In June 2021, Evolution Rattery and Oakgrove Rattery undertook a project to try to eradicate Streptobacillus moniliformis (SBM), the bacteria that causes Rat Bite Fever (RBF), from the fancy rat breeding community, using a cross-fostering method.
Over these months, we have raised a thriving colony of pathogen free albinos, including a ‘control’ group and a foster group. We can now start offering other breeders clean rats in trios of 1 male and 2 females. We would love to be able to offer these rats free-of-charge, but the cost of maintaining our colonies without the income from adoptions has been a challenge. We have had several generous donations; however, the majority of expenses for maintenance and testing has been out of our own pockets. Therefore, we will be charging a nominal fee of $40 per albino trio. Likewise, when we can start offering breeding stock, we will do all that we can to charge low fees. Our belief is that we shouldn’t profit from helping the fancy rat community.
As for testing, we were excited when the community came across a low-cost testing facility, and initially used this resource for our testing needs. Unfortunately, we received some positives which almost made us give up since the project appeared to have failed. We discussed these results with Charles River (CR), and reviewed our process and husbandry with them. They were encouraged by our interim results and offered to sponsor several tests to confirm/deny the positives we had received from the other lab.
We can now confirm that 100% of litters fostered so far are SBM FREE, this includes litters whose biological mothers were SBM positive! The results we received from CR were ALL NEGATIVE! They are so extremely excited about this progress that they are sponsoring a second round of tests in a couple weeks. Since the other lab has proved to not be as reliable as we had hoped, we will now exclusively use CR for foster litter testing.
Exciting, right! That’s not all! We have also included testing for viral pathogens as part of our process. We did this to ascertain what pathogens present in our original colony had been transferred along with the foster litter. 100% of our foster litters have tested NEGATIVE for the following pathogens:
This means we have proved that cross fostering CAN effectively clean colonies of even some of the most difficult pathogens – especially those that can harm us. Mind you: we accomplished this without the use of antibiotics!!! We have cut no corners in this process to get as conclusive of results as possible – to the point that CR said our process was more thorough than some lab attempts at cross fostering.
We want to test at least one more generation before we claim our process to be a total success – this will be around the first of May. At that time we will publish our ‘Draft Process’ to be available to ALL. And yes!! Start adopting again!!!!!!!! Our final step has been to introduce several confirmed clean rats to our ‘dirty colony’ to gauge how susceptible they are to viral infection. This way we can inform adopters if clean rats can be safely introduced to their current mischief or if we will advise against it.
For now, please help support us if you can via our GoFundMe or if you would rather help by sending a gift card, our supplies frequently come from Chewy, Tractor Supply, and Ace Hardware. Please contact us at either Chris@oakgroverattery.com or EvolutionRattery@gmail.com for a mailing address.
If you have been following our efforts to eliminate Streptobacillus moniliformis (SBM), the bacteria that causes Rat Bite Fever, we have some incredibly encouraging developments to share.
We were spurred into action at the beginning of 2021 after our annual serology tests came back with some not such good news. We had discussions with Charles River Labs about our results and received clarification on what they really mean for our rattery. We then took steps to test for SBM, which unfortunately came back positive.
Further talks with Charles River illuminated the possibility of ridding our colony of SBM through cross-fostering, so we made the decision to give it a try. Fast forward several months and several foster litters later, our first foster litter of Black Eyed Siamese turned twelve weeks, old enough for serology testing. Their biological mom had tested negative for SBM, and so did their foster Mom once the babies turned 8 weeks old, so we felt it unneccessary to retest for that. The following screenshots are the initial serology from EVO's colony, and the first serology of the BES Foster Litter.
We are cautiously optimistic that we can replicate these 100% CLEAN serology results with subsequent foster litters. This is potentially HUGE for the rat breeding community and future pet owners. Being able to rid our colonies of pathogens that exacerbate upper respiratory illness would significantly reduce occurences and severity, leading to much healther pets for our adopters.
REMEMBER: we need to confirm our findings with subsequent foster litters before breaking out the champagne!
With regard to SBM infection. We have had one litter that was born to an SBM positive mom test CLEAN! But... we also had a second litter test positive. We are discussing these outcomes with Charles River to see if our procedures need to be tweaked. This is still extremely encouraging and has breathed some fresh energy into our project, and will finally give us some clean rats to offer for adoption.