About Alpha Centauri...
My name is Victor and I run a rattery in Whetstone on the Northern line on the North of London in the United Kingdom. My day job is as an IT Consultant, which by the nature of the job does mean I've been able to work from home quite a lot in recent years and hence able to spend a lot of time around my ratty family.
I started breeding rats in 1997 and showing my rats at a few local NFRS shows during 1998. I have always primarily bred for British blue rats since one randomly appeared in my first ever litter (which was a Siamese x a black hooded) and I fell in love with the colour. When I started breeding, there was very little information on the internet and there wasn't the help or mentorship available in the same way as there is these days, so I muddled along with some help and assistance from Cat Russ (Taranis Stud) and Ann Storey (Rivendell Stud), who both supplied me with lovely rats to help my early breeding lines of blues. I had also fallen in love with Siamese rats and one of my early aims was to breed a good British blue point Siamese.
During my early stages of breeding and showing rats I worked closely with Siobhan Learmonth (Rattyhaven) and Sarah Stevens (Milo Stud) as they were very local to me and between us we were sharing some of the breeding of Siamese and black eyed whites. Siobhan was my most local rat breeding friend at that time and we shared a number of our matings and lines during my early years of breeding and also went to lots of shows together until she moved further south and gave up breeding. Siobhan was primarily working on a black eyed white line and I got involved with that and it became my second line of rats for a number of years. I bred a lovely black eyed white buck called Alpha Centauri Fred and he went on to become a Gold Champion and in the process gave me my NFRS studname at the Bradford Championships Show in 2001. Sadly I felt I had no choice but to give up and stop the black eyed white line here, about a year after Fred had become a champion, as several of the black eyed whites born were clearly deaf due to the white spotting gene.
I continued breeding British blues and my lines produced some lovely rats with a wonderful nature about them and in particular this line started to become very popular as pets because of their wonderful laid back nature. My other aim had been the blue point Siamese and I had my first one born in a litter to Alpha Centauri Sophie and Rattyhaven Otis in 2000. Sadly that litter and the other litter I had with Sophie both had loads of health problems and I was forced to stop the line on anything bred from Sophie. Thankfully I had no problems with the main blue line, so that has continued and all my current blues do trace back to my original two rats that I bred together back in 1997.
During 2000/2001 I got involved with some of the newly imported dumbos and Russian blue lines and also got involved in doing a number of imports and exports to Europe. During the more recent years, I've been involved in several exports and rats I have bred have been exported to as far away as Russian and the USA as well as many living all over the UK and Europe. I joined the National Fancy Rat Society committee in 2000 and also got involved with the forming of the North of England Rat Society in 2001 and became part of their original committee. I started my training as an NFRS judge in 2000 and qualified as a Show Judge in 2003 and have since been promoted to a Championship Judge in 2005. I became NFRS Hon Secretary in 2003 and am still currently in that role.
Other breeders who are not mentioned above but have given me assistance and helped with my breeding lines over the years and become important friends in the rat world are Alison Campbell (Shunamite Stud), Sandra & Graham Mobbs (Tennyson Stud) and Lisa Grove (Halcyon Stud).
Breeding Aims and Ethics...
My breeding aims first and foremost are to continue to improve and maintain excellent personality and temperament in my lines. All my litters are bred with this in mind and I pride myself with how many rats born at Alpha Centauri have achieved good awards in pet classes over the years and how many rats from my lines are continuing lines elsewhere with other breeders with similar ethics. I want my rats to be a pleasure to own and for each individual to interact with their human and want to spend time with their human.
With the personality of my lines established, I am also focusing on improving the general health and longevity. Over the years since I started breeding, by selecting away from problems, I have noted less and less mammary tumours in my does and as a general rule, the vast majority of my rats never visit the vet for treatment in their entire lives. The average longevity of my rats is usually between 2-3 years old with the vast majority reaching at least 28 months old. Health and longevity is something that takes many generations and many years to fully assess the results, so this will always be a continuing aim. One of my requirements for people owning my rats is that they allow me to follow up the rat's lives for their entire lives as feedback from the kittens I keep is not enough alone, I need the sibling information as well.
I am also working to improve the general type, conformation and colour for the specific varieties I breed. When one of my rats does well at a show, I feel proud that not only are they a package of good temperament and health, but also they have what is needed to help them conform within the NFRS Standards of Excellence.
I do not reduce litter size by culling kittens as not only is this losing data on my breeding lines, but to me each life born is precious and should be treated as such. My adult rats either live out their lives here or in some cases are rehomed to local pet homes where they are allowed to live their full lifespan and I am still able to follow them up. If any of my rats require veterinary care or humane euthanasia, this is give by my excellent local practice - Beaconsfield Veterinary Clinic.
I use a product called Breeders Assistant for keeping and maintaining information on my rats and pride myself on having a very comprehensive database going back over many generations with the majority of my rats bred since 2000 having feedback. All my blue line rats trace back to my first litter in their pedigree and I have traced back many generations with the help of American breeders on the dumbo lines and can go back 10+ generation before they were imported to the UK.
I am proud to be mentoring several newer breeders in their efforts to become established breeders. Details of these are on my Current litters page.
If you would like more detailed information on my rats, my care or my breeding practices, please feel free to contact me.
Now Alphacentauri is part of Gentaur. Gentaur is a big company in the sphere of molecular biology and biochemisty. We happened to find mutual interests. I've always loved my rats, but when they finish their life cycle... I get very sad and often struggle what I have to do next. Instead of me taking all the negative feels, my partners from Gentaur procede through. By this way, we both help for the development of science in the future and I'm happy with that fact.