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Getting desperate: are your rats often ill as well? Or maybe we are doing something wrong?

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Nyn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2020
Messages
57
Location
Netherlands
Hi all,

I am looking for some advice. My boyfriend and I are first time rat owners. We have two lovely little ladies (Tofu and Ciske) and we love them dearly. Our cage is large (large enough for 6 rats actually) and we have recycled cardboard as bedding together with fleece lining for the balconies and other hard areas. Furthermore there are a lot of hammocks, toys and everything else that is suited for rats in the cage. We feed them water and pellets + some occasional cat food and veggies.

Unfortunately when we got them (in August), a week in, both got a serious inner ear infection. Since that time they have been ill quite often. Tofu had another ear infection and they both got spayed when they were 5 months old. Now Ciske is ill again (just when Tofu has recovered) and we are not sure what she has (we are having her checked by the vet this afternoon). I am thinking it is a UTI as she was checked for ears and lungs last Friday and those were fine.

In the meantime we are spending a lot of time (and less important but still considerable amounts of money) on going to the vet almost twice every month. The money is definitely not an issue (I am willing to pay any amount for them to be happy) but I'm just so sad that they are ill all the time. There seems no rest for them to just have a happy healthy life which is what I wish for them so badly. We take them out of the cage for free roaming 2-3 hours a day and train with them happily. And it is amazing when they are happy and healthy but so far we've only had that for maybe 1 week at a time.

Sorry for the long story my question is basically, is this normal for rats? I am getting afraid to leave them when we go on holiday even just for a weekend, as (even though I trust my friend to pet sit them completely) a pet sitter won't know their slight behaviour differences the way we do. Do you guys have found your rats to be ill so much? We got them from a rattery and not a pet store on purpose. And we are doing all in our power to help them. I've added a photo of my babies.

Thank you so much for any advice or kind words (or tips or unkind words if we are doing things wrong, anything would help)

Nynke
 

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Pepper_rat

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 9, 2020
Messages
55
Location
New York
I have only owned rats for a little over a year now but I’ve lost 3 at young ages from illness. Two from breeders (different ones) and one from a pet store. I think it’s really just random. Some rats have better immune systems and are able to fight off infections and some can’t. We have now bought a nebulizer and several asthma medications and bronchialdialator meds to help when needed as URI’s and other infections have been our leading issue. I now own 9 and I thank my lucky stars everyday that they are all healthy but my BF and I do health checks everyday and we are prepared for anything. Even with all these precautions, sometimes things happen. It does sound like your girls are getting sick more often which is concerning. It’s nice to know that you’re prepared financially for this because it’s so sad to see owners that can’t get vet help for their rats. I would recommend talking to your vet about this and asking about maybe immune system issues or something else causing these reoccurring health issues. You could also look into getting another opinion at another exotics vet. I hope your girls are healthy soon and you can have many more months with them!
 

Nyn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2020
Messages
57
Location
Netherlands
Thank you for your kind reply and your story with your babies. It is comforting to know that this is not really anything to do with our care for them. A nebulizer is a good idea :) we bought one too for the winter period and I think it is helping them a lot with any breathing issues. We now have (on the advice of our vet) also some cough sirop (bisolvon) in their water to loosen their mucous as well. This helps tremendously with the sneezing issue that we had and it is not a dangerous medicine for them at all.

Unfortunate we discovered that Tofu might have kidney failure (she's only 8 months old) so we are trying to deal with that as well. She's been put on kidney friendly (cat) food, which, unfortunately, her sister loves too much 🤣 we've figured out a way to have Tofu only eat it though as Ciske cannot climb that well due to the after effects of the inner ear infection. We've hung the food high so Tofu can get it and Ciske cannot 😇

When we went to the vet yesterday to get Tofus blood tested for her kidneys, I spoke to the vet some more. The blood test couldn't be performed due to quick blood clotting but we have put her on the diet just to be sure. The vet told us that most likely as they were ill from a young age, they now are more vulnerable to diseases. I also spoke to the breeder who was super nice about it and tried to offer advice as well. So I'm pretty sure it is not her doing either, it is just bad luck.

Again thank you for reading my story and for sharing yours. It helps with the worries :)
 

Pepper_rat

Well-Known Member
Joined
May 9, 2020
Messages
55
Location
New York
Poor tofu! I’m sorry you have to deal with so many illnesses but it makes sense that they would be more susceptible now. I hope this doesn’t turn you off from owning more rats int he future because they truly are such great pets! I hope Tofu and Ciske can have heathy and long lives soon 🙂
 

MN Rat Pack

Member
Joined
Mar 22, 2020
Messages
17
Location
Mesa, AZ
I’m so happy to hear that you’re able to provide them all the care that they need! I’ve had 8 rats over the years - 5 boys and 3 girls. I currently have two girls. It’s challenging to know whether your rat had a good upbringing in terms of husbandry (pine bedding or ammonia) or genetics no matter where you get them from. For the first time got two sisters from a breeder. All of the others have been hand-me-downs or pet store rats. I had assumed they would have the best care of any rats... but learned after they started getting sick that they were raised on pine bedding. These little ladies were my most unhealthy rats and one died the worst death I’ve seen and one is chronically sick with lung and uterine issues. i’ve spent more on rat bills in one year than I’ve spent in nine years on two cats! I can totally commiserate with just wanting them to be healthy fun-loving rats ❤

My previous rats (boys) really didn’t have any health issues except an occasional abscess or tumor that could be removed pretty inexpensively. You got a good community here of experienced rat people for questions and virtual hugs!
 

Nyn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2020
Messages
57
Location
Netherlands
Thank you so much for the lovely reply. I talked to the breeder again and she is so lovely, honestly. I cannot imagine her being the issue. I know she keeps them on cardboard as well and she was super sorry for us and wants to stay in touch to know what's going on. We are taking them to the vets tomorrow for another check up🥰
 

Nyn

Well-Known Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2020
Messages
57
Location
Netherlands
Also, I am so sorry for you that you found out in hindsight how yours girls were treated. That must have been a horrid and annoying discovery to make. Thank you for sharing your story with us. It really means a lot to feel we are not alone in this. We are trying our best and we want them to live life to the fullest
 
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