Wet Whiskers and Long Tails: Understanding Rat Health and Illnesses

Owning a pet rat can be a lot of fun and very rewarding, as they are intelligent and sociable creatures who often enjoy human company, but it also helps enhance the experience if you get to understand more about their health issues. Since a few of my friends do own pet rats, I thought I would share some important health issues that you should be aware of if you are planning on having a pet rat become part of your family!

pet rat

Here is a look at things like when you might need to use Gavage needles, to understanding what symptoms of ill-health they might display and what sort of illnesses they are often susceptible to.

A range of digestive disorders

Rats can become ill and suffer from a digestive disorder as a result of a bacterial infection or if they have become affected by intestinal parasites.

The most common intestinal parasite that they are likely to get is pinworms. These pinworms are transmitted through infected feces, but one of the problems you face with this digestive particular disorder is that they display no outward sign, but you may notice that they are suffering from diarrhea due to intestinal inflammation.

The way to diagnose the disease is by identifying the worms or their eggs that are in the infected feces. Pinworm infections can be treated successfully by your vet, so book an appointment if you suspect that your rat might have a digestive disorder.

Problems with their skin

Rats are often susceptible to some form of skin disorder and they can often be caused as a result of an injury, bacterial infection or parasites.

Male rates don’t often like to share their space with other males and this means that regular fights are likely to break out. This will regularly lead to them sustaining injuries in their back, face and genital areas. This leaves them vulnerable to infection and an incident of tail biting can even lead to gangrene.

Keep a check on the appearance of your rat’s skin and watch for any evidence of weight loss, which can be fatal. You should be able to treat many of their problems with a disinfectant solution and an antibiotic ointment, which your vet should be able to supply if required.

Other skin problems to look out for include fleas, lice and mites, which should be evident of you inspect your pet regularly while giving them a stroke or a cuddle.

Is your rat sneezing or sniffling?

Rats can suffer from respiratory problems and in fact, with the exception of rats raised in laboratory conditions, all other rats including your pet, will be carrying a condition known as Mycoplasma Pulmonis (Myco).

This is not normally an issue for many rats and they can go through their whole life without displaying any serious symptoms, but what you do need to know is that an issue like stress or a weak immune system, can trigger a reaction that causes this disease to flare up.

Take a look at your rat and if they are not their usual self, check to see if their coat has become a bit rough, or whether they are sneezing or sniffling. Myco might be the problem if they have labored breathing or they have what looks like blood around the eyes and nose, but is actually porphyrin staining.

You need to get them to a vet for an examination as quickly as possible if they are displaying any of these symptoms, as Myco is a respiratory disease that can prove fatal.

Understanding what can make your pet rat ill and what outwards signs of illness that they might display, will help you to keep them happy and healthy for as long as possible.

Nicole Forney has always loved animals, and it was without surprise when she became a veterinary assistant after leaving school. Nicole has gained a wide understanding of the needs of a varied list of pets, and enjoys writing articles for pet blogs in her spare time.

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