Elderly ratlady holding her tail to one side when she walks-- why?

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Mission Control -- All is ratness
Apr 12, 2013
Ontario, Canada
Mara is just over two and a half years old now. She's doing not too badly for her age-- arthritic, a bit deaf, and starting to lose her eyesight (such as it is-- she's a Himalayan, so she's got red eyes), but otherwise okay.

Recently, she's started carrying her tail to one side when she walks. It's not paralyzed, because I've seen her move it normally when she's moving short distances. It's not something I've seen in any of our other rats over the past... what, eighteen years or so. Could this be a balance issue? Her hips are creaky. Could it be foreshadowing paralysis? Could it be something else entirely? It's not wheel-tail-- her wheel is big enough, and she's not running as much as she used to because she's an arthritic little old lady.

Does anyone have experience with this?

I'd rather not bug the vet in the middle of a lockdown unless absolutely necessary. The last assessment a month or so ago was that she's old; for more than that, extensive (and stressful) testing would need to be done. Given that our wee lady likely has a little PTSD from her early days (visible in her behavioural issues), leaving her at an out-of-town vet overnight would stress her out way too much. Right now, we're keeping her as comfortable as we can for as long as she'd like.

(She's on Tramadol for the pain, by the way.)


Staff member
Jul 21, 2007
Toronto, Canada, Earth
Does she need the Tramadol? Getting old is a natural process. I only give pain meds if there is true relief needed. If you give them and notice the rats body language has changed, they are brighter, more active etc. If they are much the same they probably dont need pain meds. As for the tail it could be anything, but definitely feel around the base for a mass that might be affecting the way she holds it.

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