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.
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!