Monkey Mailbag #2 – ASF pups weaning
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.


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

Monkey Mailbag #1 – ASF rat litter loss

Uploaded on April 27, 2008 by wwarby via
by wwarby via

Alright, I probably won’t use that name for this new segment, but I thought it might be useful to post up a Q&A segment using real questions we’ve received.

Today’s subject:

Unexplained ASF rat litter loss

I have a 1.5 group of ASFs that have started to breed. There are 2 females that are large enough, and have been breeding. As of yesterday, one female had a litter of 8 3-day-old babies. The other had a litter of 9 3-WEEK-old babies. I started to notice the female with the older babies has spent less time with her babies and hardly make any effort to "protect" them when I am around. This left the other mom to take care of the bad mom’s babies.

Today I came in and every single one of the 3 day old babies were gone and, as usual, the 3 week old babies were attached to the wrong mom.  This is my guess… Because only one mom was taking care of them all, only one of the litters of babies could survive, and, of course, the older ones were the strongest and so the smaller ones were killed. Is that right? And if that’s the case, should I use one of the babies for a future breeder and get rid of the bad mom?
My second problem is that I have had them since April 14th. All of the males are obviously of breeding size. But out of 11 females, only 2 are visibly pregnant for the first time, and 2 more are breeding (but had no more than 2 litters). The rest seem much too small still. I feed them Mazuri rodent food (5663, I think? Not the 6f or 9f because it is not available in my area) with some fresh baby greens as an occasional treat.

My response:

Hi, I would like to point out that if the older pups were 3 weeks of age, they have already begun to eat and drink regular water and food. However, if they are on the smaller side, they will still drink (or try to) from the females.

The ASF females (and males) all care for the pups indiscriminately… meaning that it’s not uncommon to see each female caring for the others. I would be worried more so if this was not the case, because then one female wouldn’t be helping out, which obviously isn’t in the best interest of the success of the pups.

I have however seen that if the females are not synced closely in their litter timing, the older pups have a detrimental effect on any pinks that are born after them. If the dates are close, like within a week and half, the success of the younger pinks is much higher. But as the gap grows, the chances of the younger pinks being pushed away from the females teats, and possibly crushed/suffocated is significantly higher.

This is a situation I have seen in my colony of 4-5 females. The girls we’re all different ages and were on different schedules, which led to the higher pink mortality than in my groups of 2 or 3 females.

I personally wean my pups when they are 3 weeks old. This is decided by the presence of the new litter from their mother, or just eye balling them and picking out the older ones if it’s difficult to tell which female has given birth recently. The females have litters every 21-23 days, the pups are completely ready to be weaned after this amount of time passes. They will weigh anywhere from 7-19 grams. Obviously, it’s your call if you feel they are not ready to be weaned, I have skipped a week if I feel they aren’t big enough.

As to your pregnancy problems, try making the group sizes smaller. I have found the best ratio to be at 1.2 or 1.3. It seems the male is able to get these girls pregnant a lot faster. If it helps any, I seem to always only have 2 females pregnant in my 1.4-5 groups. I put that ratio together as a test of sorts, and I have recently decided to just stick with the 1.2-3’s from now on.

If you find that they still don’t get pregnant, get rid of the females and start over with young girls again, you can keep the same males. Sometimes it just takes a while to find a good group, so don’t feel bad about getting rid of ones that aren’t producing for you.

I hope this helps.

 Uploaded on April 27, 2008 by wwarby via :: Connie

Not this saturday, but next saturday

And we get to cut some eggs!!!!!

Cross all crossables for at least ONE pastel! *crossing fingers*

I love hatching season. If it we’re up to me, I would keep every single animal we produce here, but I know that is not possible. (I can try though! hahaha, don’t tell Chris that.)

We’ve been candling the little suckers a few times, and 2 have been very obvious. Our ugly egg we can’t see in very well, but it’s still hanging in there, so we’ll see what it’s holding.

As an update again, our very sick female rat has completely recovered and successfully birthed 12 pinks, 3 still born, and lost one since then.  

That’s about it from me for now, check out Vida Preciosa’s blog entry, and drool at the gorgeous little super blacks in their eggs. 😀


It’s hatching season!!

©MetalMonkeyExotics 2009And every one is gearing up for expos and shows all around the country. We went down to the Michigan Taylor show this past weekend and we’re able to meet a friend and moderator from the forum It was a great turn out, compared to the low amount of vendors this past June. It was great to meet FrankyKeno and her family, I hope she is happy with the rats!!

This year, it doesn’t look too hot for us in the hatching arena. With only 3 eggs on the ground, it was a very disappointing turn out.

But, along with the hatching season, we are already thinking about who we will be pairing up for the 2010 season. I personally believe we will be pairing up two exceptional Sumatran short-tailed pythons this year. I am giddy just thinking about it. You won’t believe your eyes when you see this pair, we haven’t posted any pictures of them yet, but if you’re really determined, the clues are around the web.

If you are into the ‘black bloods’, keep checking back for more information as we get closer to the fall season. While I hope we can start pairing them up in November, there is always the chance they get put together later… or sooner. 😉

That’s all for now. If any of you we’re concerned about my female rat that was terribly ill in the last post, she has fully recovered with help from being kept warm, given lots of liquids, baby food and rest. She is also looking very pregnant too! We’ll see if she ends up birthing in the next two weeks.


:: Connie

It’s been a while…

Author ©Chris Gladis…Since my last post here. Work has had me swamped lately and I’m not really willing to jump right back online at the end of the busy day. So, I’ve been out of touch with the online world lately except to answer emails and a few PM’s from forums. It’s all good, Chris and I had a nice long weekend, and I even took an extra day for just myself to recoup. It was good!

We recently had a middle aged norway rat here get quite ill. I checked on her Thursday of last week, she was scheduled to have a litter. Instead, she was cool to the touch, wobbly, thin, it makes me feel so terrible to find them like this. It always seems to happen on weeks that I skip checking everyone individually. Her water nozzle worked, she had loads of food, I don’t know how she got sick.

The worst part about finding her like this was because we recently had a mouse in the house I caught a few days ago. I don’t know how he got in, but we did get him in the trap after seeing signs (mouse poo, chewed wood). For people that don’t know, wild mice is probably the most dangerous thing to a rat colony.  Mice can carry the Sendai virus, which will pass through a rat colony efficiently and likely kill most of your rats. Yes, I was very worried. Luckily, mice tend to avoid rats because rats hunt and eat mice in the wild. Mice will go out of their way to avoid any areas that smell like rats.

I was ready to put her to sleep, but she is a wonderful female and mother. I hate to see them suffer, so this was a very tough call to make. It is always a tough call to make.

We removed her to a nursery tub away from the colony, she was given water in a bowl because she could hardly move. I fed her baby foods and put a heating pad on the side of her tub to keep it near 80 F. She was dehydrated, she likely didn’t have strength to reach the water nozzle, but the next day, she was doing better. Her ears were flushed and she slept most of the time.

I’ve monitored her progress through the weekend and put tight quarantine between her and my colony, which will remain for a month if possible. She has recovered very well, not completely better, but better than she was. She is bored, so I do plan on giving her a young weaner as a companion. It will also serve as a test to see if she had a virus or not. We will know in a few days.

She does continue to have weakness in her back legs, she is only a little over a year old so this is not normal to see. I plan to have her out today to check her motor skills and play with her.

So, that’ what’s going on here lately. We still plan on going to Taylor this weekend the 11th. Feel free to email or call about the date.

:: Connie






Which pet is more dangerous?

Uploaded on October 7, 2007 by JS NorthThe vast majority of snakes kept as pets in this country and around the world are completely harmless. The vast majority of pythons kept as pets are small species that never exceed 6 foot in length and rarely even that much. There has never been a single recorded or anecdotal incident of a ball python killing someone, despite the millions of them kept as pets. Contrast that with dogs who injure and kill people every year. And even cats sometimes inflict serious injury or kill an infant. Should we ban all dog or cat ownership because of a relative few irresponsible people and some unavoidable accidents?

Also, the vast majority of pet snakes kept across the country could never survive if released into their local environment, much less breed and successfully multiply. What has happened in Florida should be dealt with in Florida. Creating national legislation that treats all snakes and exotic pets as equally dangerous and equally capable of "invading" our environments is preposterous.

I’m participate in a website called This is a forum setting that specializes in teaching people how to care for their reptile pets. We have over 12,000 registered members with hundreds and hundreds that participate every single day.

As people who enjoy and appreciate snakes (and other reptiles) as pets, we come in all shapes and sizes. Personally, I am a white collar business woman. I currently own 40+ snakes, and would own more if my lifestyle did not make it impractical to do so at this time.

Should those who appreciate and keep reptiles be shown such disrespect and disregard of our rights?

If politicians are to ban animals due to their danger potential, whether to humans or our environment, compare the domestic dog to reptiles. (The following statistics were compiled from the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association (APPMA) 2007-2008 National Pet Owners Survey.)

1 out of every 16 dogs bites a human. With 783,000+ bites requiring medical attention. 30+ people die from dog attacks every year. There are a reported 4.7 million dog bites, which is the average for the US every year. Those are startling figures and eye opening, yet no one is out to ban dogs.

In the US, there are a reported 11 million reptiles in homes. There was recently (7/09) a death of a child by a large constrictor due to reckless, illegal and irresponsible ownership resulting in the escape of the python. According to the Humane Society of the United States, since 1980, there have only been 12 deaths involving pythons, a couple of those deaths were related to zoos and had nothing to do with pet ownership.

12 deaths in almost 30 years certainly is tragic, but far better than 900 deaths of dog bite victims from the past 30 years.

12 deaths from the past 30 years is a testament to the seriousness and personal responsibility that python keepers exercise in the care of their animals.

So, why is their an effort attempting to ban the ownership of snakes and other reptiles when our dogs cause so much more injury and death to both humans and native fauna and flora?

I don’t support HR 669 or any bill that attempts to remove reptiles from our homes. I hope you have the clarity and don’t carry any prejudgments brought about by exaggerated media reports and irrational fears. This is America, don’t ban reptiles or snakes based on emotion, personal disgust, media, or biased reports that have been repeatedly rebutted by respected scientists, herpetologists and herpteculturists that work with these animals everyday.


Respectfully yours,


(This post was put together by borrowing words from Adam Wysocki at and Judy Clothier from, and throwing in a couple of my own. Many thanks to them for inspiring it, feel free to share it.)