So I thought I would write a little something on Manx because there is a lot of misconceptions and wrong ideas that are spread and kept alive for some reason on this variety. The one reason I like to share so much about Manx is because there are so many misconceptions and I hope to try to change that and educate.
First of all, what is Manx?
Manx is a tailless variety. They are born either without tails or with only stubs of tails of varying lengths. This really just depends on the line and randomness.
They are named after the cat which also is born without a tail. The cats are named after the Isle of Man, The people there are called manx!
There are also tailless mice!
How do you get Manx rats?
It's all in the genetics! But at this time we are not 100% sure of the genetics behind Manx. It's a bit of a mystery. We know that it is recessive which means it can be carried without being expressed. But we also believe that there is another gene that needs to be added to make it. So maybe it needs like one part of A and two parts of B for it to be expressed. We're just not really sure what A equals yet lol
And yes this is very frustrating for breeders who wish to breed for it, because it's not just a simple recessive.
So to explain this to a non-breeder....
Dumbo is a normal recessive gene. In order to get Dumbo rats, you need two copies of the Dumbo gene; one from each parent. So the parents either have to be Dumbo or carry the Dumbo Gene.
If you breed two dumbos together you will get all dumbo babies. But if you breed two manx together it's possible (and even very likely) to still get no Manx babies!
But Manx is carried in lines as it will pop up repeatedly.
Which is the case for me!
As you may have heard me say ad nauseam, I do not breed for Manx. I only breed things that I love and I'm passionate about. And I think Manx looks goofy lol, No offense to those who love them! It's just not for me.
So I have zero interest in working with or breeding Manx. But I cannot stress it enough that I do not breed for it simply because it does not interest me not because I feel like there's anything wrong with it.
I have never as of this moment, bred any Manx.
But Manx is carried in one of my best and longest established lines.
Can't you just remove it from the line?
Someone recently asked me this question. And the answer is not really. It's not that easy.
If you read above you will see that it's not just a simple recessive. Now recessives by themselves are insanely difficult to just remove. They are carried like little invisible bags of surprises to later jump out years down the line and drive you insane lol As breeders we can have a love/hate relationship with recessives!
So add on a layer of mystery that comes with Manx and..... I'm sure you get the point!
I can breed away from it by not breeding any Manx back into the line. I can try to work away from it but it might still be there carried in the line waiting to pop up when I least expect it! And I am ok with that, it really doesn't bother me a whole lot. The only break issue I have is when I am looking for something specific, like a male Downunder blackeyed marten and the only one they give me is a manx.... grrr!
Breeding Manx is wrong and unethical!
I get this comment ALOT! So much so that you would think I would stop posting any images of them ever because people are really mean!
But I really do like to educate and I hate it when there are so many misconceptions on something that's just not true. If I can change just one person's mind I think it's worth taking all the mean hateful comments.
First I'd like to say that whenever we are breeding anything as a pet we are making changes to that animal. We have domesticated them and change them so now they are different from their wild cousins. Our pet rats are the exact same species as brown/norway rats. The only difference is our pets are domesticated.
And in this process of domestication, we have changed fundamentally the animals themselves. We've taken away hormonal and aggression issues. Made them trusting of us, etc... It's not all about just slapping on a fancy new color lol we're actually changing these animals!
We take away things that make them good in the wild and instead change it to make them good pets.
For example, my dog is 10 lbs, she is tiny! Her name is Trixie! She is a wonderful pet but she would probably not survive in the wild at all! My cats are bigger than her. I actually watched a tv show once about what would happen if all humans disappeared and they said small dogs would be at a huge disadvantage.....
Another example is that my rats are not afraid of cats because they grew up in a house full of cats. In the wild, that's pretty dangerous. Even my mice are not very afraid of cats. One time one of my mice got loose and it ran away from me and ran...to the....cat.....
Thankfully I caught it and no harm was done to it. The cat has lost its survival skills as well lol Most cats have not though so be careful!
My point is when making arguments about how making changes to an animal can be harmful we need to think about is it harmful to a PET? If while living a nice spoiled and comfy pet life, is it going to cause harm or lower its quality of life?
In my honest opinion, Manx has no different quality of life than a standard rat in any way.
Manx causes no pain.
The animal can fully care for itself.
Go to the bathroom normally.
Is perfectly mobile.
I have a little checklist on if an animal has a high quality of life or not and Manx meets every example of a high thriving normal quality of life.
The very first time I had Manx pop up in my lines I was shocked! I didn't know much about them I had heard the same rumors that everybody else had heard and so I went to the actual SOURCE. I talked to breeders of Manx, and those that own them.
And this is a key point that a lot of people miss. This is actually a tragic issue within pet communities all the time. One person or a website will say something and it gets repeated and repeated and repeated until every group you join just automatically says it because everybody who's joined that group has heard it. We get told something when we are new and we want to be helpful so we repeat it.
But it doesn't mean it's true. And often the stuff is not true. Don't just repeat something you were told as if it is gospel, question things! Ask how and why? People have to question things. Ask why how....?
And so I did just that. I talked to people whom I knew and trusted and respected and who had actual hands-on experience.
And I'm sure many pet owners don't realize this but breeder groups are blatantly honest. We share our darkest moments with each other. We share our silly stupid mistakes. We laugh and cry together. It's an amazing community!
And they shared all their positives and negatives with me.
And from my own experience, I've owned six of them now in a relatively short amount of time.
I can say with confidence that Manx, in itself, has zero quality of life issues or problems whatsoever.
The issues most people bring up, I'm going to discuss each of these below.
#1- let's discuss spine issues and bathroom issues.
This CAN be an issue in all tailless animals. And we can look to Manx cats which have been bred for a long time and have a very well-established history to understand this better.
I'm going to try to explain this simple and to the point. Basically, there's a balance to everything. We can take any variety/trait/aspect and push it too far and get a whole hot mess.
We see this with some dog breeds with flat faces. People took a thing and went too far with it and now there are health issues related.
But saying that any change to the dog's face is wrong and harmful is blatantly not true and taking it too far in the other direction.
When it comes to Manx, No matter the species, you can breed the spine too short and this can cause health issues. But this is something that's very easily seen. This is not the case with all Manx though. And these days with careful selection and breeding it's not even an issue very often. Very few people seem to ever see spine issues pop up anymore.
With breeding, we deal a lot with selection. We select what we want and breed for that and deselect what we don't by breeding away from it. This is how we improve everything from coats, colors, markings, and yes even temperament and health!
So some of those first breeders with manx focused on breeding away from spine issues.
A lot of old content on some websites still have outdated information because when they first began to pop up there were a lot more issues. But these days there are relatively no issues whatsoever in most lines.
I have not seen any in any of mine.
But the magical key point here is that ANY line or variety has the potential for something bad to pop up. And some varieties have a much higher chance of bad things. Some varieties we all love today began with a whole mess of issues and amazing breeders bred away from those issues, improving the variety!
Blues have bleeding issues in some lines.
Harley can have major skin issues.
Marble can have teeth issues.
When Silvermane were first discovered some lines had major temperament issues and some had heart issues.
DWS and megacolon
But a lot of these things have been absolutely erased from lines or greatly improved upon because of breeders working with them and working out issues.
That's what breeders do....
And it is NO different with manx.
But temperature control & balance....
This goes back to exactly what I said about wild animals surviving versus comfy spoiled pets. They do not have the same requirements to thrive.
I do recommend that if somebody is to own a Manx, (and will only sell to homes that do) That they should have heating and AC. But honestly, I recommend this no matter what type of rat you have.
Keeping your home a nice even comfortable temperature, it's not really going to make any difference whatsoever.
Rats can be extremely sensitive to temperature changes. All rats! When I first moved to my new house that first summer I believe it got really hot and I didn't have AC yet. I got super worried about my rats. They were obviously overheated and lethargic. My husband ran out that day and got me AC because he was wonderful.
But now I've gone through several winters and summers with Manx, I have closely monitored them and have not noticed a single issue at all. They have not acted any different than any of my other rats. In the middle of summer they aren't lethargic, they're still active and playful and seem very cool and relaxed. In winter they're snuggling with everybody else they're still active they don't feel cold to the touch etc...
And others with Manx tell me the exact same. These are things you wouldn't miss if there were signs of trouble. And it's not that different from some coat types such as hairless, Drex, etc...
I don't think it matters at all in a pet home as long as you have heating and AC. And keep your home with normal comfortable temperature with them of course.
As for balance...
The question of balance makes me the most confused of all the questions I get lol I swear people act like Manx can't walk a straight line without a tail and couldn't pass a sobriety test lol!
Honestly, you should have a safe secure home for your pets that's well suited for them no matter what. At one point I had a blind rat, and rats do exceptionally well without vision because they already have very poor vision and so they're used to using their other senses. I had to adjust the cage slightly just to make sure she wouldn't be able to fall and get hurt.
That's just common sense.
Don't have an 8-ft cage with drops and all climbing vines everywhere if you're going to own Manx perhaps....
It's a common misconception in many pet groups that rats need super tall climbing cages. Rats are actually fossorial, meaning they like to dig and burrow and floor space is far more important than height. Climbing can be fun but it's not necessary.
But honestly, I think it's kind of moot anyway, I have not noticed any issues with Manx being able to climb normally. Mine climb the bars of the cage. They jump. I had a girl out and she was sitting on a table and lept from the table onto my knee when it was a pretty sizable jump. If she didn't have any balance she probably would have fallen on her face lol
When I moved my litter with my baby boy Manx to a brand new cage he was the very first one on to the second shelf climbing up the bars lol He was the second one into the spacepod hanging. The Manx are always climbing up the sides of the cage to see me first.
I am a super clutsy person who is always tripping over my own feet, the manx seem far more balanced than I!
I personally have not noticed any difference in their ability to climb or balance whatsoever.
It's important to remember that they are born this way and they're going to adjust really well because of that.
I have zero plans to end my amazing very well-established line just because Manx may pop up on occasion.
I love my animals very much and care deeply for their well-being. It's very important to me the animals not just survive but they thrive! If I ever have the slightest doubt that there was an issue with them I would definitely not be bringing them into this world.
I do not feel in any way that it is unethical to breed for Manx as long as the breeder knows what they're doing and is paying attention to any possible health issues just like with any other variety. There is just zero difference there. It is what a responsible breeder does.
I have no plans for breeding for it myself because as I said it's just not something that interests me. But they still may pop up and I may on occasion make them available as pets to the right home.
I welcome any respectful questions and comments. It's definitely okay to disagree with something and not like it. There are tons of things I don't like. That's okay. But open yourself up to factual evidence and not just what you've heard.
You don't have to take my word for it either. I think my experience and the reasonings I'm giving are a good starting point but definitely question things. If you want more research definitely dig into it deeper. Look at other species of tailless animals bred responsibly. Remember that anybody in the world can make a website it doesn't make it factual or scientific though. I also suggest talking to other breeders who have bred Manx or those who have owned Manx and see their experiences.
If you read all of that long ranty thing thank you for taking the time! And thank you to everybody who actually has listened and kept an open mind even if in the end you choose to disagree.