her right there, by the next morning they were locked, and stayed locked for at least 2 days from what I could see. I didn’t get the camera down there, but I will try to get them back together again and see this pairing through.

 

Short tail breeding plans

Ahoy, Connie here.

I’m not certain who I’m going to pair up this year, but it’s a close tie between Jade and one of our super black girls. The only male we have (which is sad since our other male is possibly a female!) is our light headed male that came from the same litter as our black headed female Jade, so he should be compatible with the super blacks. BUT I might have to think about this pairing below a bit longer… Just imagine, pure black bloods!

 

Onyx Makura

Black bloods breeding!

Guess what? Got a lock between our black bloods! The female is blue in this picture (so sorry it is such a horrible picture), she was our first Sumatran short tailed python, and the guy she is paired up with came with her. We bought both from Jeff Hartwig, he has some of the darkest black bloods around.

Here are better pictures of these two (but, not the best, sorry!)

   

 

 

All about the White ASF rat!


(Pictures used with permission from Stefan K. from ratfrett.jimdo.com)

I had the oppourtunity to discuss the amazing snow white ASF (vzm) rat with Stefan from Germany! Although he has since moved on to other endevours, he was gracious enough to answer some questions I had for him regarding the genetics and breeding for the elusive high-white ASF.


First, some explanatory remarks from Stefan:

I use this gene code:
Agouti: +
Cinnamon: b/b
Argente: p/p
Ruby Eyed: r/r
Silver Fawn: b/b p/p
 
I use these names for the different White variations:
Platinum: White rat with black eyes, black ears (B/B) or gray ears (B/b)
High White: White rat with black Eyes and white ears (b/B)
PEW: White rat with pink eyes and white ears (p/p)
 
I have no experience in breeding Ruby Eyed. I assume that this is a new variety based on a recessive dilution. If anybody has Ruby Eyed rats with b/b or p/p, please send me a picture!

Find more on Stefan’s website at ratfrett.jimdo.com

1. Can I get some of your background? What first interested you in the African Soft furred rat?

I needed some company for my single fancy mouse buck (male). Many German websites and forums recommended Mastomys as great fellows. So I got my first group from an [exotic animals expo] especially for reptiles in 2002.

2. How long have you been breeding small mammals?

I began breeding fancy mice in 2003. I met some people who wanted to build the first German community of mouse fanciers. We decided to found a club and agreed upon a breeding standard. A [little while] later I bought some fancy rats and started colour breeding. Rearing other exotic mice wasn’t something I would call “breeding”.

3. What other species do you own?

At the moment I am breeding Mastomys and Campbell’s Dwarf Hamsters. I also keep Deer Mice (Peromyscus maniculatus). Deer Mice are not often kept in Germany. I think I am the only fancier who has offspring for sale.

4. Let’s discuss the high white ASF. Are they your creation, or did you learn about them someplace in your readings?

I got my first platinum ASF rat in 2004 from a animal dealer in Netherlands. These have actually been the first white Mastomys I have ever seen (and they’ve been the last for three years). My specimen was very small and did not mate. In 2007 a friend of mine gave me a little group and I decided to breed with them.

 

5. How many generations did it take to get the high-white ASF?

When you mean the Whites with white ears? It took me two generations by using a Platinum male and a Headspotted Cinnamon female and inbreeding the F1.

6. Do you have any insight into the genetics behind the high white appearance?

In my opinion the Whites (regardless which ears or eye color) only evolve from two pied alleles and a special modifying gene, that is obviously only found in Europe. This modifier maximizes the white of the pied ASF so that the offspring are clean white, or with only little coloured spots in the neck. These spots are very insistent and appear on and off.

I believe that the platinum modifier is diluting the colored coat areas: A white rat that has one white eared and one black eared parent has grey ears. I would take the non-white counterparts of these (Agouti and Cinnamon) the offspring has black ears.

7. Can we discuss your opinion about a special gene? Do you believe it is easily identified just by looking at the rat that it is a carrier for the gene?

When you mean the special modifying gene of Platinum mice: I don’t know. I have never seen Solid Agouti rats with a platinum-gene.

 

8. Can you give an example of how you have bred the high-white into the other base colors? For example, a Fawn crossed with the H-W (high-white) to make essentially a Pink Eyed White rat?

In my case a Pink Eyed White came up in a litter randomly. I did not know that my mice had a heterogous Pink-Eyed-Gene. But it is very easy to combine Platinum/High White with argente or silver fawn. Just like I described it in question 5. It doesn’t matter if you take rats with or without bb (brown lightening/brightening). The results are simply snowy white rats with pink eyes.

9. Speaking of base colors, do you also share my opinion that there are 4 colors of ASF’s available? What are they named in Europe or your native language?

Yes I think we have four base colours. but I am not sure if the new “Ruby Eyed” are a new variety. I have never seen one and I don’t know if anybody did test breedings to find out how this colour behaves in combination with others. German breeders do not have a common nomenclature for the colour varieties and their genes. We call the wild type (very dark, greyish-brown looking, black ticking, black ears and eyes) “Agouti”.

The brightening/lightening (?) gene is mostly called “Cinnamon”. I don’t think the name fits but I don’t know a better word.

For the two red-eyed varieties (Agouti + pink eyes and Cinnamon + pink eyes) I do not know any popular name. Most breeders and keepers do not differenciate between these colours. Looking at the british nomenclature of fancy mice breeds I propose the symbol b/b for for the Cinnamon Gene and the symbol p/p for Pink Eyed Gene. The fancy mice with the gene code p/p are in europe called “Argente”. Fancy Rats with b/b p/p are in Europe often called “Silver Fawn”. So I would propose Argente (p/p) and Silver Fawn (b/b p/p) as declaration for the two pink eyed colors of Mastomys.

10. What are the names of the H-W on the different colors? I have heard of Platinum to describe the H-W on the wild Agouti color, is it different for Cinnamon?

The first whites in Mastomys came from Agoutis and have black eyes and black ears. I think a German breeder called them “Platinum” (named after the black eared white variety of pet pygmy hedgehogs) and this name is common in Germany and the Netherlands. But only for the black eared variety.

I chose the name “High White” to label the dark eyed whites with white ears (b/b). There was no other name known before (in 2009)… We know the term “High White” from snake varieties.

Between breeders and keepers of ASF rats this name is not well known and there isn’t agreement about the nomenclature of the different white combinations. I would propose the names:
      Platinum (for a White Agouti): white coat, black eyes and black ears
      High White (for a White Cinnamon): white coat, dark/ruby Eyes and white ears
      PEW (White Argente or Fawn): white coat, pink eyes and white ears.

I think there’s no need to differenciate the PEW with b/b and the PEW with B/-. They look the same. Breeders of other species (fancy mice) also call white mice with red eyes “PEW” (and there are many combinations that produce PEW).

11. Do you have any advice for other breeders working towards the H-W rat?

My advice is very simple: Take time and be strict: The main criteria for a good selection are healthy and friendly mice. The color is coming on their own.
I am ready to help if there’s any question. (I will answer much faster in German than in English).


There you have it! The high-white ASF should not seem so far fetched now ;). From Stefans explanations, it does appear that there is a European gene that can easily be bred for HW ASF. I’m always interested to know if anyone in the US has this variety, or what they believe may carry the gene. Perhaps we will be able to import this variety someday? Who knows!

Thanks again to Stefan for being so patient, since I took almost a full year to get this posted on our website!

Please feel free to comment or reply by email.

:: Connie

Work work… and more work

 

Maybe some of you forum go-ers have noticed a marked emptiness in the kingdom of words.

I've been absent from my normal forum, Ball-pythons.net, but I have a perfectly good reason. I've been working my ass off.

Yes, that is usually how things go, but do not despair, my S.O. Chris keeps me up to date on the latest and greatest happenings.

I'm sure he thinks that I am lazy and don't want to get online, this is mostly true. I sit in front of a computer all day, please don't hold it against me that I am not ready to jump right back online again and delve into the stress of the forum life.

I have very much enjoyed my absense from the online world, where I can now take on other means of destress and creativity. For instance, crochet. Ha, didn't know I enjoyed crochet, but apparently I do.

As an update for the breeding of the Black Bloods, not a whole lot has been happening so far. Chris and I have a bit of a bet, and It's looking like next year, he has to do things MY way. 😀 Fear not friends, they will breed someday, and we will have some super fantastic super blacks available for sale.

For now, peace.

:: Connie

ASF Breeders

If you haven't had the chance to check it out yet, here is a link to our ASF Breeders page.

ASF Breeders **NEW!**

And here is why to use this page. 🙂

I am pleased to announce that we will be hosting an ASF Breeders listing on our website. We are not in competition with any person or forum, but want to offer this for informational purposes. You are invited to be a part of this listing and I do hope you join.

Over the past year, our website has grown to be one of the top search engine results for African soft furred rats, with 58% of our new traffic coming through search engines alone. This is a globally reached site, with hits coming in from 38 different countries, and easily reaching between 600 and 800 visits per month. We are currently forecasting 630 views will be rolling in each of the comings months ahead to the end of the year.

Since we have a strong share in the search engine market, we would like to help out fellow ASF Breeders get their names to those interested parties looking to buy ASF rats.

Whether you only sell a few a year, or if you run your own small feeder business, we would like to get your name added.

This is totally FREE, we do not expect anything in return, but we certainly appreciate recriprocal linking back to our website.

There is currently no limit on the size of the listing, but please include all pertinent information that you would like to see posted. They can always be changed and updated, so please do not hesitate to email me. 

I must note that this really is a cautionary venture, and if it doesn't work out (flame wars, bad vibes, drive by's) we can remove the listing for the best interest of those involved, but I want to see this be a success, and I wan't you to ride on those waves too!

PUT DOWN S. 373!!


"The National Python & Boa ban upon passage would immediately ban the import, export, and movement from state to state of Indian Pythons, Burmese Pythons, African Rock Pythons, Green Anacondas, Yellow Anacondas, and Boa Constrictors."

"December 10, 2009 Wilmington, NC-

Driven by powerful special interests and much media sensation S. 373 aka ‘The Python Ban’ is likely to move forward despite lack of scientific justification. Pushed by Sponsor Senator Bill Nelson and the Humane Society of the United States S. 373 could devastate the trade in high quality captive bred reptiles in the United States.

Today the Senate Committee on the Environment & Public Works (EPW) will hold a business meeting on S. 373. The Committee Chair is Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and the Ranking Member is Senator James Inhofe (R-OK). The committee will hold a mark up session where they will consider S. 373, to amend title 18, United States Code, to add constrictor snakes of the species Python genera to the Injurious Wildlife list of the Lacey Act. The committee is expected to amend the bill to include the 9 snakes listed on a recent controversial report by the US Geological Survey (USGS). All tolled the bill could stop the import, export and interstate transport of as many as 45 species of Boas and Pythons.

The USGS report being used to justify these extreme measures has been called into question by a group of independent scientists in a letter to the EPW Committee on November 24, 2009. The letter characterized the USGS report as “not a bona-fide scientific paper”. The US Department of the Interior (DOI) and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) stand by the report and have recommended to the committee that all 9 snakes reviewed should be included by amendment to S. 373. The independent scientists, who include professors from University of Florida, Arizona State University, Texas A&M and The National Geographic Society, go further to state, “this document is not suitable as the basis for legislative or regulatory policies, as its content is not based on best science practices”

The United States Association of Reptile Keepers (USARK) made an agreement in principle with Senator Bill Nelson’s office to limit the damage to a 3 billion dollar a year trade in these reptiles, but was informed yesterday that the agreement would not be honored. Senator Nelson has justified his position based on the recommendations made in regards to the USGS report by USFWS and DOI. Andrew Wyatt, president of USARK, commented that “it is a real shame that Senator Nelson has changed his position on this issue”. If the bill passes approximately 4 million boas and pythons already in captivity would be rendered valueless overnight with no provisions for disposition or compensation. Wyatt added, “it could create a situation where millions of people will be in possession of injurious wildlife. It is ludicrous to put so many law abiding citizens in that position and diminish the Lacey Act for the sake of political expediency.”

Passage of S. 373 would result in the loss of thousands of American jobs bankrupting an entire industry. Without strong evidence to support the injurious wildlife listing, USARK calls on the Senate EPW Committee to give an unfavorable rating to S. 373.

Contact:

Andrew Wyatt
president@usark.org"

Downsizing the African Soft Furreds

If you've never been bursting at the seams with rats, then I think I might envy you.

It seems so often that we rat breeders never have enough product to meet demands. Demands from our collection is certainly the highest, but there also comes from time to time, a request for a large number of rats for a customer. It always seems like I never can produce enough to feed my own group of animals, but then to turn around and supply someone else.

Then it gets to be time to make a decision. Take into account the needs of your own animals to feed. What is our goal?

Our goal here at MMX is to ultimately produce and sell ball pythons, blood pythons, and maybe down the line, corns and Brazilian rainbow boas.

To have an edge in the market, we need to make sure we can give our customers the best animal we can. Once aspect of this is having the animal imprinted on a readily available food type. African soft furs are not what I would consider "readily available". In some densly populated areas of the country, it can be easier to get African soft furs to begin breeding your own, but at the same time, it is very rare to see them in a Pet Food store, much less for sale as a feeder animal.

Secondly, our goal is to run our business as profitably as we can. I am convinced that raising African soft furred rats is far more expensive than their more common counterpart, the Domestic Norway Rat.

This may not be true for everyone. Certainly, if you have only a need to feed off small prey items, the ASF can easily fill that void, but for anyone who is trying to feed breeding female ball pythons that can take a larger meal, or trying to feed the ravenous fat sausages that are blood pythons, then the small snack of an ASF seems so much more inefficient.

You may say, "Connie, just feed off multiples". I would reply, "Tell Chris to spend even longer in the snake room feeding multiply little meals!"

What this all boils down to is simple; increase our Norway rat production, and we are doing just that. We are growing our rat colony by 3 times it's size to fill the gap the ASF's had in our colony. Chris has begun switching our animals over the the Rats, we are optimizing our turnaround rates, our space management, and also, downsizing our ASF colony.

We used to run with 6 groups of ASFs, generally a 1.3-1.5 across the board. At the same time we are downsizing, we are also cycling and holding back new groups.

I think I may have over estimated our needs for hold backs, over the past several weeks, we have 4 colonies still going, and no one eating enough to make a dent in the numbers we have. We are literally running out of room!!!

So, check for it soon, there may be bags of small to medium sized ASF's going up for sale within the next two weeks as we cut our production, and once we successfully have all of our animals over to domestic rats, we will be selling ASF's full time for our customers.


That's a win-win right?

ASF Breeders

This has been a long pondered issue. Should this site include any links to ASF owners and breeders? At first, I did not believe it was necessary or justified, but with the expansion of interest in the African soft furred rat and the sparce availability, I've decided I will begin to take admissions. 

I will not monitor this as a "board of inquiry" and any flammatory comments or inquiries will be deleted without notice. This listing will only serve as a list of contacts who are willing to sell ASF stock; and yes, I can and will censor this listing if I feel it is in the best interest of this site, it's owners and users.

This is a temporary project, and I will reserve the right to take it down if I feel it is for the best. But if it works, and if it provides people with ASF contacts or breeders, than it may stay up. Until then… Just leave a comment or send an email to mmx@metalmonkeyexotics.com. Please give me as much information as possible in your request and I will notify you once the listing has been approved.

I will begin accepting for the USA, Canada, Europe.

Are you as sad as I am?

We did not go to Tinley this year. Even up until the last moment, which would have been 10 in the morning on Saturday, we decided to not go.

It’s okay though, we have next year!!!

Chris has started pairing up animals, and there are two animals in particular that I am SUPER STOKED ABOUT!!!! I will post some pictures soon, but I may wait a while just to tease you blog readers! 😀 (not to mention, blogging is hard to do when work is so busy!)

Alrighty, check in soon, maybe we will be blessed with a lock picture during the next week.

::Connie

Remember me?!

Hello my long lost blog friends, Connie returns after a long hiatus, and I finally have something in store for you rat people!

Remember these guys?

Used with permission of M. Richter ©
 M. Richter ©

Of course you do! Who wouldn’t remember the pure white African soft furred rats found (so far) only in Europe? Well, I have been able to get in touch with one of these ASF breeders in Germany with the pure white ASF’s, Stefan, and I am hoping to get some of his input (and beautiful photography ;)) on the breeding for the high white ASF rats.

Do we in America have the right gene’s to attempt breeding? How white can the American lines get? We will find out soon enough. I have my own small bits of high white groups I am attempting to work with, we will see how far I can get, and what I may be lacking in my own colonies preventing me from getting to that summit of a pure snow white ASF rat.

Check back in a few weeks, see where I have gotten with the article, and hopefully enjoy some good pictures. 🙂

Continue reading Remember me?!

I’ve been proven wrong

I know I’ve been seriously slacking with blog updates, but you’d think Chris would find something to write here, now wouldn’t you? 🙂

Work has been crazy for me these past few weeks, and when I get home, I find I can’t muster up a little bit of energy to write about anything snake related. On our side of the world, things have been relatively uneventful these past few weeks.

Chris did build a new 41qt breeder rack last weekend. Turned out costing far more than it should have. He feels he should have just built one at the shop from aluminum instead. While I think the metal racks are very nice, it takes forever for him to get around to building it! I often say, Chris flip flops more than a politician. Ha! I’ll more than likely get a picture up of the new rack shortly. It was nice to move the Brazilian rainbow boas into their new larger tubs. They appreciated it!

Now the next big TO-DO is mustering up some cash for purchasing new Boaphile caging for the bloods. Every one of them has grown so much in the past year, it’s time to upgrade!

I know you may have wondered how I was proven wrong. I’m not often proven wrong in our house, but Chris has almost 98% proven me wrong. You may remember a few weeks ago, I declared that we were only getting one clutch of eggs this year…. well, it does appear out Hypo female has ovulated and just had her POS (post ovulation shed) last weekend! This is exciting news for us, that means we have a 50% chance for each egg to contain a hypo or pastel! And something like a 1 in 4 chance any of the eggs could end up being a hypo pastel! Ah! The egg-citment is really strong with this one.

We got pippers!

Chris and I are happy to show off the little ball pythons that just began to emerge from the egg, and a little pastel pipping!

 

Monkey Mailbag #2 – ASF pups weaning

http://www.flickr.com/photos/flydime/
Uploaded on March 13, 2008 by flydime


Hi, I breed natal rats and have a question about them. When the pups are 3 weeks old they start licking the parents mouth, why do they do this? Is it to learn what is safe to eat?
 
My original 2 breeding pairs I got when they were 5 days old, I hand feed them with an eyedropper every 3 hours for over 2 weeks. I not sure if I just lucked out on having friendly ones or if me raising them made them so nice. I have not had any bad behavior from any of my natals, I sell them as pets and everyone who gets them are so happy with them. Mine are just little sweeties.

Hello,

Yes, I would definitely say your observations are correct, and the pups are learning what is good to eat, although I think observing it at 3 weeks of age may just be a coincidence since I have observed the pups eating and drinking before their eyes are open, right around 2 weeks of age. While they are not ready to stop nursing, it’s not uncommon to see them eating the food that is small and crumbled. Domestic rats can often be seen sticking their noses by another rat’s mouth, and they will grab the food or use the smell for reference on what is good to eat and seek out that "good" food.

I strongly believe it is easier to work with the animals if they are handled daily from a very young age, this is reflected in domestic rats as well, while personality is somewhat inheritable (nervous animals tend to have nervous offspring) I personally feel that consistent daily interaction creates an ASF that will welcome handling by humans in their own quirky way.

That said, I wouldn’t tell anyone that the breeding of these two tame parent animals, will automatically create offspring just as tame as the parents unless the young is also interacted with as heavily as the parents we’re. It just doesn’t seem the ASF are completely domesticated like domestic norway rats, given that domestic norway rats have been bred for centuries, and ASF are fairly new in comparison.

I hope I might have answered a question or two, these rats are quite interesting little animals, and it’s nice to see there are folks out there working to create a pet quality ASF, perhaps North America will catch up with Europe in that regards!

:: Connie