As of July 28th 2021 we have tested NEGATIVE for Rat Bite Fever (Streptobacillus moniliformis).
We are currently awaiting serology test results for the following: Hantavirus, Sendai, SDAV, PCAR, CarB, ECUN, MPUL, KRV, and IDIR. This serology panel includes the most major health risks to people and rats.
What am I testing for?
Testing is done through Charles River Labs. They send me a testing kit and I take samples and send them in to be tested. The two packages I have chosen are:
Please see this info page for a short summary of each one: Rattesting.org
1. Rat Bite Fever (RBF) - Streptobacillus Moniliformis. $95 a test.
RBF is a zoonotic illness that is a health risk to humans. While it is called rat BITE fever, it actually can be spread through saliva, urine, and feces. It can be dangerous and even fatal if not caught quickly enough or for those with a compromised immune system.
While this can be fairly common in wild rodents, it generally is not found in pet rats. But sadly most likely because of wild contamination, many rat breeders were testing positive.
2. Serology Panel- Rat Breeder Assessment. $75.60
This panel tests for the most serious and dangerous health risks to both humans and rats. These include:
HANT (Seoul Hantavirus)- contagious to humans. See my post on this here.
LCMV- (Lymphocytic Choriomeningitis)
Risk to Immunocompetent:
SDAV- (Sialodacryoadenitis Virus)
Risk to Immunocompromised
CarB- (Car Bacillus)
ECUN- (Encephalitozoon Cuniculi)
IDIR- (Rat Rotavirus)
Little Risk to well cared for rats
MPUL- (Mycoplasma Pulmonis)
KRV- (Rat Parvo Virus)
This information was gathered from the website rattesting.org & criver.com with much thanks!
Why am I testing?
The most important thing to me is the health of my animals and the health and welfare of those I sell to.
I feel I can not truly say I breed for health if I am not doing anything in my power to make sure that my animals are truly healthy and free of any illnesses.
By not testing I would just be allowing my own ignorance to rule and keep myself in the dark and that is so unfair to my adopters and to the animals. Ignoring the issue doesn't make it go away. This is also a huge issue in the amazing rat community that I love, if I continued to breed animals that have are positive I would be continuing to spread this throughout the community which is just awful on so many levels.
Some people may dismiss them as having low risk and low mortality rate so it is no big deal. But as a breeder, I care about the health of the animals and can not on good conscious risk the lives of adopters even with low risk. Compare it to something like toxoplasmosis which can be quite common in cats. Even if many cats have it, I wouldn't continue to sell and breed mine with it. That does not seem ethical in any way to me. I wouldn't just pretend it didn't exist if I didn't test either.
Things like these are what separates breeders who truly care about their animals and adopters and who truly breed for health and the species and those who are backyard breeder types who only breed for cute babies and their own selfish wants.
I demand I do better.
Testing is expensive. We do not make very much money selling rats. I barely can cover expenses! I have balanced out my prices to help cover expenses. I hope my adopters can understand and feel it is worth the price for peace of mind!
In the future, I will only bring in health-tested rats and/or test them while they are in quarantine before mixing them with my rats.
I will only sell to other breeders who have tested their rats and tested negative.
I will still sell to adopters who have rats and have not tested as long as they understand the risks and agree. This will break my health guarantee and will mean no refunds will be given, Animals returned to me will stay in quarantine.
I will still continue to have a closed rattery for my own rats protection.
Pet Owners wanting to test:
Please visit this website and under breeder resources, it has all the info on how to test.
Do I recommend it?
If anyone in your household or who has access to the rats has health issues, a compromised immune system, is very young or old it could definitely be worth testing to rule out any issues. I definitely recommend buying only from negative breeders in that case.
At the end of the day, it is your decision. No one else can really tell you what to do, it is not a cheap process and that is understandable. If you do not wish to test I would recommend not bringing in new rats until yours have passed, then properly deep cleaning everything and buying from a breeder who has tested negative.