Rat spasms/freezes after getting scratches

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New Member
Jan 7, 2019
hi everyone!

I'm new to the forum, looking for answer to the following. My female rat of about 3 years old named Pumuckel has Hind Leg Degeneration.
One of the problems she faces is cleaning/scratching herself behind the ears. I therefore give her a lot of scratches behind the ears which she completely enjoys.

However, it seems there is a certain spot where she starts trying to scratch along (like dogs do aswell), by trying to reach to the spot with her hind leg. She is not able to reach it, only moving her back leg as if scratching herself.

The actual issue: she sometimes kind of spasms, locking all of her muscles with a tensed vibration. This lasts for a few seconds, after which she starts frantically cleaning herself. Does anyone know what this is/means? I am looking for information/advise from rat experts here, as I haven't found a vet with specific rat knowledge in the area just yet (recently moved to a new city).

Thank you in advanced, and a happy new year to all!



Staff member
Jul 21, 2007
Toronto, Canada, Earth
You hit the "itchy" spot, somewhere she cannot reach, that is likely very itchy but also may be a little sensitive as well. So try rubbing instead of scratching and see if she settles. My oldies who cannot reach their bits to groom themselves any more. I usually start with the back of their neck (NO rat can reach there) then move to the ears...they may convulse and grind their ears into your finger or may jerk away if its too sensitive. I then scratch along the spine down to the base of the tail (most rats don't like it much past the end of the rib cage, others love butt scratches and will try their damndest to curl around. Some rats you can rub and/or scratch ALL over their bodies and a couple of my oldies will turn onto their back so I can scratch their chest and belly etc. :)
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