Another Rat Lifespan Survey

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rattycorner
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Another Rat Lifespan Survey

Post by rattycorner » Thu Mar 11, 2010 7:09 pm

I know it's been done before, but I'm doing it again. :lol:

I've set up a lifespan survey on my website. I'm planning to stick the data into an Excel file as I get it, which will be linked from the website. There will also be a results page with a summary of the results to date.

The thing that started the idea was my gathering of data on my own rats, and my frustration that the sample size was too small and too interlinked to draw any solid conclusions yet. I'm hoping that asking other people to add their rats' details will make it clearer which factors really affect the rats' lifespan.

Here's the survey: http://www.rattycorner.com/survey/ - thanks in advance to anyone who comes along to join in.

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Re: Another Rat Lifespan Survey

Post by Jemma » Thu Mar 11, 2010 8:07 pm

You've got my last 4 boys, i can add previous rats if you want but the data isn't so solid on those and is more down to memory.
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Re: Another Rat Lifespan Survey

Post by rattycorner » Thu Mar 11, 2010 11:31 pm

That's fine. I'd rather have quality than quantity.
Thanks. :D

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Re: Another Rat Lifespan Survey

Post by longlegs » Fri Mar 12, 2010 8:14 am

Out of interest, have you considered whether you want rescues included? Pretty much all of mine have been rescues, and only a tiny amount I've had an exact date of birth for. A lot of rescues have their ages guessed to varying degrees of accuracy. If you're wanting exact dates (which does lead to better data), you'll be massively skewing the sample towards breeder babies and just a small amount of rats actually born in rescue/accidental litters etc, which will obviously affect the results. Sorry to be awkward :lol:
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Re: Another Rat Lifespan Survey

Post by rattycorner » Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:09 am

I think I prefer to collect all the info, and then filter it if I find it's causing a problem.

I think you can only directly compare lifespan of rats obtained as babies anyway, as if people are getting rats at an older age it cuts off the lower half of the lifespan distribution.

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Re: Another Rat Lifespan Survey

Post by rattycorner » Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:26 am

I think I prefer to collect all the info, and then filter it if I find it's causing a problem.

I think you can only directly compare lifespan of rats obtained as babies anyway, as if people are getting rats at an older age it cuts off the lower half of the lifespan distribution.

eta: see what you're saying. That applies to all the data. Need to go think some thoughts.

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Re: Another Rat Lifespan Survey

Post by longlegs » Fri Mar 12, 2010 9:33 am

I think my point was that you will only get certain rats in the sample, before any filtering, as by asking for an accurate lifespan, a lot of rats are immediately discounted by not even being entered into the survey. I fully understand why this has to be the case, but just wanted to check that you'd considered it would affect your results. I don't know if I've made anymore sense :-?

I typed the rest of this out before I saw your reply to my previous question, so some of it may not be relevant anymore if you're only interested in those obtained as babies. I thought I'd leave it as it is for now though. As for actually filling out the survey, I do have some with accurate enough information to include, so will do that when I can get to the records on my computer :)

Having looked at the survey in more detail, I have a few comments/suggestions - apologies if you've already considered these and decided against them. I don't know if it's even possible to add/change things at this point, or if you'd want to, but I just thought I'd give my input in case it helps :) Feel free to tell me to shut up :oops:

I haven't typed the full questions for some of them, but you'll know which ones I mean.

'was the rat bred from' - it may be worth adding the option of 'at least once' etc. Just thinking with some rescues, they may arrive pregnant/with a litter (or both) but you don't know if they've been bred from before too. Or maybe make it clearer which option to select in that sort of case, i.e. is it more important for the data to have an accurate number, so select unknown, or is it more important to know they've been bred from, so select based on what you know

'what was your rat's build?' - this is a very subjective question, but also an important one. Have you considered adding a selection of pictures for both ends of the scale, and maybe the mid-point, as a point of reference? And possibly making 2 scales - fat/thin and level of muscle tone? One of my slimmest girls was actually quite flabby, but others have been really toned and strong.

'occurency of fruit and veg given' - it might be easier if this was in groups of numbers and/or as an average. I don't have set days to give things to the rats, but I could say, for example, on average they probably get veg 3-4 times a week.

'rat's attitude towards you' - just wondering if fearful should be added onto the scale? Maybe with 1 being very fearful/cautious, 5 being indifferent and 10 being very loving. That would just make a little more sense to me, but I'm probably being very picky there so you should possibly ignore me on that one :lol:

'aggressiveness towards people/other rats' - I'm just wondering if a scale needs to be added for both of these as an 'after spay/neuter' option, as some will be very aggressive before, but this sorts them and makes them less stressed for the remainder of their lives.

'size of group' - again, I'm wondering if number ranges should be used instead of specifics. Particularly in larger groups, I guess a lot would be mixed-age and can be pretty fluid numbers as some die and others are introduced throughout the rat's life. My smaller groups have remained fairly constant, but my current group has fluctuated a lot between 6-12, but has mostly been between 9-12.

A possible addition would be whether the rat was kept in a single-sex or mixed-sex group. There's been some evidence to suggest that boys living in all buck groups tend to have shorter lifespans due to higher levels of stress and testosterone. I'm not sure if this is something you're interested in factoring in to your research.

Lastly, (and you've probably thought about this already) when you say 'for most of the rat's life', people can usually only answer for the time they've had the rat which, certainly for a good number of mine, hasn't been for most of their lives. For instance, 1 rat was on his own for a year before coming here, then integrated into a group of 6. Others may have received no fresh food and been kept on sawdust etc well into middle age, at which point they go to a new home and are kept well for the remainder of their lives.

Sorry, I'll stop rambling now!
Katie and the Kahini Rats xxx
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Re: Another Rat Lifespan Survey

Post by rattycorner » Fri Mar 12, 2010 11:39 pm

OK, I've thunk now.

I see what you mean about the lifespan, but as you say there's not a lot I can do about it.

I was thinking that I'd lose the left side of the distribution, but that shouldn't happen because I'd get replies from people before they rehome. At least, most of the rats I've rehomed have come from Fancy Rats, or been from people visiting my website.

See what you mean about the 'bred from' section. Hmm.

Build is subjective, yes, but hopefully that should balance out if I have enough replies. I'm conscious of the fact that the survey is already quite long so am trying not to add too many extra quesions.

Size of group is more easily analysed as a number than a range, because I can use 'less than' to pull the figures out.

Mixed sex groups tend to include neutered rats, so it would be difficult to separate the effect of the neuter from the effect of the mixed group.

I added 'most of the rat's life' to avoid complicating the questions, because I couldn't figure out how to include drastic changes in husbandry without making the form longer and more complicated.

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