Pet Rat Q&A
Search The FAQ:
 

FAQ Index
Categories:
Category: Health
  1. How long do rats live?
  2. Why are my rat's eyes/nose bleeding?
  3. My rat needs a vet, but how can I find one who can take good care of him/her?
  4. My rat was young and healthy, but I just found him dead. What happened?
  5. Should I have my male neutered?
  6. Should I have my female spayed?
  7. What is the best age to neuter a rat?
  8. Is soda and chocolate bad for rats?
  9. My rat sits still, twitching constantly. What's wrong? How can I cure it?
  10. Do rats need their nails clipped?
  11. Can rats catch human diseases?
  12. Can I bathe my rat? What kind of shampoo is safe?
  13. Why do so many rats get cancer?
  14. Do males get cancer?
  15. How can I help prevent cancer in my rats?
  16. One of my rats has started to make a strange noise, that sound like she is sawing wood. Does she have a respiratory infection?
  17. How should you bathe a rat to keep it clean?
  18. Are feeder rats more likely to get sick and get parasites? If they are, how can I stop my rat from getting these things?
  19. How can I treat a bad cold?
  20. If I cut too far when trimming claws, how can I stop the bleeding?
  21. My rat has a nose bleed almost every day. What's wrong?
  22. How do you know if your rat is blind?
  23. Why does my rat keep itching and why does it have small scabs?
  24. My three month old rat is breathing rapidly. Should I take him in to the vet tomorrow?
  25. I have a female baby rate approx. 6 wks old. We got her 3 days ago from a good friend who breeds and raises rats. She's wet around her "belly button"?, (the rat, not my friend) it has an odor to it. I'm trying to introduce her to our resident rat who has been a bit rough on her. They are in separate cages and only spend a few minutes together a night. Is it wet tail? stress?
  26. i saw my rat eating its own feces
  27. If my rat is bleeding from both eyes, cant open either of her eyes, & isn't moving what can I do?



  1. How long do rats live?
    The average lifespan is 2-3 years. In some areas of the world, due to bad inbreeding, this is down to 1-2 years. It is not uncommon for rats, especially those from exceptional breeders, to live 4 or 5 years. The longest lived rat was seven!
    Category: Health
    201 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  2. Why are my rat's eyes/nose bleeding?
    Don't be alarmed! This is a porhyrin secretion, not blood. It can indicate stress or one of several diseases. If your rat is new or in a new situation, it may be stress. Listen for sneezing, wheezing, and rattling. Rats can get colds, but it may be mycoplasma, SDA, or a combination of other diseases. You cannot catch these diseases from your rat, but seek vetrinary care as soon as possible.
    Category: Health
    223 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  3. My rat needs a vet, but how can I find one who can take good care of him/her?
    Unfortunately, not all vets are experienced with the quirks or rats. They may assume they can treat them just like small dogs or other animals or may have the common rat prejudice. Here is a great guide to finding a good rat vet.
    Category: Health
    329 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  4. My rat was young and healthy, but I just found him dead. What happened?
    Your rat may have had a disease you were not aware of. Animals often do not show pain or illness. You should take cagemates to a vet and/or put them on quarantine and keep an eye on them for any symptoms. Another possibility is that your rat had a stroke or seizure. These occur suddenly and violently and can't be prevented or treated. If you have a rat that survived one (he/she may be temporarily paralyzed or act dizzy), move him/her to an aquarium or single-level cage to prevent injuries from future occurences.
    Category: Health
    110 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  5. Should I have my male neutered?
    The short answer is no; the long answer is that depends... Neutering a rat is a riskier procedure than it is for a cat or dog. The anesthesia is the greatest risk to such a small critter, and rats do die from that more often than the surgery. Males' sexually organs are also partly internal, so it is a much more invasive surgery than for other animals. Because rats generally live in cages and can be separated from the other sex, males aren't likely to accidentally impregnate another rat. The health benefits aren't really great. Though neutering reduces the occurence of tumors, having a tumor removed, though more expensive, is actually less risky than neutering and a tumor is just something that may or may not happen, so your rat may be spared the stress of surgery altogether. Neutering reduces male odor, which tends to be bearable anyway, as well as curbing aggressive behavior in problem rats. Some good reasons to have a rat neutered: Undescended testicles, testicular cancer, severe agression problems Not so good reasons: Odor, want to keep with females (just don't...), pees on things If circumstances call for it, and you have a reliable rat vet, an early neuter may save you from problems and give you a happier, healthier pet, but always consider alternatives to surgery if it can be avoided.
    Category: Health
    134 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  6. Should I have my female spayed?
    I do not recommend it, spaying is a very stressful and risky invasive procedure. It can also be quite expensive. The advantages to spaying are, well, no unwanted litters, of course, and a much reduced risk for tumors. HOWEVER, rat tumors are usually benign and easily removed at much less stress than a spaying, and not all females will get a tumor. I have had very low incidences of tumors in the rats I've owned. So, rather than spaying, please try to keep your girls in a secure cage away from males. If you MUST have a male and female together, neutering the male is a much safer option.
    Category: Health
    102 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  7. What is the best age to neuter a rat?
    Neutering can be done any time after 10 weeks of age, but for the best results to his behavior, odor, etc., 10-14 weeks is the best age.
    Category: Health
    114 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  8. Is soda and chocolate bad for rats?
    I have heard this too, from many people. Rats cannot burp or vomit, so people draw assumptions from this. However, it is not the soda itself that is risky in means of the anatomical quirk, it is the carbonation and drinking too fast (though drinking ANYTHING too fast may cause swallowed air). If a rat licks soda from fingers or a shallow puddle, it presents no trouble, and of course, they love the taste. (I don't know about you, but I don't need to burp from soda or anything that isn't "chugged.") My sister used to give my rats a little Pepsi now and then, and despite being more hyper than usual, they were fine. (Though I chastised her, because I don't feel rats should be given so much sugar!) Beer, on the other hand, is something I would never give a rat. Mainly because the alcohol would likely have bad effects on such tiny animals. Chocolate is not bad for rats in small amounts. It is not poisonous to them like it is to dogs and cats. CAUTION: Rats systems are quite similar to people and caffeine and junk food affects them the same way. DO NOT give your rat any kind of amount of anything with caffeine! (Licking off your finger from your last candy bar is okay.) 1.It will make them hyper. 2.Their system will speed up, which is very dangerous with such a high metabolism. Remember, too many sweets (including fruit) can cause obesity and tooth decay. In short, ALL JUNK FOOD IS BAD FOR RATS AND PEOPLE. Soda and chocolate is no worse than anything else. There is no reason to shorten a rat's life with these tasty but dangerous treats. If you must treat them, use crackers, cereal, or a fruit now and then...
    Category: Health
    147 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  9. My rat sits still, twitching constantly. What's wrong? How can I cure it?
    Your rat probably has hiccups. It usually goes away when they stop concentrating on it. This is going to sound silly, but startle your rat with a loud sound or even speak its name or give it a treat. The unexpected change will usually stop the hiccups. (Eating or drinking may help relax the diaphram, the muscle which spasms causing hiccups.)
    Category: Health
    216 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  10. Do rats need their nails clipped?
    Not really. They can wear their nails down by walking and playing, but some rats do keep nong, pin-like nails unless you do extra things, like putting a brick under the water bottle. Some shows require rats have their nails clipped, and you can certainly do this regularly if you like. Use a normal pet nail trimmer, and have some towels/powder handy in case you accidentally cut the quick. (Try to avoid this! Not only does it bleed, but it hurts!)
    Category: Health
    138 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  11. Can rats catch human diseases?
    Rats can catch strep throat from people, and are sensitive to other respiratory bacteria and viruses as well (such as colds, flus, etc.). If not treated, these may escalate to pneumonia. To prevent this, never let anyone who is sick (including you) hold or be near your rats much, and even when you aren't sick, wash thouroughly with disinfecting soap or wipes before and after handling your pets.
    Category: Health
    159 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  12. Can I bathe my rat? What kind of shampoo is safe?
    Yes, you can bathe your rat. Most rats will keep themselves and each other exceptionally clean, but if you are going to a show or what to make a good impression (or your rat just gets yucky), you can give him a bath. Most rats, like your typical dog or cat, do not like baths. They will squirm, and squeak, grab you with their sharp nails, and poop (a small pet fear/panic reaction). Be prepared for it. Wear gloves. Kitten or puppy shampoo works, but try to avoid anything with flea killers or other medications. No tear baby shampoo is probably better. Don't put soap or water on the rat's face, and rinse thouroughly.
    Category: Health
    178 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  13. Why do so many rats get cancer?
    Some people may say it has to do with a history of use in labs, but I doubt this theory, because most lab rats I've had and known about have been quite hearty and healthy depending on the research being done. After all, if you want to see if something causes cancer, you'll want animals that won't get cancer naturally without the added substance... The rats that most often have cancer are "feeders," rats bred to be as large as possible to be snake food. People who "rescue" these rats often find themselves immersed in a multitude of health problems. Why? Well, partly because these rats really weren't expected to be around very long, so the breeder bred for size and number rather than health. In old age, animals have an increased ammount of things malfunctioning and breaking down in their bodies. This leads to either failure of vital organs or cancer. Cancer is basically uncontrolled growth of cells. In an animal that grows quickly and lives for a short time, it is almost inevitable. Most affected are rats that are big and those that are overweight, because extra energy needs a place to go, so it may go to growing tumors. On the other hand, underweight rats are more vunerable to infections and respiratory diseases. A breeder focused on producing pets is in a balancing act of resistance to disease and low cancer rats. In general, a rat who gets tumors in old age is probably better off than a sickly rat that never has one. In general, don't dwell on cancer. Find a healthy rat, learn all you can of his/her line, and make sure you take care of the dietary and health needs.
    Category: Health
    152 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  14. Do males get cancer?
    Yes, they can. The most common cancer is mammary. These are the tumors that rat owners tend to spend a lot of time/money removing. Female rats have far more mammary tissue than males, so are affected by these eyesores MUCH more. That leads people to the conclusion that males are free from cancer, but this isn't so. Males can get mammary tumors. There are other types of less common cancers, too. Testicular cancer, skin cancer, brain cancer, bone cancer, lung cancer, basically any kind of cancer known to humans can occur in rats. The only type that isn't as frequent in males is mammary cancer (and of course ovarian, cervical, etc.), which just happens to be the most common and obvious.
    Category: Health
    145 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  15. How can I help prevent cancer in my rats?
    The same way as with people. Feed green veggies now and then, use sunscreen on low-fur areas (ears or, if hairless, all over) when outside, don't expose them to cigarette smoke, etc. Spaying practically eliminates the chances of mammary tumors, but this is a very dangerous procedure unless performed by a vet experienced with rats, especially anesthesia. Even then it can be a stress on the immune system. Tumor removal is MUCH less stressful/dangerous but may be more expensive especially recurring tumors, so use your best judgement.
    Category: Health
    120 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  16. One of my rats has started to make a strange noise, that sound like she is sawing wood. Does she have a respiratory infection?
    There are some sounds that are worrisome and some that are not so bad. Things that should alert you to a problem include any kind of wheezing or grunting sounds in the chest when a rat is breating. If there is a rattling in the head, it could indicate a respiratory infection that needs to be treated by a vet and antibiotics. Rattling in the chest is a bad sign that can indicate permanent lung damage from either an infection or exposure to pine or cedar bedding or other toxins. Some rats snore or make other noises in their sleep, which isn't any concern. Also, remember that bruxing (grinding teeth sometimes while bulging their eyes out) is a behavior that most rats do when they are relaxed and happy. Look for other symptoms of infection/illness such as lethargy, red discharge from the eyes and nose, lack of interest in food or play, etc. If you are concerned that the noise cannot be attributed to communication, take your rat to a vet for diagnosis.
    Category: Health
    121 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  17. How should you bathe a rat to keep it clean?
    Most rats keep themselves and cagemates fairly clean, so it isn't really necessary to bathe them, but if they get into something or really stink or you just want them clean for a show or company, you can bathe them. First, you need to wear long sleeves and/or gloves. Most rats don't like baths and may scratch you up trying to get away (they won't do it to hurt you or bite, though). Fill a basin with luke warm to cool water and get your rat wet. Then apply some mild shampoo. Baby shampoo is good, but you can also use kitten shampoo. Don't put any on the head. (You may only need to wash the tail, which rats don't clean often.) Then rinse very well and dry with a towel (rats don't like hairdryers). Don't bathe a rat more than once every two weeks because it can dry out their skin. Also don't bathe them less than a week before a show or their natural oils can't get their fur in the right condition. (If you just need to wash her tail, you can do it with a damp washcloth.)
    Category: Health
    147 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  18. Are feeder rats more likely to get sick and get parasites? If they are, how can I stop my rat from getting these things?
    The problem with many "feeders" is not that they are inferior rats or intrinsically unhealthy. The problems have to do with their care or lack of it in the store where they were kept. If your feeder was on proper bedding (not pine or cedar), fed a good diet, in a clean cage, and not overcrowded (in other words, he was healthy when you bought him), he should have the same health and life expectancy as any other rat. If he was kept poorly, as many pet store rats (be them "feeder" or "fancy") are, then there are some things to be wary of. Pine or cedar bedding can cause respiratory problems, which can weaken a rat's respiratory system and make them more sensitive to infections or allergies later on. The phenols also cause liver damage, which may shorten your rat's life span to under two years. Unclean cages reek of ammonia, which can cause respiratory trouble, even pneumonia and permanent lung damage. If your rat's breathing was fine when you bought it, this isn't a real worry. Overcrowding and bad beddinng can cause parasites. Examine your rat for them (dark brown or red specks or even just excessive scratching). If you suspect parasites, treat the rat and cage with bird mite spray (small mammal spray isn't as effective). Once the bugs are gone, you shouldn't see them again unless you buy contaminated litter. An inproper diet may make your rat over or underweight or even have diarrhea. A couple weeks on a proper diet (rat blocks or low protein dog food) will fix those problems. Another concern is the way the rat itself was bred. Some lines may be more prone to tumors or other inherited troubles. Make sure you examine your rat as he gets older and treat any problems as soon as they appear. Waiting makes the situation more dangerous and more expensive. For more information on preventing illness in your rats, visit this page. (Or copy and paste http://curiosityrats.tripod.com/id110.htm )
    Category: Health
    117 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  19. How can I treat a bad cold?
    Keep your rat warm and make sure he is eating and drinking. If he refuses his normal food, try feeding baby food or oatmeal, and you can put juice in his water bottle to encourage him to drink. For warmth, put a hat water bottle or electric heating pad set to low under half the cage. A humidifier can help with stuffiness. If it looks serious, like if the rat is cold to the touch or has a lot of discharge from the nose or eyes, try to see a vet as soon as possible, and he can prescibe antibiotics.
    Category: Health
    122 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  20. If I cut too far when trimming claws, how can I stop the bleeding?
    Septic powder (available in pet stores near cat claw clippers) or corn starch can be put on a small wound to stop bleeding.
    Category: Health
    137 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  21. My rat has a nose bleed almost every day. What's wrong?
    The "bleeding" is a poryphin discharge (mucus, like a runny nose). Rats can have this from stress or allergies or sickness. If she is not sneezing or acting sick, the cause may be dusty bedding or an air freshener or second-hand smoke. Try switching to a dust-free bedding like aspen shavings or corn cob litter. If you use pine or cedar change it immediately. Rats not only are sensitive to it and have discharge, but it can also cause liver damage.
    Category: Health
    99 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  22. How do you know if your rat is blind?
    Rats don't rely on sight much, so you might not be able to tell if you have a blingd rat. He might be a little clumsy and will startle easily at sounds. Or he may be so adept with his other senses that you can't tell at all.
    Category: Health
    104 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  23. Why does my rat keep itching and why does it have small scabs?
    Scabs are usually an indication of either an allergic reaction to something in the diet (grains like corn and wheat are big culprits, too much protein will also do it).
    Category: Health
    120 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  24. My three month old rat is breathing rapidly. Should I take him in to the vet tomorrow?
    Yes! Heavy breathing is a serious sign--much more serious than I would have thought when I fist saw a rat with the symptom. (I just thought he was tired or hot--but he had a severe case of pneumonia.) Most of the time, heavy breathing is a symptom of a respiratory infection that has advanced into pneumonia.

    Make sure he is warm tonight and make sure he stays hydrated (if he won't drink water, try juice, fruits, or watery vegetables).
    Category: Health
    109 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  25. I have a female baby rate approx. 6 wks old. We got her 3 days ago from a good friend who breeds and raises rats. She's wet around her "belly button"?, (the rat, not my friend) it has an odor to it. I'm trying to introduce her to our resident rat who has been a bit rough on her. They are in separate cages and only spend a few minutes together a night. Is it wet tail? stress?
    Rats have belly buttons, but they are not really anything you can see after they have fur. More likely you are looking at her vagina. The urethra is right above the vagina, and scared rats do pee, often. Also, other rats do a lot of rough grooming in that area to show dominance. If it has an odor, it is likely pee. She will stop wetting herself once she's comfortable.

    Wet tail is diarrhea. It is runny and brown. That is also a stress thing but can be a dietary issue or an infection.
    Category: Health
    130 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  26. i saw my rat eating its own feces
    Feces eating is pretty common among rodents. It certainly won't hurt them, so you don't need to discourage them. However, it may be a sign they are lacking some nutrients in their diet. Make sure your rats have a complete diet designed specifically for rats. If you are concerned, adding a rodent multivitamin to the water may help.
    Category: Health
    162 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful


  27. If my rat is bleeding from both eyes, cant open either of her eyes, & isn't moving what can I do?
    That isn't blood. It is poryphin, a red-tinted mucus discharge. It can occur from just dry air, but it could be a sign of upper respiratory infection. If she isn't moving, she is likely very sick and will need to see a vet ASAP. Keep her warm until you can get to the vet for medication.
    Category: Health
    149 visitor(s) thought this was helpful. Do you? Yes, it was helpful No, it was not helpful




Get your own FREE Faq today! 
Report Content ·  · Online Photo Albums   Free Blogs   Free Web Hosting   Cheap Domains 
powered by Powered by Bravenet bravenet.com