Monday, December 23, 2013
You will have to learn about and understand the risks and benefits of line breeding. While inbreeding is generally considered bad, once the serious issues are worked out of a line, breeding back to that line will keep your line from becoming contaminated with problem genetics. Test breeding from the same line will help you identify the recessive problems that still exist in that line. But too much or improper inbreeding can lead to weakened strains.
Monday, December 16, 2013
I happened across this video on YouTube this morning, while searching an unrelated topic. Ever wonder why mice and rats are the most commonly used animals for scientific research? The SciShow offers a very quick summary of the history of using rats in laboratories. They even mention the rat pits that were featured in Terry Pratchett's The Amazing Maurice and his Educated Rodents.
Saturday, December 14, 2013
I decided on three different prints - one for each set. The first, a basic red, white, and green pattern that was bright and modern. The second, a red and white candy cane design. The third, a more traditional old-fashioned gingerbread design.
I was worried that I wouldn't get them done on time, but yesterday, I finished off the last of the three sets, and today, both cages are decked out in holiday style.
I didn't do any special cage decorating this year - I just didn't have time to come up with ideas. I was too focused on getting the hammocks made. Hopefully, next year, we can think about some original decorating ideas.
Friday, December 13, 2013
Grade Level: 3-7
I read The Christmas Rat to my boys last Christmas. I read to them every night and much of what I read ends up being less than memorable (for me - not necessarily for them). I try to mix it up with a little bit of the classics to make it more interesting (Old Yeller, Johnny Tremaine, Ender's Game, etc) and some of the new middle grade popular stuff to keep them engaged (Divergent, Michael Vey, Artemis Fowl). But every now and then I throw in an intriguing sounding book with rats in it.
This particular book is difficult to forget. It is really an odd book, and very eerie. It does not follow any common plot formula. I actually found it to be quite disturbing in places. It makes it a hard book to recommend or not recommend - because I myself have conflicted feelings about the book and it can very well produce polar opposite reactions in different people. I happen to like books that are different and memorable even if they are not a completely perfect, polished piece of art, so I have a particular draw to this one. But others may not find it so intriguing.
The main character, Eric, is a boy home for Christmas break. But things don't go according to his plans. His friends are either sick or out of town and his parents leave him alone during the day. He ends up meeting with his apartment building's exterminator, who coerces him to swear an oath to help him hunt down the rat in the building's basement. Eric quickly realizes that what he is doing is wrong and he develops an appreciation for the building's intelligent rat resident. But when he starts to waiver on his oath, the exterminator turns against him.
The exterminator is really one of the most creepy characters in children's fiction. He is portrayed as a violent killer who kills for the love of it. He needs the hunt. The fact that he is also supposed to be a manifestation of the Angel Gabriel is what really stirs things up. It is hard to resolve these two personas and the fact that on the one hand, we absolutely know that the exterminator is the enemy but on the other hand, can an angel really be the enemy in a children's Christmas story? Would an angel turn on a child trying to do what he believes is right? Or is there something more to it?
I think the book worked these issues out in the end - and the rat is definitely portrayed as crafty and as a being worth fighting for. I recommend this book for those who like their plots and conflicts to be a little muddy and not so cut and dry. But it could be disturbing and a little violent for kids who are not used to that sort of thing. My kids like video games and scary movies and so were completely fine with it. I probably was more disturbed than they were - simply because of the use of the Angel Gabriel in the specific role he played.
Friday, December 6, 2013
Rats Weasel Their Way into Hearts of Students (From Scarlet & Black, the Grinnell College Newspaper).
A great positive story about living on campus with pet rats. The piece talks about the misconceptions people have about rats and how they actually make great pets, being both affectionate and smart. Be sure to check it out!
Monday, December 2, 2013
The package was labeled "Lighted Mouse" but this is clearly a labeling error. He is much too big to be a mouse. He is most definitely a Christmas Rat!
Finally, a rat that Loki gets along with!