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Sick Rats - Need Help

PasserbyePasserbye I am much older than you.in Beach CityRegistered User regular
edited April 2009 in Help / Advice Forum
HALP! Both of my rats are sick! From their symptoms, it looks like they both have upper respiratory infections. Alton seems relatively ok - some sniffling and some weightloss, but he still seems alright. Tony on the other hand is not so good. He's got all the symptoms (listless, hunched, wheezing, sneezing, weightloss, lethargic, all of it). We're going to be cleaning the cage, and I've got Tony in isolation with extra food, apples, tomatoes, and a little milk. We'll be picking up some Pedialite for him while we're out. Is there anything else we can do? Our heater hasn't been working properly lately so it's been cold in here (55ish). The manager is away on holiday so we can't ask him to fix it 'til the 29th. Is there anyway to get them warm? Will that help? We have towels in their cages right now.

I don't think I can emphasize enough that Tony's especially in a bad way. He's normally terribly timid and hates being held - he sat in my lap and slept for about 15 minutes without struggling at all (when I opened the isolation cage he walked right into my hand!) and I had trouble getting him back into the cage.

Please, please, please, please any help you can recommend would be wonderful.

Thank you in advance.

Passerbye on


  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Take them to a vet. Nearly all vets treat rodents, and can give them a shot of antibiotics and provide you with an oral food supplement if they aren't eating. It is not expensive, usually 40$ for the visit + cost of medication.

  • PasserbyePasserbye I am much older than you. in Beach CityRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    My first choice would be to take them to the vet, but we just don't have the money for it, even at only $40. It's good that we're just keeping everyone fed and housed, let alone going to a vet.

    Any non-vet suggestions?

  • matt has a problemmatt has a problem I've got waffles and I've got beerRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Put a brick, rock, or something metal in the oven and let it heat up, then wrap it well in a towel.

  • dispatch.odispatch.o Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Passerbye wrote: »
    My first choice would be to take them to the vet, but we just don't have the money for it, even at only $40. It's good that we're just keeping everyone fed and housed, let alone going to a vet.

    Any non-vet suggestions?

    If they need antibiotics and do not get them, there is a good chance they will die. Most vets have interest free installment options for payment. I really cannot advocate you going to the vet enough. If you cannot afford vet visits, you probably should rethink having pets in the future.

    edit: Rodents have extremely sensitive respiratory systems, Chinchillas, Rabbits, Guinea Pigs, and a minor infection is life threatening nearly always, even with treatment the mortality rate is very high.

    edit2: What kind of bedding do you use? If it's Cedar or Pine that may be contributing. Kiln dried pine is okay.

  • VisionOfClarityVisionOfClarity Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    If you can't afford to take your pet to the doctor you can't afford the pet. Not taking them to the vet when they're sick is cruel and completely irresponsible no matter what your reason is. If they need antibiotics there is nothing you can do at home for them.
    The first signs usually go unnoticed by the less experienced rat owners. M.pulmonis affects three major areas of the body, the upper respiratory system, the bronchopulmonary system, and the genitals. Sneezing. Any number of reasons may cause rat sneezing, such as allergy to poor quality bedding. If you are hearing sneezing often and if it responds to antibiotic treatment, it more than likely is the M. pulmonis causing it. Other symptoms are sniffling, rough hair coat, and head tilt (PEW do this anyway), lethargy, rough hair coat, hunched posture, chattering (as in shivering from the chills), weight loss, laboured and raspy breathing, and breathing that sounds congested. Antibiotic treatment at this point is helpful but they begin a downward spiral that leads to eventual death. It is important to differentiate whether or not a rat has an upper or lower respiratory tract infection. Upper respiratory tract disease includes rhinitis (cold symptoms), sinusitis, labyrinthitis (middle ear disease). Lower respiratory disease includes conditions ranging from mild bronchitis to pneumonia and sometimes emphysema. A rat with noisy or snuffling breathing is unlikely to have lower respiratory tract disease if it is otherwise healthy, eating and in good condition. It is far more likely to have sinusitis. Although the infection does not usually kill rats by itself they are rarely successful in getting rid of it from their system.

    What Should i do if i suspect my rat has Myco?
    The severity of a mycoplasma infection can be increased by cigarette smoke, ammonia from a dirty cage, vitamin A or E deficiency, and a concurrent respiratory infection of another type, as well as genetic susceptibility. So go and see your vet Only some antibiotics are effective against mycoplasma, and some are effective against both mycoplasma and secondary infections. When a rat is showing acute disease, you should choose one of the later antibiotics, which include Baytril, chloremphenical, and gentamicin together with amoxicillin.

  • matthias00matthias00 Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    To warm them up, yeah put a brick or rock in the oven for a while and then wrap it in a towel. I'd advise against metal because that may get too hot, and will lose its heat much quicker. Ideally, you have a large, flat-topped rock that you can fit in your oven. The towel is for comfort. put the rock in their cage and make sure food + water is close to it.

    To make them better, vet. I understand if you are going through tough times financially, and the vet probably will too. They work all sorts of financial backgrounds, and if treatment is required they should be willing to figure out a plan for you. The people there aren't going to let an animal die if they know they can make it better. Your rats need you to do this for them.

  • Richard_DastardlyRichard_Dastardly Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    When my cat got sick, the vet bills came out to about $1300 (she died anyway). We used Carecredit and it helped out a lot. They approved us while the vet was running tests on Mecha.

    ಠ_ರೃ wrote: »
    cats are douches
  • TrillianTrillian Registered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Antibiotics for a rat are mindbogglingly cheap.
    Even just call a vet clinic and ask.

    They cast a shadow like a sundial in the morning light. It was half past 10.
  • PasserbyePasserbye I am much older than you. in Beach CityRegistered User regular
    edited April 2009
    Please keep in mind when I got my rats I could afford to take them to the vet and I believed I would be able to for their entire lives. We're just having financial troubles right now. It already kills me to see them suffer, so I don't need you guys pulling judgments on me.

    Matthias - You're right about vets being sympathetic, I just didn't know they would allow interest-free installment plans (I always just paid vet bills in full before). Basically I was terrified I'd show up and they'd turn me down when I wouldn't be able to pay the bill. I'll look into what's affordable in my area since I'm limited to walking.

    I'll also try the warmed rock idea, I've got plenty of granite pieces lying around.

    Thank you.

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