Regret not spaying

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Nathan

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Vlaardingen, the Netherlands
My girlfriend 'adopted' two female rats in July and August of 2019. At first she had only 'adopted' one, but I told her that she should 'adopt' another one.

I did read a bit about spaying and the potential benefits, but I did not know much about rats at that time and underestimated the risk of mammary tumours and pituitary tumours. So I did not make the recommendation to my girlfriend that she should have her rats spayed.

They both got mammary tumours that have been removed surgically and in August of 2019 Snoesje has unfortunately been put to sleep. The first two days that she was ill I suspected that she (again) had a middle ear infection, but the vet said that she had a pituitary tumour.

Loesje now has two mammary tumours (she has had three removed in two surgeries) and I suspect that the latest one will need to be removed sooner rather than later. But she also has a UTI at the moment and it is very likely that she has a lung abscess.

Are there reasons other than the risk of the surgery not to spay female rats?
It seems that spaying is less popular in the UK than it is in the USA/Canada.

With my current knowledge I think that I would have recommended to have them spayed at 4-6 months of age. But Snoesje did have a respiratory infection around that time.
 

Ela

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Nov 5, 2020
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Location
Philadelphia PA
From what I've been told (by multiple exotic vets) you spaying before 6mo reduces the chances by 80%-90%. The problem is after that that all bets are off as to how effective it is at preventing the tumors, as they're essentially caused by excess hormones. After 6mo they've had time to run rampant in their systems. Some vets are for it up to 1.5yrs, but many will agrue it isn't worth the risk. Making it even more complicated, many rat parents attest to mixed results... so it's super hard to make a call. Believe me, I know. I reached out here to try and get a vote a week or so ago.

THAT SAID: some vets now recommed trying Surprelorin implants to reduce hormones and prevent tumors (or at least delay/reduce their occurrence). They cost about half as much as spaying, but the issue is that they only last 6-12mo. So depending on the age of your rats they may need a couple in their lifetimes. That said there are no reported side effects (minor swelling maybe but no real recovery) and you don't have to risk putting rats under gen anesthesia... maybe just 5 mins of gas. I've had several vets tell me that the implants are waste of time... but I finally found one who is willing and thinks it's a very promising alternative. He's also one of the most awarded exotic vets in our area w 25+yrs experience. I'm going to try them for one of my 1yr old girls, after a TON of research and the feeling it is her best option. She may have a respiratory issue too and I just don't want to risk elective surgery.

Pituitary tumors cause rats to get multiple tumors... so if you see a crazy influx of those tumors popping up, it's very likely that could be the underlying issue. Thankfully the drug Cabergoline can save lives. Not always, but it was able to save our precious girl. We lost her beloved sister to a PT (we couldn't get the drug fast enough once symptoms appeared)... so as soon as I spotted the same symptoms I rushed to the vet and got her on it. It's very expensive and doesn't have a long shelf life... but our girl started taking it 2mo ago and it saved her life. Her body had gone limp and she could barely walk or lift food.

Lupron is another drug that some vets are using to combat existing/recurring mammary tumors.... helping their size to decrease. We were going to start our girl on it, but then she started showing PT symptoms. So she was put on the Cabergoline which not only helped her symptoms but caused all of her existing tumors to completely shrink, since the PT/prolactin was signally their growth. She had 5 popping up at the same time.

So answering your actual question (lol)... In every bit of info I've come across advocates spaying before 6mo... Absolutely. But if risk is a concern (depending on the vets you have available in yr area), or if you have an older girl and want to attempt another route, hopefully the above info helps! Rats can be expensive if we want them to live long lives, but SO WORTH IT.
 

Nathan

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Location
Vlaardingen, the Netherlands
In humans hysterectomies have a detrimental effect on cardiovascular and skeletal systems.

And oophorectomy before the age of 45 is associated with a fivefold mortality from neurologic and mental disorders.

Does the limited lifespan of rats prevent these effects from being an issue?

 

Ela

Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2020
Messages
22
Location
Philadelphia PA
In humans hysterectomies have a detrimental effect on cardiovascular and skeletal systems.

And oophorectomy before the age of 45 is associated with a fivefold mortality from neurologic and mental disorders.

Does the limited lifespan of rats prevent these effects from being an issue?

I believe there's no reason to assume it does. Their lives are "sped up" compared to ours, but I don't think by any reason that should be ruled out. Also rat research often dictates the conclusion of human "research"... so........

Hence suggesting the implants which are less traumatic overall to the system.
 

Ela

Member
Joined
Nov 5, 2020
Messages
22
Location
Philadelphia PA
Also at the end of the day all rats like humans are individuals... I think the problem of western medicine is a "one size fits all" approach. Things just aren't that simple!
 

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