Down By The River:
The Mid Atlantic RMCA's Stand on Culling

Stacy Goff
From the March/April 1999 Rat & Mouse Gazette

I’m pretty sure that it’s the general consensus of our group that culling is an unacceptable method of population control. Culling, by definition, is the systematic extermination of undesirable products of a breeding population. In other words, as some would explain it, taking them “Down by the river.”

From an ethical standpoint alone, culling litters involves the torture and subsequent death of the animals we are in this club to revere. Therefore, it is not in the best interest of our members to practice culling in their breeding programs. If you end up with a litter of 14 Black Berkshires when you have 20 people waiting for Fawns, tough nuggies, buddy. Suck it up. Mistakes happen. The members of this chapter will help you place those rats and mice if that is what you need to do. That’s why we are in a group, to help each other, support each other in our choices, but killing helpless animals is not a choice we tend to be fond of. We do not take our animals out into the woods and free them. They will not live through the night, and if you think they will, it’s back to Biology 101 for you! We don’t drown them in buckets, we don’t accidentally separate them from their mothers. How is this a love for rodents?

I apologize for standing on my soapbox so early in the career of this chapter, and I hope I have not offended anyone. I thought we may at least stand for something, and what’s a more appropriate cause than the bumping off of our best little rodent pals? Friends, I am in no position to bestow guilt feelings upon anyone. No one is, really. There are other groups and organizations that not only tolerate culling litters, but actually give graphic accounts of methods and practices. That’s fine for them, if they consider culling to be an asset to the breeding community, even a necessity – that is their business. However, I want this club to offer an alternative atmosphere to theirs. I hope members will join thinking, hey, I’m among people like myself. The friends I surround myself with don’t take their imperfect animals down by the river.

I want to assure all of you that if you breed rats and mice, care for the young, spend countless hours playing with them and loving them, you are a breeder. Being a breeder is not synonymous with culling. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. We, as breeders, can say “hey, I really think that is wrong.” Sacrificing the lives of animals doesn’t make you a “better” breeder. Refusing to do it doesn’t make you a “pet class only” breeder, either.

So, what if you aren’t a breeder? Looking to get a new rat? Any rat will do? Talk to breeders in our association, check breeders lists. Get your pets from reputable breeders when you can. Help us reduce our populations naturally and in the spirit of respect for every living thing.