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Patches & Lopside

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Frosty

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My mom found this pair online. They had been abandoned for some stretch of time, in their cage. The cat shelter that was holding them was planning on putting them down, so my mom passed it along to me, and I got working.

Big cage is set up, dust free bedding, two water bottles, the good brand of food, all that jazz. I binged rat care videos and articles for a few days straight.
Then today, I drove 380 miles and back to pick them up. When I saw them, something inside me turned over. Now, in between bouts of crying, I'm trying to do the best I can for them. August 10th was the earliest vet appointment I could get, so they just have to hold out until then.

- PATCHES -
So named for his spotty, almost nonexistent coat. Could either be ringworm or mange, I guess? I'm going to try petting him down with an aloe rub (non oil-based), to try to help with the itching... until the vet can prescribe exactly what's needed.

Rail thin, emaciated. I've gotten him to eat a few bites of apple, and he's bruxing/boggling when I pet him, so that's a good sign. He's sneezing a lot though. He was being kept on wood shavings for however long before I got him. Respiratory problems are likely. He has trouble walking, but he has still done a bit of shaky climbing around the cage.
He's also showing some aggression toward his cage mate, which I am monitoring.

- LOPSIDE -
So named because he cannot seem to walk without dragging his whole left side across the ground. Some kind of pervasive neurological issue, no doubt exacerbated by the undernourishment.
He isn't as obviously underfed as Patches, but I can't interest him in any food, nor water. He seems to stiffen up and tremble, perhaps like a seizure. He doesn't respond much to being touched. He stops crawling around when I pet him, but definitely resists being held.
His primary interest has been in resting. It reminds me of some of mom's pets in the past, right before they died. It wouldn't be a shock to me if Lopside is dead by morning.

Barring that, I'm planning on making a chia seed pudding w/ a dilution of apple juice. Maybe the protein and omega-3 fatty acids can alleviate some of his neurological damage. I can only hope.
I'll also go find a fluid dropper tomorrow and try to get him to drink a little water.

I'm not totally sure, but I think Patches was beating up on Lopside in the ground floor hideout. I heard some ugly noises. I know you're generally supposed to let them sort it out, but it didn't seem appropriate this time.
I have Lopside tucked in under some fleece in the hammock, which is obviously not a sustainable solution for a rat who can barely walk, much less navigate the ramps and platforms to return to the food & water. I'll move him to a safer arrangement before I go to bed tonight.

-

I don't really know what kind of advice I'm looking for. I just need to put this out there. I'll keep this thread updated as I learn more and the situation progresses.
 

Frosty

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Well, they're eating plenty. They're not drinking as much water as I'd like, but they go after cucumber, watermelon, and grapes well enough, so maybe it's alright for the time being. They take some water from a dropper, but I can't force the issue.

What concerns me most right now is that Patches is outright hostile toward Lopside, going so far as to draw blood. I've tried sporadic socializations, but it doesn't seem to be working. I have them in separate homes for now. Is Patches viewing Lopside as a competitor for food? Something is definitely skewing his temperament. Patches is nothing but docile with me, and seeks my attention whenever I'm around. I know you're normally supposed to let rats sort out these power struggles themselves, but it goes too far, I think... and Lopside just isn't coordinated enough to defend himself. I worry for their moods, spending time in solitary like this, but I don't know what else to do right now. Maybe I'm being hasty; they've only been in my care for a few days.
 

lilspaz68

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If there's attacks drawing blood then it's definitely time to separate. Can you get a video of each rat. They might be incredibly old and a lot of those symptoms would be more aging like dragging of the hind legs (usually sideways) called HED or hind end degeneration. Thinning patchy fur could be an old rex, starvation/malnutrition, or even parasites. Can you hold both boys sides to your ear and listen to their breathing?
 

Frosty

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I listened closely to Patches' breathing, and despite his frequent sneezing, I didn't hear anything immediately alarming, like rasping or hitching.


Lopside strongly dislikes being held, but I don't have reason to suspect that he's suffering from any respiratory illness.
(The cardboard box is temporary. I wasn't expecting to have them separated.)
 

lilspaz68

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OK they could be elderly or could have been starved, my guess is both. Patches looks like a rex that has lost his fur, they can start getting super patchy after a year or 2. I'll dig up pics of oldie rexes when I have a sec. His shape is awful, and I bet his tail is not filled out but squarish in shape or you can feel the bones through the skin? That's starvation or not getting enough nourishment. What staple diet are they on? A good low protein block with a lot of supplements would be best. Soft foods like baby cereal, even Ensure or some other meal replacement would help get nutrients and calories into them.

As for Lopside...poor sweet old man. He's having some seizures and something else neurological. Sometimes a cagemate will attack a friend who is "off". I had 2 brothers and in the end had to separate them because of the seizures. My guess is possibly a severe inner ear infection or a brain tumour. Its hard to tell off a little video clip and I wasn't abel to see the dragging of the hind legs, so if you could try to get that on video for me it might help.

Here's a thread about young Shade and Syra and Shade's journey from starved, neglected and sick...

 

Frosty

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What staple diet are they on? A good low protein block with a lot of supplements would be best. Soft foods like baby cereal, even Ensure or some other meal replacement would help get nutrients and calories into them.
Right now I'm giving them the Oxbow Adult Rat kibble, which they both really enjoy. The bag claims "Crude Protein: 15%" Is that too high?
Additionally, I'm working in some fresh things, including blueberries, grapes, watermelon, cucumber, carrot, kale, almonds, walnuts... I'll look into baby cereal, that's a good plan. Is there a brand / mix you especially recommend?

Its hard to tell off a little video clip and I wasn't abel to see the dragging of the hind legs, so if you could try to get that on video for me it might help.
Upon further observation, I think it may be more than he stumbles onto his left side, and my initial thinking was based on him moving around quite quickly, and his left limbs not being able to keep up. They technically work, but his sense of balance seems to be off.
He really doesn't like to spend any time of out his hiding place, but after I get him a new cage tomorrow, I'll see if I can get some footage of him moving around.
 

lilspaz68

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I would support them with good nutrition, and make sure they are hydrated and get them to the vet ASAP. I would make sure they were both treated with Revolution if they have parasites like mites or lice

Article I created with pics on lice and mites

I would definitely get Patches on antibiotics as his milder respiratory infection could get very severe because of a depressed immune system.
Not sure about Lopside, as it definitely looks neurological. :(

Kisses to the poor beautiful boys!
 

lilspaz68

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Lopside may have a bad inner ear infection with head tilt causing the tilting and circling/lurching in one direction. Is he able to hold the oxbow in his front paws and grasp evenly

Another article showing my rat failing the "cheerio" test.

 

Frosty

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Here's a better video of Lopside's movement. He is able to grasp the pellets well enough to position them into his mouth, though he does struggle a bit.

Vet appointment is locked in for the 10th, earliest I could get. I'll definitely make sure they have a list of everything I've observed, just in case it helps.
 

Frosty

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Finally got in to the vet this morning. They're gaining weight, and they're no longer dehydrated. They both have upper respiratory infections, which I got medicine for. We're also trying a broad spectrum antibiotic for Lopside, just in case it's an inner/middle ear infection that's causing him trouble. My challenge now will be administering the medicine; they really dislike being held.
 

Frosty

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They're taking their meds well enough, but with their improving health, I think I'm noticing them becoming bored. It's no wonder, given that I have them separated. I'd really like to have them both in the big cage, so I wouldn't be their only source of interaction. I've gotten some tips on the measured process of introducing rats to each other, but I'm not sure if I should wait until they've finished their antibiotics. Their senses of smell don't seem to be very good, so I'm skeptical that the scent-crossing steps of socializing rats would be very effective, at least until their respiratory infections are cleared up.

Lopside definitely wants company, it's just a matter of getting Patches to calm down around him. Given what you said about Lopside being "off", is this just a lost cause?

EDIT: I took a chance, and it looks like it's going to pay off. I was going to keep it brief, but it's completely different from a week ago. I wonder if Patches was just out of his mind with food aggression at first.

4728567966475446498.jpg
 
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Big Schpog

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I'm so happy you have taken these boys out of the conditions they were in. I get really miserable when I see people abuse rats. I was almost in tears watching your videos. But now, you are here to help them and it warms my heart. You are doing an excellent job with them. You got them to a vet and now they are getting healthy. I wouldn't rush introductions. Are the cages close to each other so they can smell and hear each other? If it were me, I would wait until they're feeling much better before introducing them. I know it's hard having two separate rats but they need to get healthy. If they can smell and hear each other I think that's good. Keep loving on them and when they're healthier, you can do introductions. Good luck and best wishes.
 

Big Schpog

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I just saw that you did introduce them and it's going just fine. Congrats. You're a wonderful person for helping them. Enjoy the love that only rats can give to their human. Melts my heart to see them together.
 

Frosty

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Thank you for the kind words; it means a lot.

I'm still taking it somewhat slow; conflict seems to happen mostly at night, so I'm having them separate while I sleep. In the hours they're active before my own bedtime, things went really well last night. I think Patches is feeling more defensive than aggressive. Lopside will stumble into him, or have a convulsion nearby, and that's when Patches goes on the offensive. I'm hoping that, with time, he'll learn Lopside is not a threat.

They're not so insistent on my attention when they're around each other, which really makes me happy.
 
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