Rats are prone to a whole bunch of health problems and its important that you’re able to recognize them.
It is very common for rats to develop tumors, especially older rats. Females tend to develop tumors more often than males. Seek veterinary help whenever a lump is noticed growing on your rat. Often tumors can be surgically removed. The tissue can be biopsied to tell whether its benign or malignant.
Respiratory issues are a very common health issue that rats have. Symptoms of a respiratory distress are wheezing, sneezing or clicking when breathing, lethargy, loss of weight. If you see these symptoms take your rat to a vet immediately. Pneumonia can result from an unchecked respiratory infection. Antibiotics such as Baytril will usually take care of the problem. Its worth noting that rats that get a respiratory infection once are usually more prone to get one again in the future.
Tilting of the head and difficulty walking is most often caused by an inner ear infection. You’ll need to take your rat to a vet immediately for treatment. An antibiotic such as Baytril should be able to get rid of the infection and depending on the severity you may also be required to administer ear drops.
Rat teeth, unlike human teeth, never stop growing. Their teeth will continue getting longer throughout their entire life. This is why it is important to provide your rats with wood blocks to chew on. Most of the time rats will wear their teeth down on their own, but sometimes they’re need assistance. If you take your rats to a vet and they will trim their teeth for you or show you how to do it yourself.
If you notice your rat losing weight or not eating the first thing you should check is their teeth. I’ve seen cases where a rat’s bottom teeth had grown into their upper jaw causing an abscess to develop. If you see swelling on the side of your rats head contact a vet immediately.
That exact thing happened to my rat Porthos. He was taken to the vet with massive swelling on the side of his face. The vet sucked a syringe full of puss from the swollen area.
He was put on anti-biotics and a couple days later his abscess broken open as can be seen in the picture to the right. We thoroughly cleaned it every day and about a week later it was fully healed and the swelling was completely gone.
Do not let your rats climb very high. Rats will stumble and fall from time to time. A fall from a high place can result in broken limbs or worse. Always supervise your rats when they are out of their cage to make sure they’re not too adventurous.
Knowing all of these very common health issues will ensure that you get your pet they help that it needs as soon as possible.