The Library of the
London & Southern Counties Mouse & Rat Club
All of these articles are from the National Mouse Club Rule Book 1935/36 edition - they are the opinions of their authors and not necessarily the LSCMRC
FOR THE NOVICE By C. H. JOHNSON
Writing on behalf of all true fanciers (and I trust I may number myself in that category) whose one study is the success and furtherance of the Mouse Fancy, I believe our main worry and concern is the loss, within a short space of time, of a great many of the new fanciers who join our ranks. "Why?" we ask ourselves. Mouse breeding is not so difficult, although we do not pretend it is as easy as "falling off a log".
Another thing which causes us concern is the feeling of distrust in many cases with the original stock which is purchased. just because winners are not turned out in the first generation many novices think that they have been "done," and that there is something wrong with the stock which they have purchased. I well recollect someone saying to me ---"Did you ever know anyone breed any winners from So and So's stock?" and mentioned the name of a reputable breeder who was at the top of the tree at the time in his particular variety. Having had dealings with this breeder I was pleased to put "paid" to this misapprehension, for I myself had bred winners from the stock purchased.
Let me say with emphasis that if you deal with a reputable breeder and pay a fair price you will get good, sound healthy stock from which you can, by attention to detail and the requirements of the Fancy breed winners and establish yourself in due course in the ranks of the select, but before you reach this stage you will have many setbacks and disappointments. Winners are not turned out in every litter and it may be three or four generations before you attain your aim. Perseverance and grit is essential. You must not give up hope, and failures must spur you on to greater efforts.
Therefore novices and beginners do try and stay with us; please follow my advice and you will be repaid by the pleasure and satisfaction to follow. I know it is hard work at the beginning - there is much to learn and it may seem an uphill task, but there is nothing obtained without effort, and when success comes it will be all the sweeter. You will find the old fanciers always ready to help you to keep in touch with your original supplier and any other fanciers whom You may meet. Let them know Your troubles and ask for advice (if writing remember a stamped addressed envelope). Another thing about the old fanciers, who appear to carry everything before them, they are good sports and simply love to be beaten by a better mouse. I assure you that if you take that Premier and much prized Red card they will be the first to pat you on the back and say "Well done!"
Railway Rates for Mice as stated by the Chief Commercial Manager, L.M.S. Railway, 1936.
Mice travelling to or from Agricultural, Livestock Shows, etc., are charged on the outward journey at the Single-Company's Risk- rate, and on the homeward journey at half-rate at Owner's Risk. A certificate to the effect that the traffic is being returned unsold from a Show, and remains the property of the Exhibitor, signed by the Secretary of the Show, should be obtained in each case for surrender to the Railway Company.
'Mice which are sent for Exhibition from one Show to another, in another part of the country, are charged the full rates in respect of each journey, from point to point, up to the last station, to which they are sent for Exhibition. If remaining unsold when returned from the latest Show to the originating or "Home" station, they are, on surrender of the necessary certificate, carried at Owner's Risk at half-rate, provided each journey is made over the. line of the Company or Companies by whose route the mice were conveyed on the outward journey.
The Railway Companies are not prepared to accept and. charge the traffic at the Owner's Risk rates on the outward journey.
To My Friend the Novice - J Wilton-Steer
Those of you who have yet to win your spurs in the. open-Tourney" are indeed fortunate. The future is in front of you and you will experience all the pleasures of anticipation which far exceed those of realization.. Indeed you are more fortunate than I, for I was never really a novice. The first time I exhibited in open competition I won a First Prize, and so was for ever ruled out of that glorious band.
Now I want to give you a short lecture taking as my subject a friend of mine who has just joined the Fancy. He is a very intelligent man, a clever craftsman and so inclined to go his own way. But his very intelligence has taught him that he must learn to walk before he can run. And yet I have to keep the curb on him tight.
He has started with three varieties - I had preferred they were two - but being ---Selfs- under my guidance I think he will be all right and in due course make a name for himself, and already he is an excellent judge of what is right and what is wrong.
I want you to look upon me as a Doctor and do what I say, not what I did, for alas! I made many mistakes.
Start with one variety only, stick to that, and in due course you will learn that "the ways of, mice," like those. of men "gang aft agley."
And now some important "don'ts." Don't get despondent if you don't get out of that "Novice" class in a moment. Remember that "failure is the stepping stone to, success, and the means by which it is achieved.-
Don't run away with the idea that the best on the ---ShowBench- is necessarily the best in the "Breeding Pen- for generally just exactly the opposite is the case.
Avoid if possible buying mature stock. Get young ones from 6 to 8 weeks old. Rear them to maturity yourself. They will get to know you and your system of management and do better in the breeding pen.
Don't think the buck is the most important item in the pen, he isn't, being but the means to an end. That is an old fallacy that dies very hard. The doe is the most important factor in every way.
Don't rear large litters. On the other hand don't reduce to two in the hope of getting large mice. That is another fallacy. Mother Nature points distinctly to what is about right and after several thousands of authentic records had been kept we found the average litter of mice is five.
If you have a strong healthy doe with only five young to rear, one of two things happen. Either she produces more milk than can be consumed, with permanent injury to herself, or the five young get overfed resulting not so much in large mice (which nobody wants) but great ugly things that have lost all type of what the ideal mouse should be. This is how the trouble has arisen by timid judges saying, "Well up to age, average- and so on. I have always emphasised that in young classes. I have never been governed by size. If judges cannot tell whether a mouse is over 8 weeks or not, then it is high time they started to learn for at that period there are unmistakeable signs.
However small your stud try and pair as many does as you can at one and the same time. The advantages are manifold. When I was a boy and cried over the death of one of my pet mice, my father who had been a great livestock hobbyist all his life said: "John, if you ever take up a hobby seriously, never forget that if you keep 'Livestock' you are sure to get 'Dead Stock.' So if you do as I say and you should be unfortunate in having a valuable doe with a young litter die you can at once farm them out among your other does. Remember that exhibition stock want light, air, exercise. Here again is the advantage of having your litters about the same age. If you remove the bucks at just about four weeks you will find they will live in amity until such time as they are required or sold. Leave the does with their mothers until they are 6 weeks old. This gives them companionship which all mice love and then the mothers are ready again to breed.
Make up your mind what does you purpose keeping for exhibition and those for breeding. Have large cages, in reason they cannot be too large and several exhibition does will live happily together, get used to one another and when sent to Shows can be put back home without any fear of serious scrapping. I mention does more
especially, because while the expert can keep bucks in good condition, does are far easier for the novice.
Arid don't try to make your does do two jobs properly at one and the same time, it can't be done, Either they are for exhibition or for breeding.
There are many more don'ts I could give but my space has run out. Follow what I say, and You will be on the road to success, and should you meet trouble as assuredly YOU will do, don't be afraid to write me and I will help you all I can, only don't forget to enclose a stamp for the reply.
Your affectionate friend,
Evens - G W OLIVER
SILVER TANS - By R CLAYBURN
In 1934 my work caused me to be absent from home for about a week at a time, consequently my stock suffered in the hands of non-fanciers.
On returning one week I found my stud of Silver and
Tans was down to one doe in kindle. This had been mated to her son by accident. I left them together and the
doe kindled four does and two bucks. Of course the buck mated her again. Within a week my stock had to be left again to the mercy of my non-fancier friend who was perturbed when the buck died.
I had now six young and a pregnant doe. One young doe won 1st and another 3rd at Bradford Ch. Show, 1935
under J. Wood. Later the winner of 1st was made Ch. Silverton 1st and was never beatenxxx ten. I sold the winner of 3rd along with a good specimenxxx -- n from the second litter for £2.
If you intend to breed anything for exhibition I am convinced that in-breeding will get you to the top if you have patience.
My stud, remember, originated from one doe.
By selecting the best each time and the killing off of
the weaklings is the surest way to get a strain of reliable stock together.
To describe how to mate the "family" for best results
would be difficult in the space at my disposal, but I strongly recommend fanciers to purchase In-breeding, by C. A. House; it helped me and can help you if you apply commonsense in your breeding operations.
Buy the best foundation stock your pocket can afford and STICK AT IT." Winners don't come in every nest.
Proof of anything is in results. My second champion of this variety is a buck, registered this year.
I am willing to help any fancier who cares to write me re this charming variety.
I have applied this method to Dutch and Silver Grey and Tans with success.
<NAME="brokrile"Brokens By C H RILEY
These lines are intended for the man who wants an interesting hobby to detract his mind from the daily drudge, when he gets home at night. Not having room for the size of stud required in English rabbits, which I had kept for over twenty-five years, it struck me there might be a little interest to be derived from the breeding of fancy mice. I decided on Brokens which were in my mind the nearest to the above. I placed myself in the hands of one of our best breeders and he let me have three does, two blues and a black, at the same time recommending two other fanciers that would probably let me have a buck from the same strain as he had not one to spare.
I purchased two bucks and with these commenced breeding operations. One thing I can say about Brokens is this, there is not a moment's slack time when a stud of about thirty has been got together. There is always something fresh. The waiting of the three or four days to elapse so that the markings can be distinguished, and then the period of time required to see if the colour turns out all right, keeps up the interest more than any other livestock breeding I have ever taken up.
Set yourself out with one object in view and that is spots, big patches will come on their own because that is what they originally were in Brokens, don't be afraid to pair up a trio that are on the light side at first because it is the only way possible to keep in cheek the big heavy blotches.
I prefer a light buck to a doe with six or seven spots, but on no account breed from those with the heavy patch at the rear or tail end. I find that less you get at the tail in markings smaller the spots go, and after all it is the specimen with most spots all other properties being equal, that is the best and you cannot get a great amount of spots on a mouse if they are too large. You will have noticed that I am all out for spots, that is what my ideal of a Broken mouse should be, nice clean rounded spots, well distributed on the body. Breed only from those with a good nose spot and absence of saddle, never mind the number of spots, they will come themselves. I have proved it. What I lay most importance in is position.
Feeding as usual oats, canary seed, a little linseed, and here is a good tip. I got some cod liver oil and malt extract for my children, and tried a spoonful in some boiled milk and poured it over the soaked bread, let it stand a bit, and then squeezed out, it works wonders with the youngsters, I mean the young mice.
I gave 30/- for the five mice.
C. H. RILEY.
BLACK-EYED WHITES By PERCY ASHLEY
How often am I asked the question: "How do you get these B.E. Whites of yours?" Well I will do my best to tell you my methods. First of all let me say I am not saying my method is the only one or that winning B.E. Whites have never been produced by other methods. They have, and will be, but, and here is my point, I have proved beyond all argument that by my methods I have produced some of the finest stock ever. Three champions have been bred and registered in twelve months. So if this is proof enough for you, take my advice, try my way. First of all I keep a pair of P.E. Whites; these are only for comparison purposes. It's nice to be able to compare at one's leisure. You can compare at Shows but not like at home. Then I keep a few does and bucks of mixtures and experiment with these trying to beat what I have found the best method of producing B.E. Whites.
I have never yet produced one to beat what I call my own stud. Still I keep trying, as I am not biased in my opinions or methods, and I like competition. That's why I want you to take up B.E. Whites. Let us have classes of twenty or more. Now to the point. If you can get hold of a couple of pairs, two bucks, two does of B.E. Whites' get the best you can buy, and mate these up. From the youngsters keep only the pure Whites and work up by line-breeding until you get them breeding 100 per cent.
pure. I only use for breeding stock which can hold its own in the Show Pen, and never breed a fault in. Stamp it out whatever it may be. Select only vigorous, healthy stock. Remember you can only reap what you sow. Sow well.
You will notice I advise two bucks and two does as a foundation of one's stud. I like nearly as many bucks as does. How can one buck suit a number of does? It cannot. Select the bucks as well as the does and mate to suit each mating. How is it that the people who are against inbreeding always take as their stand the point: "you fasten in the faults.--- Yes, granted, if you put them in, and insist on doing so. Now by the same line of reasoning can we not fasten in quality, etc.? Good points? Yes, of course we can. Try it. Breed B.E.Whites for the sake of B.E. Whites, do not trust to chance from some other varieties. Do not keep too many but all quality, and you will soon be at the top. Any information I can give, I am always pleased to let anyone have. Write me.
THE NEW VARIETIES By S P BOOT
During the past few years there have been many remarkable changes both as regards business, pleasure and hobbies. The Mouse Fancy, like other things, has grown rapidly. At Livestock Shows we see new varieties of dogs, rabbits, poultry and pigeons, and although some of us old-time fanciers may not take very kindly to them, we have several new varieties of mice and whether we like it or not we must admit it all speaks of progress and the breeding of these new varieties lends interest to fanciers. Whether they will stay and become popular or just fizzle out is a matter which cannot be decided at present, although, in my opinion, some of them are bound to stay.
We first come to Chinchillas. These are absolutely new, we have never had anything like them in this country and they open out great possibilities for the fancier. There is no doubt the Chinchilla is one of the prettiest and most interesting varieties we have and a good Chinchilla will hold its own under most judges in a mixed class. From out-crosses with Chinchillas we get a number of beautifully shaded mice, one of the prettiest being the Fox. I believe that in a few years' time the Fox in their different colours of black, brown and blue will be quite as popular and equally as pretty and fascinating as our best Tans of to-day. They are mice which are easily bred, with good size and type and seem to keep in condition well.
Another variety which came into prominence a year or two ago, but which has made no headway is the Argente. I am afraid the Argente will never become popular, most of the present-day judges looking askance at it. This mouse has been bred for a great number of years, but has always been considered a waster.
We now come to the latest recognised variety, the Astrex. I do not hold any great hopes for this variety at present, as the Astrex always appears to be a mouse out of condition and our judges are very drastic with poor conditioned mice. I do not think they will ever be able to hold their own in a mixed class, also stamina in this variety is lacking. We may possibly in the future improve on the Astrex as the rabbit people have done with the Rex rabbit, but this I doubt.
With all these new varieties to choose from let me urge fanciers to take up any one of them with a view to improvement and by so doing we shall stimulate interest in the Mouse Fancy as has been done in other branches of small livestock.
S. P. BOOT.
Why I Keep Rats - and How By Leslie Housden MD
From an impecunious youth, when my pets cost only the trouble of catching them-slow-worms, rooks, tadpoles and mice-I have passed through various stages of zoological affluence-foreign birds, snakes, monkeys and tame pigs-to arrive at last at the age of mature judgment and responsibility. Why then do I now neglect all other forms of livestock in favour of rats? It cannot be due, as my friends suggest, to mental derangement, or I could not shine so brightly at "cross-word" puzzles. And surely it cannot be that I like the horrible animals? Yet, that is the sober truth; just that and nothing else.
Rats are the most intelligent, friendly little people, with large, soft eyes, lissom bodies and of exceptional cleanliness. When efficiently and quietly cared for, they make no attempt to bite and display an alluring sense of fun, rolling one another over on the floors of their cages and chasing each other at top speed, when let out for a run. As climbers and balancers they are always ready to give a command performance and many are the tales that could be told of their inventiveness in overcoming obstacles. Add to all this that the breeding of fancy rats, as a hobby has ceased, so that all the colour-breeding has to be started again from the beginning, and what more could a fancier want?
Come into my rattery for a moment.
This used to be a stable but with a three feet high shelf all round and electric light, it suits my purpose well. All the cages are of the open-fronted, rabbit-hutch type, the breeding-cages having both run and bed-place, while the others are all run. I like this type, as I can sit in the centre of the stable and see the whole of my stock in comfort. They are all bedded on white sawdust, with hay or straw for the breeding does and occasionally, in very cold weather, for the others. Each cage contains a bowl of water and is cleaned out twice a week. My stud is quite a small one, never much more than a hundred strong but, had I a thousand and the time to look after them properly, there would still be no unpleasant smell. Rats are as odourless as they are clean. They are fed twice a day, on whole oats and hound-biscuit in the morning and oil bread-and-milk at night. In addition to this, they get vegetables, fruit and table-scraps. Are you surprised at the variety of colours? Well, they are all descended from five rats, that I bought just over two years ago-and I can give you the exact pedigree of each one, for each is numbered and described in my stud book. Have you noticed this litter of young blacks? Two of them are without a single white hair. That's an advance. Oh, I know they have plenty of tan or chocolate in them, but careful breeding will get rid of that, though, with my small numbers and limited time, it may take some years. You would get a pure black much quicker than I can, if you just took up the one colour as an addition to your mice.
These Chocolates are a good level lot-the best I have had so far-but my favourites are the Stones and Fawns. Everyone, including confirmed rat-haters, likes these and I feel that they will do more to popularise rat-breeding than any other colours. And what a suitable past-time this is for an impatient age. Results are obtained so quickly. A rat will have any number up to eighteen in a family, when itself but six months old and, in three weeks time, the young will be out in the run, foraging for food. As for "in-breeding" "-look at them! Hundreds and hundreds of them bred through six generations, from five ancestors and not one ailing animal in the rattery.
I know what you want to say. They are simply delightful and you'd love to have some, if only they were not called "rats." Then change their name. Call them anything you like.
I call them "PIGMIES."
I\. C. EARP ... ... "lvanhoe"
D. B. DAY ... ... "Tetbury"
E. J. ELLIS ... ... "Bristol Dutch"
C. H. JOHNSON ... ...
JIM BUSBY ... Variegated (2).
JIM BUSBY ... Chocolate.
P. G. THOMSITT ... Red (3).
J. WORMALD ... Black.
J. TIVEY ... Dutch.
J. TIVEY ... Blue Tan.
J. TIVEY ... Cinnamon.
DR. J. N. PICKARD ... Black Tan (2).
DR. J. N. PICKARD ... Champagne Tan (2)
DR. J. N. PICKARD ... Chocolate Tan.
DR. J. N. PICKARD ... Pearl.
DR. J. N. PICKARD ... Chinchilla.
DR. J. N. PICKARD ... Dove Tan.
W. W. SHIELD ... Fawn.
H. CAULDWELL ... Dutch.
C. H. JOHNSON ... Chocolate Tan (4).
J. WHITWORTH ... Dutch.
P. ASHLEY ... B.E. White (3).
P. ASHLEY ... Variegated.
N. C. EARP ... Silver Grey.
J. DOBSON ... Broken.
R. CLAYBURN ... Silver Tan.
E. B. DAY ... Broken.
J. SWABY ... Dutch.
E. J. ELLIS ... ... Dutch.
LSCMRC Web Page - Updated - 3rd June 1999