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Signs of Illness In Your Rat

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Signs of Illness in Fancy Rats

Pet rats are cute, furry, smart, and social. No one wants anything to be wrong with their pet, not even a pet rat. Typically, they are very hardy pets. When they get sick, they generally don't show any signs of illness until it's further into the illness, which is why it's important to be alert with your pet rat, watching for any differences in behavior, sleep patterns, and appetite.

Here are some signs of illness in rats.


Hair loss, Scratching, Rubbing, Chewing, Swelling, Redness, Scaly, Sores,Dry fur


Diarrhea, Weight loss, Poor appetite, Bloating, Discharge, Lethargy, Infertility, Excessive water consumption, Excessive Urination


Limping, Holding up a paw, Abnormal angles to limbs


Incoordination, Trembling, Seizures, Paralysis, Depression


Discharge from eyes/nose, Wheezing, Labored breathing, Hunched posture, Change in awake/sleep cycle, Increased aggression, Curled position, Rigid standing, Stiff gait, Slow chewing/lack thereof, Drooling

This little girl had severe Upper Respiratory Infection due to unsanitary conditions at the petstore. After seeing the vet, she died later the same day.

This little girl had severe Upper Respiratory Infection due to unsanitary conditions at the petstore. After seeing the vet, she died later the same day.

Upper Respiratory Infection

A common rat illnesses is upper respiratory infection. Surprisingly, or not, rats have sensitive respiratory symptoms and can acquire resperiatory infection rather easily. Unsanitary living conditions, improper nutrition, excess dust, stress, and many other causes can bring about respiratory problems.

The symptoms you want to look for include Swaggering gait, Reddish brown staining around eyes or nose, Face rubbing, Wheezing, Labored breathing, Poor appetite, Weight loss, Hunched posture, Chattering, and Lethargy.


If you notice any signs of illness in your pet rat, you should go to the vet as soon as you can. A vet can diagnose the symptoms and prescribe the proper medicines. Do not try to self-diagnose any symptoms that you may be seeing, because you could be wrong, and you never want to put your pet in any danger by self-medicating or self-prescribing something that may harm your rat. And, NEVER get medicine ideas from the internet. There are so many sites out there that contain mis-information. You do not want to take advise from a website that may be completely inaccurate. You could end up poisoning or overdosing your pet.

If you cannot make it to the vet right away, you CAN help your rat by disenfecting the cage, adding a little pedialyte to the water bottle, and putting fresh fruits and vegetables in the cages. The fresh produce will help boost nutrition levels, and hopefully boost immunity levels. But, take your pet to the vet as soon as your can. These will not cure any illness, just hopefully help boost the rat's immunity.

Rat Info

  • Housing Pet Rats
    Finding the perfect cage is a must for pet rats. Make sure you know what you're looking for in a cage and accessories.
  • Rats Vs. Mice
    When deciding upon a pet rodent, make the proper decision between rats and mice. Make sure to know the true differences.
  • Games and Toys for Pet Rats
    Find fun games for you and your pet rat(s).
  • Rat Munchies
    Proper treats for your rat(s).
  • Homemade Rat Diets
    Make a healthy, homemade rat diet for your favorit pet. Find out about proper nutrition. What you can and can't feed your rats.
  • Homemade Rat Recipes
    Find out more fun and yummy recipes that you can make for your pet rat(s).
  • Homemade Rat Treats
    Make yummy homemade treats for your beloved pet rat(s).
  • How to Train Pet Rats
    Tips for training your pet rat.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a specialized reptile veterinarian.


GalaxyRat on April 03, 2017:

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Tempy, my Rat, wheezes just a little, but I am sure I clean his cage a lot, so...

i need help ASAP!!!!!!! MY RAT IS DYING!!!!!!! on April 12, 2014:

I CAME home with my rat tonight and he wasn't moving and his back feet are purple but still breathing (barly) please help!!!!!!!!!!!!!

rex on July 22, 2013:

thanks for the advise

anonymous on February 16, 2012:

Two years ago i had a female white fancy rat from petsmart.... soon after taking her home I noticed she sneezed a lot...but i didn't think much of it cause that was the first time i had ever had a rat and the people at petsmart suggested it was just the new smells. However, approximatley 6 months later, she died of what i think was a respiratory infection.

Now, two years later, i have a fancy rat and two dumbos and i noticed the fancy and one of the dumbos (which are housed together) were starting to sneeze similarily to my other rat that sadly passed..... i know they need vet care in order to avoi the ending of my last rat but there is not a vet in my area that takes care of rats sadly..... i was wondering if there were any home remedies that could help my rats recover from there most likely respiratory infection

Kay on January 21, 2012:

Sorry for the spelling mistakes im on my phone i ment my rat bites me like im food not good, :) x

Kay on January 21, 2012:

I purchased two male rats and they constantley sneeze all the time also one of my rats have started to squeak and im very concearned i have no idea what to do. My other rat bites me all the time like im good I ever feed him throughthe cage or anything but he always bites me how can I prevent this? And I clean my rat cage once a week but my rats smell i have tried giving them a bath but they can't stand the water :( any suggestions on what else I could try ? Thanks in advance :) x

Codi on January 07, 2012:

I need help! I just purchased a rat from a pet store that was being put in a cage with wood shavings. (NOT GOOD) I took him in eagerly and instantly took him home. I do not know how long he had been in the wood shavings but I switched him over to care fresh, the soft tissue kind that is great for rats. I recommend this to anyone and everyone. Sully loves it! He has a luxury rat condo, with a wheel, three ramps, three levels, a pouch to hide in, a hammock, chew toys, a tunnel, a ball to retrieve treats from, a cloth to sleep on and fresh water in a bottle along with rat blocks with his food split fifty fifty. I give him fresh fruits, such as apples and pieces of banana. I also give him lettuce, carrots with his meal. Sometimes I will give him a tiny broke off piece of fresh bread to go along with this. His water that I have separate from his bottle, is diluted with droplets of apple juice (100% juice) and I currently have a heating pad on low underneath one side of his cage. I've been removing poo from his cage and placing it in his litter box. As well as shifting it around and making sure everything is clean. I've placed a towel over the front side of the cage, but the other sides are open and he has plenty of air flow but there are no drafts to make the situation worse. When I brought him home, he was sneezing constantly. Rubbing his face a lot. I thought, okay, new rats are supposed to sneeze, this is normal. I waited a day. Then it got worse. I had fallen asleep and heard him making this noise, its indescribable or hard to mimick.It woke me, actually. Like a sneeze, cough, thing? I'm not sure. That's when I realized Sully, my boy rat, is sick. I looked everywhere and knew instantly he had a URI. I was told to give him sudafed raspberry flavored nasal decongestant syrup 0.5 mg which is a tiny drop from a dropper every 4-6 hours, only 2-3 times a day, no more for than a week. He shakes at times and when I put my hand on his fur it moves away from me. The skin? Hard to explain. I took him into the bathroom with me and ran a hot shower. We both sat in the floor and I let the humidity open everything up for him for 10 minutes and took him back to his cage. He IS eating/drinking but gets sudden bursts of energy out of nowhere. (That must be common for younger rats) and is still sneezing. Since I've given him his syrup the noise hasn't occurred. My mom isn't a very sensitive woman and doesn't have much sympathy for rats like me. She refuses to take him to the vet. I'm afraid something is going to happen to my baby Sully. I love him with all of my heart and he is the sweetest baby. Just thinking about this makes me want to cry because I know he needs to see a vet and get antibiotics. Can someone recommend something? ANYTHING? PLEASE? He looks so pitiful :( Is it possible for me to go to the pet store and mention that they gave me a sick rat? What will they do for me? Pay the medical expenses? HELP.

gareth on August 16, 2011:

@ Whitney05 thanks very much for your reply, I'm so happy it has been 24 hours and she seems already 100% better, she is moving around allot more, not as hunched and stopped grinding her teeth continuously, still has her strong weezing but. Anyway i think she will be fine with another 2 weeks of treatment and love LOL. I'm surprised how quickly the antibiotics seen to be working..

Ps: sorry for all the spelling mistakes and wrong words on the last posts. I'm on my mobile :-)

gareth on August 16, 2011:

@jesse I wouldn't worry to much, as when I first brang my two rats home they sneezed and hadn't eaten for a while. My friend who is a longtime rat owner informed me that this is common as new smells and places may just mess with there alergies for a little bit but they quickly overcome it, and that they are still exploring there inviroment so they might not eat for a few hours.

jesse on August 15, 2011:

hey i just got a female fancy rat today, shes been sneezing a little no stuff coming out of eyes or hunched position or anything like that i haven't seen her eat yet ive only had her for maybe 2 or 3 hours tops i think, is it bad that shes sneezing or is it just allergies, plz respond im worried

Whitney (author) from Georgia on August 15, 2011:

baytril is a great antibiotic. If the rat is too sickly, but it's sort of like if a person waits too late for treatment, it's a long hard road to recovery. Good luck

gareth on August 15, 2011:

Hey there, I'm pretty sure my rat has a respitory infection because I got home from a four day holiday yesterday and she didn't look to good at all, she dropped allot of weight, hunched over and slow while grinding her teeth. She is very much attached to me and this is the first time I have left her alone, I think she might have been stressed wondering where I was. Anyway I took her to the vet immediately and was prescribed baytril oral and vibraet, I was wondering if this is the most successful antibiotics ? It's been 12 hours since I started treating her and she seems to not have improved or gotten worse. She is stays in one place for ages unless I come to the cage she comes to greet me like the beautiful rat she is. I have been feeding her heaps of water through a siringe oraly and feeding her.. I really hope she doesn't pass or I will be devostated.. can anyone tell me what antibiotics successfully cured your rat?

riocus on August 05, 2011:

i have a rat that is quiet an old rat we have had him for 3 years and when we got him he was a fairly young rat. Last year my other rat died and he had misty eyes and hair loss and loss of appetite and he never stopped drinking and now my rat now has that and he also has redness around his nose/ eyes, he can't put any pressure on his front right paw and he also has this weird smell when he cuddles up to people, you smell this smell and it is kind-of like a rotten skin smell but i am scared of taking him to the vet. Should i take him to the vet or should i keep him at home and also, if i took him to the vet would he be put down because he is an old rat and they would not be able to help him and if they did would he get better or stay the same.

Amber on May 31, 2011:

To Michelle-

I previously had two rats that did the same thing. They made squeaky noises, sneezed a lot, had discharge, etc. The noises are not a good thing, they probably have an upper respiratory infection and I also found a disease called mycoplasmosis. It's a serious condition and is contagious. I would definitely get them into a vet. I couldn't afford the usual vet either so I looked online and contacted smaller vets to see if they knew any small run vets that could work with my wages, or set up a payment plan. I would definitely get them in to a vet asap. It's very hard watching an infection progress :(.

Best of luck.

michelle on May 18, 2011:

Hi I just got a baby dumbo rat 3 weeks ago and all was well, I decided to get another rat from a different pet store, the newer one is a little older and it has been having excessive sneezing.... I'm worried something might be wrong.. The youngest one is also sneezing a lot now and both are making little cute squeeking noises but I don't know if that's a good thing or not .. I am very worried and I can't afford to take them to a vet , please help ..

Brandy on April 19, 2011:

I got my rat about a month ago. After having her for a few weeks I noticed she was getting really huge around the belly. She's still very young and when I got her she had been with males. I believe she may be pregnant, but now I'm noticing a spot on her underbelly that is losing fur. Is she ripping it out because she's nervous of having a litter so young? I'm starting to worry. She should be having them any day, if not then she might have something else wrong with her.

Sarah on April 14, 2011:


Bonnie is exactly like my rat, Sugar. When we first saw her at the pet store, she was perfectly normal. It was only until we brought her home that she started sneezing and wheezing. She seemed fine. She got along well with our other rats. She was calm, but she had her moments of being hyperactive and playful. Her sneezing and wheezing never made the other ones sick. We assumed she had allergies. Every time one of my family members held her, she would lick their hands. Today she is not feeling well. She has labored breathing and fluffy fur( a lot of my rats had this when they died). When I held her, she didn't attempt to climb out of my hands or lick them. It felt like she didn't have much of a spine. She won't eat or drink. She just slowly wanders around the cage trying to find a place to lie down and rest. My family believes her time is almost up.

samantha on April 04, 2011:

I just got a baby boy rat about 5 days I have 4 other. Rats that iv bread an raised from babys . But my new rat millow I got from grummerts an seems to. B very thin. He's really lovein he eats a lot an drinkns but he doesn't seem like he's happy. All my rats are happy an very spoiled they've got a huge jungle jim an a ferrette cage. But he does not like being in it so I put him in a tank . What should I do about his weight he shows no signs of anything but stress an is jus very skinny I'm worried he might end up diein on me he's probley gotta be only 6 weeks old for his size can u help me

anthony on March 12, 2011:

hello i have had my rat for almotst two and a half years is it normal for them to live that long and he weezes and he has red skin and losing weight

but i do not understand how it could be a respiritory infection because he is been in a cleen cage all his life always had food and water and he lives in a dust free enviromnet so is it just because he is old that these symotoms are happing or does he neeed to go to the vet because i have no money for the vet

Iris on March 09, 2011:

my rat iris has been sneezing and making these weird squeaking noises all the time i have made an appointment for her, but i was wondering if you know if it is possibly respiratory infection?

riley on January 09, 2011:

hi my rat is about 2 years old and a while back she got a large bump on her nose and after a few weeks it fell off and i thought she was fine but now it makes a big black scab and makes a big bump and falls off after a few weeks and scabs over again she also makes a lot of grunts since this started so i think it might also be a repotory problem ive read that it might be an absess any thing will help. thanks.

JayJay on January 03, 2011:

Hi, ive had my rat for about 4 months and it seems like ever since i got her shes been sneezing. After about a month she had a lot of the symptoms of a respiratory problem but then all of the symptoms went away.. Except for the sneezing. And now tonight shes been making weird noises when shes breathing. I cant bring her to the vet, so i was wondering how long rats can live before they die from it? Thanks in advance

bambi1214 on December 31, 2010:

Hi, I just wonder if any of you guys heard about Rimadyl injectable? I had a pet rat which I think he had a respiratory illness, i rushed him to the vet which I can see some sign of illness..his eyes is half closed, he refused to eat, hunched position, red nose, lethargic and fluffy. I rushed him to the vet and the vet injected him Rimadyl and baytril.. When I got home he was dead I just cant believed him his gone away so quick I am so sad. Is RIMADYL injection IS SAFE FOR RATS??????


Whitney (author) from Georgia on December 14, 2010:

Sounds more like respiratory infection, which needs to be treated by a vet with an antibiotic.

Since the existing rat is so old, the introduction may take a while. Sometimes when they reach that age, they won't accept a cage mate. At one and a half, the rat is considered a senior.

Sara on December 12, 2010:

I recently purchased a girl fancy rat at pet smart, her name is Moss. She is approxamently 2 months old. I have an older rat Milo approxamently a year and a half, what do you think would be the best way to introduce them? Also, Moss has been sneezing since we got her , her eyes are fully opened, but there is red stuff around them. When she sneezes it is wet. Milo also has been sneezing. Is this normal? What should I do? I don't know if this will help or not but my other pet rat Rizo died if phnemonia, she lost alot of weight and was sneezing, she lost her appetite and died a week ago. Are moss and Milo coming done with the same thing Rizo had? Please respond

jim on November 27, 2010:

what should i du if my rat has small scabs all over it's back because that is how my last rat died

Whitney (author) from Georgia on November 15, 2010:

You need to bring the rats inside. They definitely don't need to be outside during winter as they will either freeze or get sicker than they already are. You need to seek medical treatment for respiratory infection. You will need to bring them inside. I suggest separating the male and female, as you will get babies.

Steph on November 14, 2010:

My rat lives outside in a large cage with another male rat. They are well sheltered but the other night they may have gotten wet as it started to rain before we got the tarp over the cage. We have since changed the bedding etc but Max is sneezing worse than usual and has red discharge around his nose. Will it go away or is it something more sinister? Max has sneezed since the beginning of winter.

Linda on November 13, 2010:

Sorry I commented on the wrong page. I meant to ask this question on the page about training rats.

Linda on November 13, 2010:

I have three male rats approximately 7 months old. I bought them from a breeder when they were 3 months old. They will come out of their cage and run all over me, but they are very skittish and will fun back into the cage if I move to suddenly or if they hear a noise. I keep their cage in my bedroom, and I would love to move it to a more high traffic area, but we also have three cats and I don't want the cats to see the rats as dinner, or for the rats to be stressed by the constant cat presence. How can I help my rats to be less skittish?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on November 10, 2010:

Stick with veggies just once a week and a quality rat block the rest of the week.

Julia on November 10, 2010:

Hi whitney i really need your help with my facy rat max hes a boy and i just got him i was wondering what toys i should get him he is very active i got him a wheel and his cage is really big and i was wondering how much veggies i should give him :D thanks whitney

Whitney (author) from Georgia on November 09, 2010:

You need to keep them separate. You risk pregnancy and bullying. It sounds like the female is badly stressed.

Alex on November 08, 2010:

Hi Whitney,

Our baby rat Crystal is two months old and is accompanied in her cage by her brother Badger, both being very friendly, cheerful and happy to be handled by us. We noticed a change in Crystal's behavior over the last week or so. She became more lethargic and less social. Last weekend, she got very ill, face covered with red mucus, eyes almost shut, curled up very still for hours, breathing extremely fast and noisy, drinking ridiculous amounts of water. At one point, she even ended up twitching with all four paws in the air. We truly thought she was gone and did our best to comfort her in her last hours. Her brother looked after her even more. By next day she made almost a full recovery. She was looking better, more active, although somewhat disoriented, eating quite a lot. It seemed to be the fastest and least expected recover imaginable. Today sadly, she appears to be sick again. Not as bad as several days ago, but very inactive and having trouble walking. She is however still eating and trying her best to recover.

Our vet (experienced with rats) is unable to see her until Thursday and most other vets in the area are not skilled or even prepared to diagnose her. She is looked after by us like a human being (if not better) and her cage is kept very clean! Her brother who is always keen to get out of cage is insisting on looking after her and is showing no interest in coming out!

Any assistance or advice would be highly appreciated!!

Thank you kindly!

Whitney (author) from Georgia on October 22, 2010:

It's either stress, allergies to the bedding, or respiratory.

Ruby on October 22, 2010:


I was wondering if you could help me? I bought two female dumbo rats from the pet store three days ago. I know pet stores aren't good places to buy rats, but I checked them all out before I bought them and they were in great health. I bought the two rats home (Bonnie & Peanuts) and put them in their lovely big cage. I use a soft-ish cat litter for the bedding, which was recommended by the pet store manager who uses it for his rats. Both of the rats seem very happy, maybe a little shy, but they are eating, drinking, climbing around, etc. Bonnie is the friendliest out of the two and always jumps onto my shoulder from the cage.

The day I bought them home, Bonnie started sneezing and making funny noises. Peanuts does it occasionally too, but not as much as Bonnie. Bonnie always licks my fingers when I put my hand in the cage! (They don't bite). They were both absolutely fine in the pet store.... The sneezing only strted when I bought them home. There is no discharge, pus or gunk around their eyes/noses/mouths, and when they do sneeze it's dry - nothing comes from their noses. Their cage is clean and I clean it regularly.

Is this just the stress of coming to a new environment? Should I be worried?

Thank you for your help! I really really appreciate it!


As I said, they both seem happy and are eating and drinking and running around. Do you think this is just the stress of moving into a

Nikoman15 on October 01, 2010:

My rat.... syd.... i knew it all along she had problems but my dad said "No she doesnt" she was sneezing and weezing... i knew she would die.... R.I.P Syd :(

Danielle on September 24, 2010:

One of three of my rats, Mortimer, (aprox. 1 and a half) has been having what seems like trouble breathing lately. He's very lethargic, but I've had him for roughly a year now and that's pretty much his personality. He wheezes almost constantly. When I put my ear to his chest though it doesn't seem to be coming from there. Maybe his nose? His nose is dry. He has a normal appetite but he's pretty skinny. I noticed a bruise on his back today which is probably from one of the other two rats that I have. And his dense fur has some light patches missing. Since he's a hooded rat it's harder to notice with out looking for it (the bruise, that is). I isolated him from my other boys yesterday so that I could watch him more closely. Is there anything you could think of that might be why Mortimer is having the labored breathing and almost constant (wheezing?) noise?

Chelly on September 15, 2010:

My rat suddenly (and by suddenly, I mean within three days) has brownish red splashes of color on her tail. She's a cream and gray hooded rat, and roughly 2 1/2 months old. Is this just her color coming in as she matures or something I should be worried about? It seems quite fast for a color change.



Whitney (author) from Georgia on September 04, 2010:

Take a q-tip and gently rub in on the inside of the ear to dry it out. The water in the ear shouldn't have an effect on much except causing an issue with the equilibrium, causing the rat to circle or have a head tilt.

leanne on September 03, 2010:

My rat got water in his ears. SHould i take him to the vet?

He is acting really funny, really jumpy and is letting me push him onto his back? Please hurry and answer, Im really worried

Whitney (author) from Georgia on August 18, 2010:

I wouldn't say that a vet prescribing wrong medicine was to get money, but because of not enough knowledge. Definitely find a new vet for your rats. Rats aren't like dogs, and not all medicines are safe for them. Even if one medicine is the cure for a dog, that doesn't mean it is safe for rats to have for a similar illness. Clavamox is a good one to use for respiratory illness. Baytril is another one that is safe.

The new one should have been separated to begin with to make sure it wasn't sick, so that it couldn't give the other rat any illness that it didn't have. Even if the one is sick, more than likely, they both are at this point.

I would just wait it out since they're both eating and acting fine. The one rat may just breath a little deeper. Like people, they're all a little different. If you notice any small signs of change in appetite or behavior, definitely take both to a vet.

Trotterz on August 17, 2010:

I have 2 beautiful bubs both female, 1 is 8 weeks old

and my newest edition is 6 weeks old.. The newest one seems to be breathing a little heavier than the older one.. I cant compare new and old behaviours as ive had her one night.. Looking at them breathe side by side their breathing doesnt seem much different, there is no signs of porphrin and she eats n drinks fine. I clean the cage every 2 days, water n food bowls daily and a big clean once a week. Ive had rats die from respiratory problems due to wrong medication adminstered from a vet who just wanted to get paid, is this enough cleaning or am i just being paranoid, also should i seperate them if i think one is sick or should i give it a few days so they become accustomed to one another.

Lily and Honey on August 09, 2010:

Hi, I have two rats that I purchased approximately three months ago. The lady I purchased them from told me that they were "six months old or so". One of them has been very, very ill recently and I am extremely worried. She had become lethargic and started to seem ill about a month and a half ago and I was worried at first but she got better. A little while later, about a month ago, she started to get ill again so I separated her from my other rat. I left her in the larger cage and put my other rat in a smaller cage. And then she started getting really ill. It got to the point where she couldn't move. She would lay on her side and her little hands would curl into fists and her toes would curl, too. I was very worried but she started getting better, so I thought she was ok. Then it happened again, only this time it was worse. Her eyes were full of blood and she has a big blotch of blood under her left nostril. She was rubbing at her head, trying to clean it type thing very often but every time she tried to do this, she'd fall backward or fall over, so I had to hold her so she could clean her head. I was so upset, I didn't understand what was happening... but then she got better again. I moved her to the smaller cage. She slumps over to her left side and is really wobbly. I was so frightened that she'd get ill again but she was doing so well. She had a lot of her energy back and her eyes had completely healed... and then it happened again... This time there was a little blood around her mouth but it just looked like a few very little scratches with a small amount of dried blood. She was making wheezing type sounds, it almost sounded like light squeaking. She would twitch quite often and she really seemed like she was in pain. She tried to clean her head once or twice but she couldn't, even when I supported her back and held her. She just lied there and I honestly didn't think she would make it much longer. This was just the day before yesterday. Today she seems a lot better but she still seems ill. She's lethargic and she wants me to hold her a lot, when I try to put her down she'll wobble up to the top of her little plastic house and she'll try to stand up to get me to hold her but she can't stand. She's very wobbly and she doesn't stretch her body out, she stays slumped together on all four of her feet. I'm so scared that she's going to pass away. I called a few veterinarians but they told me they didn't know what it was and that I'd have to bring her in. This is a huge problem because my family is very poor. It would cost more than $58 just to get her checked, plus the cost of medicine. When she gets really ill and seems like she's in so much pain, I honestly feel as though I could die from the sadness that I feel while watching her. She's my first friend since my best friend passed away a few years aggo and I love her more than anything. I don't think I could bare losing my best human friend and then my new best animal friend.

Jennifer on August 03, 2010:

I have a year old rex rat who has recently become paralyzed from her mid-back down. We have been taking care of her for about 4 days, she is now showing signs of some infection in her vaginal area, its all swollen and sticking out and there is blood all the time. We are cleaning her 2-4 times a day and drying her off well, put soft towels in the cage and change them daily. I love her so much but I am afraid this is something bad and I am afraid I will have to put her to sleep. Please if anyone has any suggestions or anything at all I would love to hear it please, I really love my coraline!

Whitney (author) from Georgia on July 25, 2010:

Annie, I would have the rat checked out by a vet. Do you notice any other signs of illness?

XxXSummerXxX on July 24, 2010:

I just want to say that what you are doing here is amazing and you deserve anything to have. I love rats so much and it's great to see someone helping the rats and there owners! x



Annie on July 23, 2010:

Just wondering

My daughter has 2 lovely rats. She is away for the weekend and 1 of her girls is not showing any inclination to come out of the hammock - even for food. This is not like her at all. Should I be concerned?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on July 21, 2010:

Sara, I would just keep an eye on it. Make sure she's still eating, drinking, and acting fine. It could just be one of her noises, like you said.

xxroxyxx, It could be the weather, but I'm not sure. In a way respiratory illness in rats, is like a cold in humans. You may want to see a vet and get them both on an antibiotic.

xxroxyxx on July 21, 2010:

I own two rats which we bought at about 6 weeks of age and have since had them for six months without any hassles. Lately however one of my rats, Tony, has began to sneeze. He has not red discharge and has never done this before. I haven't changed his environment. The weather has been cold and wet lately. Is this related? He sneezes quite often (though nothing comes out) and sometimes has 'sneeze attacks'. My other rat has began to make a noise that could or couldn't be bruxing and his sides rapidly go in and out. I'm not sure if its good or not. The rats have not been eating much lately which is odd seeing as they love to eat. They have a large and comfortable cage. Please tell me whats wrong.

Sara on July 20, 2010:

She's done it a couple times in her cage when I wasn't playing with her and she's done it when I've been playing with her. She's not wheezing and it seems like she's breathing fine. It's just odd because she just started making that noise last week. I've read they're not suppose to make that noise. But then again it could be one her playing noises.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on July 20, 2010:

When is she making the noise? During any activity or just sporadically? Is she wheezing or anything like that? Or basically just making a grunting noise?

Sara on July 19, 2010:

My youngest dumbo rat Bambi (4mths old) has been making sort of a grunting-guinea pig sound. It's not constant or anything and she just started doing it earlier this week. She eats fine, drinks fine, and plays fine. Her coat is still smooth and healthy. There's nothing around her nose or eyes. She's sneezed just maybe a couple of times. Please tell me I'm worried over nothing. She's my baby girl.

Nicole Rose Martinez on July 17, 2010:

Hi my rat{Ratitoulee} is about 1 year old... as i came to check on her i noticed that she was heavily breathing and she is skinny. But my other rat {Roxy} is perfectly fine. We had just bought Roxy 3 weeks ago and i have had Ratitoulee since last May... i dont know if i should give her more viamins or take her to the vet. Im really worried about her. She hasnt gotten aggresive but she wont eat or drink. My hamster was the same way before she died but it was probably from old age... but im really scared! i dont know what to do!! Would you help me please!!!!!

Winsome from Southern California by way of Texas on July 17, 2010:

Whitney I am bowled over--what you have done here is so uncommonly wonderful I am in awe. You deserve every one of your 2620 fans. Amazing,(he walks away shaking his head...)amazing. =:)

XxXSummerXxX on July 14, 2010:

my rat (summer) had to be put to sleep not that long ago. We took her to the vet quite a few times and unfortunately drastic action had to be took.

She had a HUGE tumour just in between her hind legs, and I immediately thought that it was maybe just lots of liquid or a clump of built up fat. Correct me if I am wrong and if that cannot happen! She was my first rat. Well, one of the vets said it might have been a tumour built up of cancer. I was quite shocked. She was running about as happy as she could be and eating, drinking perfectly. Her behaviour hadn't changed.The vet said that this was not unusual and that rats were prone to this, and, as I said, she was put to sleep. I will be moving out in a few years and am going to get a rat as soon as I do, and would like a few tips to avoid this happening again!



Whitney (author) from Georgia on July 06, 2010:

Lori, it's hard to tell right off the bat. Just look for signs of health.

Almostgotit, pet stores aren't the best place to find a pet. Their fine for supplies, but not the pet. I would locate a breeder if you can. I haven't seen too many decent cages under $50. Try finding used cages on craigslist or something. Just make sure that disinfect carefully and thoroughly. Building will definitely cost more than $50; avoid cedar and pine. Be away they will chew the wood and it will need to be replaced frequently. No chlorox wipes; try finding a pet safe spray disinfectant at the pet store.

Remember sometimes the more you try, the less quality it can be. Try to keep it simple.

Almostgotit. on July 05, 2010:

I am going to get a dumbo rat soon and I need an advice on where to get a healthy happy one. Is petsmart or feeders supply a good choice? Also I need a 2-3 floor cage for under 50$ because my dad is low on cash. My dad suggested getting a used one, is this okay? I wanted to build a cage by the supplys involve wood,plastic and metal. Are there possible toxins I should look out for and If there is is, can clorox disinfectent wipes a safe choice to clean and disinfect? sorry for the numerous questions but I want to get the most out of my rats short life of 3-5 years. I would hate for the rat to suffer due to poor ownership.

Lori s. on July 04, 2010:

Hi Whitney,

What is the best way to pick out a new rat? I have tried sticking my hand in the cage to see if one comes up to me. Is there any way to tell what kind of personality a new rat has? I am thinking of getting another one. what should I look for?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on July 01, 2010:

It sounds like you are doing what you can until you get her to the vet. Try offering fresh foods as well. They will be more beneficial than the baby food.

angdmoll on June 30, 2010:

I have two rats. One which is 2,Baby,and the other just turned one,Princess.Princess I believe has a respiratory infection. I have no idea how she got it because the rats are caged seperately and Baby shows no sign of any illness, she is being treated for mites though. Princess does have an appetite but she seems to go into a fit when she trys to eat, I thought she was going to throw up eventually until I found out rats can't throw up. Because of the way I am paid I will not be able to get her to a vet till next week. I've been trying the steam from the shower to keep her congestion loose and have been feeding her baby food so she can get food down. Is there anything else you can suggest that I can do till I can get her to the vet?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on June 17, 2010:

It could be excitement or stress. Make sure the rat is still eating and acting normal.

Luke on June 15, 2010:

Hey first off I'd like to thank you for what you've done the past couple of years and doing it because you care. I hav a Rat (Melvin) that I got on Saturday it's now Wednesday and he is really active and playful but he sneezes quite often and makes weird noises. He seems to like eating lol but I've never seen him drink just heard it at 3 in the morning :) but I I don't know becuz I haven't seen any blood or redness and he seems fine. He is my first rat so I might just be over reacting. Thanks, Luke

Whitney (author) from Georgia on June 15, 2010:

I would have them checked out by a vet. It is possible that they, or at least the one, has a respiratory concern. Bullying and fighting is a big concern as well, which is where two cages may be needed.

The cage is WAY to small, and not sufficient for two rats, much less one. You need to get an appropriate sized cage.

Katy on June 14, 2010:

A few months ago, I adopted two adult dumbo rats from the PetCo adoption program. They had a previous owner who surrendered them. I have no idea what age they are, but they are both males, and closely bonded brothers. They are not social at all, which I am working on, but I have begun to notice some odd things about them. First of all, their cage area is splattered with what appears to be blood. I am not sure if this is because they are fighting, and drawing blood, or if one of them has a respiratory infection, in which they cough up blood. I am very sure that only the larger one, Bernard, has respiratory problems, because he tends to sneeze and chatter. The other rat, Remy, seems completely fine. Whatever the cause, they haven't had any sort of reaction to the blood or seem to affected by it until now. Yesterday I thought that Bernard had died, because he wasn't responding to food or the cage being tapped on. It wasn't until i actually poked Bernard that he responded. He was very lethargic. I thought he might be dehydrated, so I put him in a shoebox so that he could be separated from his brother while I tried to help him. I noticed that he was really off because normally when I try to play with him, he screams whenever he gets picked up, but when I picked him up this time, he went limp. I also noticed that his eyes were bugging out, and had discharge. When he was placed in the shoebox, he had trouble standing and was very lethargic, and tipped over a bit. I had a syringe handy, so I squirted some water into his mouth, and that seemed to perk him up. I got him some lettuce, and washed it with some water, so that he would get hydrated while he ate it. He seemed better after that, and even ate, but before he was completely disinterested in food or water. Today, i once again found him in his stupor in his cage, so I brought him out and gave him a bit of water, and now he is eating both dry food, and the carrots and lettuce that I put in the cage. I don't think that his brother is agitating him (I made sure), because he is helping out Bernard and protecting him from me. I moved them from their large rat cage, which is an aquarium, with a wire cage with ramps on top, for exercise. Since yesterday, I have kept them in a large hamster cage, so that Bernard does not have to travel to get his food. I noticed that he is also sitting hunched and on the back area of his butt, with his feet underneath him, like a human might, but normally he stands on his hind feet to eat, so that his paws are free, it just looks very silly, and I'm worried that it's a spinal injury. I thought to include everything because these are my first rats, and my family doesn't believe that rats are worthy of vet care. Please help, thanks!

stars439 from Louisiana, The Magnolia and Pelican State. on June 12, 2010:

Thank you for and interesting hub. GBY

matthew on June 11, 2010:

over the past couple months my rat has lost so much wheight that you can see his spine, hes lost a lot more hair on his back and is sometimes dragging his back legs. im not sure what to do because he doesnt seem to act any different than usual, he still runs to the front of the cage to see me when i walk in the room, his excitement is still the same when i let him out to roam. i think it odd though that hes only loosing hair from the shoulders down. is there something wrong with him or is he just old? i was told that they live 2-4 years and hes around 3.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on June 07, 2010:

Is the rat active at all? If it's not eating or drinking anything, that's definitely not a good sign, and I would recommend having the rat seen by a vet. The stress will go away with time and adaption to the new environment, as long as there is nothing else wrong with her health.

Anna on June 05, 2010:


I purchased two female fancy rats a week ago. Neither will come out of the cage yet, so I've been trying to build trust by giving them time and treats. It's been successful (they are coming out of the igloo much more often); however, it was neccessary for me to clean the cage because of the smell. I attempted to get them out of the cage so I could clean it, but they seemed very upset with me, so I cleaned it with them inside. I also changed the bedding from carefresh to towels because they seemed to be sneezing quite a bit.

To get to the point, they seemed very stressed while I cleaned it out. While one of them has since recovered, the other climbed to the upper shelf and hasn't (to the best of my knowledge) come down since. It's been 24 hours, and I'm worried that she will never be the same happy, active rat she was again. I'm also very worried about her not eating and drinking, as well as sleeping in her urine and feeces.

I have been handing her pieces of food and holding the water bottle up to her every so often. Should I continue this, or should I make her come down to eat and drink? Will her stress go away with time or could I do something else to make her less stressed? Thanks in advance.

Lori s. on June 02, 2010:

Hi Whitney,

I know this is a rat site but I am hoping you can help me. I have a siberian dwarf hamster with a bad cut on her backside. Is there anything I can do to help her. We don't have a vet who specializes in small animals. She is moving around well and she is eating but I am afraid she'll get an infection. I have been cleaning her cage more often and disinfecting it but I am wondering if there is anything that is safe to put on her wound to keep it from getting infected? Please help asap.

tawny, synester, piggy, clyde on June 01, 2010:

synester had gotten so sick that i had to hand feed him and give him water cause he couldnt move his legs and he died on 5-29-10 in my arms it seemed like hew couldnt breathe please help if you have any ideas what might have happened

tawny, synester, piggy, clyse on May 27, 2010:

my rat synester is getting really skinny and has yellow diarrea and blood around the eyes and is not acting himself help me!!!!!!!!

Whitney (author) from Georgia on May 24, 2010:

It depends on bullying, as that is a big concern with rats of different sizes. In most cases, they're not just going to sleep 24/7. You may want to consider a vet to check him out. Otherwise, just make sure that the rat is still eating and drinking fine, and that there's no bullying going on.

Ellen on May 22, 2010:

I have 2 baby rats, got them a week ago. one is really lively and curious and much bigger than the other. the smaller one seems fine, he drinks and eats and if i get him out he will explore a little but more often than not he will just find a dark place and sleep, he seems to sleep an awful lot. is this normal?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on May 17, 2010:

That is good they're doing better. Just keep an eye out. Sometimes they will rough play, and you may hear squeaks.

Yolanda on May 17, 2010:

it seems to be the smaller one(Frankie)chasing the bigger one (Stewie)more, but once the bigger one starts to push him away the smaller one kind of freezes and falls on his back immediately, so I'm guessing it's a dominance/submission thing. I have kept them in the same cage now for the last couple days and although I do still hear a squeak now and then, they are doing much better and even sleeping in the same hammock starting this morning! Thanks!

Whitney (author) from Georgia on May 17, 2010:

I would leave them in there until you are able to determine if they're playing or fighting. If there's no blood, it's probably play. Unless you see one rat constantly chasing the other, then it could be a little bullying or the rats just trying to determine dominance.

Is one rat chasing another more, or is it about 50/50?

Yolanda on May 15, 2010:

Hi again. I have 2 rats named Stewie and Frankie. I got Frankie back from the vet almost 2 weeks ago and he's doing much better but now I have another question I was hoping you could answer. I've been introducing them for the last couple weeks, putting their cages next to each other, putting each in the others cage for periods of time, putting them in neutral places together, I cleaned out the one cage they are going to end up in together with vinegar to get rid of any scent and have put them together but I can't tell if they're wrestling or playing? They are constantly chasing each other and tackling (nonstop) to the point that I end up separating them again because one or the other will squeak like they're hurt, but neither is drawing blood on the other at all... should I just leave them or keep separating them? Thanks!

Whitney (author) from Georgia on May 10, 2010:

Sounds like the one has a respiratory infection and needs antibiotics. Stress can be a cause of sneezing, but not necessarily wheezing.

Respiratory infections are common among pet store small mammals.

wglenda on May 08, 2010:

hi, my son and daughter bought a rat each today. This is our first experience with rats and I was hoping to get some advice. My son's rat seems fine, but my daughter's rat is breathing very rapidly and wheezing (or making loud noises when it breathes at least). She has compared the two rats more closely now and says her rat is skinnier than the other one though I would presume they both came from the same litter. She seems to be active and I havent noticed any nasal discharge or sneezing, so I'm not sure if it would be a respiratory infection or not. Could this be caused from stress? They apparently only got to the pet shop today so I'd say it was a stressful day. We didn't notice the wheezing at the pet shop, but did as soon as we got them home. I'm not sure how old they are. Would appreciate any help or advice, thanks.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on May 06, 2010:

If it's not a scab type lump, then I highly doubt it's a bug bite. If it was a bug bite, the rat would chew and scratch at it, causing it to scab. It is possible to be a tumor or some sort of abscess, as both are actually common among rats. You can watch it, and if it doesn't go away after a few weeks, it's probably not going to. You will probably have to have a vet check it out to diagnose it and treat it, if he can treat it.

Emma on May 06, 2010:

I got two female pet rats for christmas. They are sisters. I named them Chloe and Roxie.They are both 8 months old.

Latly i have noticed that Roxie has a lump on one side of her belly, it is the same colour of her fur which is blonde. I asked my local pet store and they said it could be a bug bite. I would hate to think that she has cancer.

She is eating, drinking, climbing and playing as usual. And it dosent seem to bother her when i touch it. I also asked my friend who is very good with rats and he said that it could also be a bite. What is it? please say it is not cancer!!!

I am only a 12 year old so i havent goy enough money to pay for a vet bill!!!!!!

Whitney (author) from Georgia on May 03, 2010:

Was the vet familiar with treating pet rats? What was the antibiotic? There could have been a reaction with the medication.

Kerrie on May 01, 2010:

My rat died a few days ago after a vet trip, the doctor even said she just bit her tounge gave her antibiotics and sent us on our way, but when we got home she passed in my hands.

Her tounge was HUGE and black, and she was fine the day before.

Any ideas?

lori s. on April 29, 2010:

Thanks so much whitney! I do have an old towel. I think squinch will love it.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on April 28, 2010:

It's something that you have to work slowly at. Start with hand feeding treats while the rat is inside the cage and the door is open to the cage. Let the rat come out to explore without having to chase him down throughout the cage to get him to come out. You want to build trust. The more trust that the rat has in you, the friendlier it will be.

WandHLover on April 27, 2010:

Thank you for helping me, i will TRY my BEST at getting my poor Indi to the vet as soon as i could. ;D Oh and i have another question. If your rat ( my friends problem) hates you, well almost, how can you help it socialize with you better? As in handling and playing with it outside and inside the cage.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on April 27, 2010:

lori, i am not sure about fleece. And old towel would be fine. The fleece will still fray when chewed, and more than likely, it'll be chewed.

WandHlover I would strongly urge a vet. Seizures can be a serious matter, and the lose of hair is definitely a sign of a sign condition or some sort whether it be an external parasite, allergy, or something else. Without a vet the condition may worsen.

WandHLover on April 27, 2010:

Hey i have a rat and i think something is wrong with him.I bought him from the local pet store, it was the only one in the area that had rats!! Well so this is his problem. A couple of times i think that he had a seizure. Now he is loosing hair on his back and there are a lot of marks all over it, i have noticed that they are all in a straight line or you could say in rows. He is also really jiterish but i don't think that that is a disease problem. I REALLY LOVE HIM but my parents said that "we won't take him to the vet because..." ya exactly like that. I hope you could give me some tips on what it is and what to do.

lori s on April 27, 2010:

I took your advice Whitney and went to buy squinch a hammock. Unfortunately, they cost way more than I can afford. I was thinking of using an old piece of fleece that I have, sewing it to make a tube and then attaching it to the top of his cage. Is fleece safe for him? I know that it doesn't fray. What do you think?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on April 27, 2010:

Lori, you can purchase hammocks instead of having to make one.

RonniBear, I would have a vet perform a fecal test to check for worms and parasites.

Yolanda, That is good that you got him diagnosed and he's getting treated. Upper respiratory can be contagious, so you may want to have him checked out just to be sure, but he may be fine.

Yolanda on April 27, 2010:

Thank you for your response. I did take Frankie into the Vet on Friday and they said he does have an upper respiratory infection. He is staying there for 10 days at least so they can give him the antibiotic (I'm afraid I wont be able to get him to take it) Now I'm worried about my other rat Stewie. I noticed this morning that he has a teeny bit of red crust in one of his eyes. He's acting perfectly normal, normal energy, normal food and water intake. I'm hoping I'm just being paranoid and that he's fine but I'm definitely going to be watching him more closely for awhile. I'm hoping both of my guys are ok so I can finally start to introduce them sometime in the future!

RonniBear on April 25, 2010:

I've had a male fancy rat for about six months now, and he's just recently lots a fair bit of weight. He used to be almost pudgy, and now he just seems frail and bony. He's eating and drinking just as much as he used to, and he's not displaying any symptoms other than weight loss. He's still just as lively and energetic as he used to be. Does anyone know what this might mean?

lori S. on April 23, 2010:

Hi again Whitney,

Squinch seems most comfortable inside of my robe. He gets really hyper after about ten minutes. I was wondering why he is so calm for ten minutes and then gets hyper and wants to be in his cage. I was thinking of making him a rat hammock. What kind of material should I use?

Whitney (author) from Georgia on April 20, 2010:

Yolanda, Frankie could have a respiratory concern, if he's making noises while breathing. It could be from stress, as well. Definitely keep them separated for now. I would try to find a vet to diagnose the rat just in case.

Charlalynn, You need to take the other rat out of the cage. If you have a sick rat, he needs to be housed by himself. The other rat, is making it worse. In some cases, they rats will help the sick one, but it doesn't sound like that is the case with your rats. The well rat is probably further stressing out the sick one. I strongly encourage you to separate the two rats and then find a vet who is familiar with rats to diagnose and treat yours. It seems pretty severe, so do so as soon as you can.

charlalynn on April 19, 2010:

Hi someone please help me. My rat is suddenly sick today! I woke up this morning and she was hiddin in her cage making a weird noise. I didnt think anything of it at first but when i came home from school i saw that she was really puffy and swollen looking. she hardly moves and if she does she wabbles. She also doesnt move one of her legs..i am worried about her. She ate some food and drank some water today. Her cage mate kept jumping on top of her while she was trying to sleep so i separated them for a while but now they are back together again. I do not know what to do i can not afford a vet right now. :(

Yolanda on April 19, 2010:


I have had a male rat (Stewie) for a little over a month now and I love that little guy like crazy! I just got a new male (Frankie) a couple days ago as a companion for Stewie. I have them in separate cages and after only a couple days I'm a little worried.... Frankie has hardly come out of his little house and once in awhile makes this odd sound that I've never heard from Stewie. It's almost like the sound of bed springs squeaking but really low, not high. He isn't doing it constantly but when he does he does it for a few minutes at a time, I'd say 4 or 5 times during the course of a day. He doesn't have any discharge from his eyes or his nose and I've seen him eating and drinking. He doesn't seem to have any problems breathing. Could this just be stress from leaving his friends in the pet store (he had 2 other rats with him)and being in the cage by himself? I'm really hoping he's not sick! Any ideas?


Whitney (author) from Georgia on April 18, 2010:

I'm not really sure, but I would definitely be interested to hear what the vet says. It could be of old age, but it really just depends on what is causing the illness. It's definitely somethign spinal.

aleskia on April 18, 2010:

between my sister and i, we have 10 rats. they all live in 1 of 3 wire cages, have bedding of newspaper and cloth, and have rattie pellets for food, sometimes get leftovers. for the most part, they are all doing quite well.

recently, we adopted a rat from a girl who discovered she was allergic to her pet. she made fast friends with 2 of her now cage mates. yesterday i took her out, though, and she is showing signs of something i cannot identify.

in the morning, she began to wobble some while walking on my arm. i didnt really take it as a bad hint. she rested on me for most of the daylight hours, shifting from place to place. usually, she is a very calm and loving rat. attentive and enthusiatic about exploring. yesterday, she was not. she stayed on me for a long while. when she wasnt sleeping on me, she was sleeping in a pile of clothes. she scarcly ate the treats i gave the day progressed, she lost the use of her hind legs, arching her back and stretching. she would drag her legs behind her. if she tried to walk, she would topple over from behind.

my sister was able to go to work and get some rodent amount pain killers. she has been acting much more herself. it being sunday, we will have to wait until monday to take her to the vet.

until then, however, i wanted to know if anyone had any ideas or direction of information. ive heard of spinal degeneration in elder rats. this one, we do not know her age, but it happened in he course of just a day.

any information would be welcomed.

Whitney (author) from Georgia on April 14, 2010:

Yes, I would be worried. I would have a vet check out the skin if the rat continues. You need to try to stop the rat whenever you seem him chewing the paw.

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