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Avery Miller

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So, a month and a half ago one of my does gave birth to an unexpected litter. Long story short, she looked like her brothers, and was placed in the wrong cage; the new rat, Murtagh, was the father. He passed away recently.
Unfortunately, one of the babies, Onyx, has begun to show the same signs that Murtagh showed us just two days before he passed. He had a severe head tilt and balance issues but he could walk and run and play just fine. He lost weight rapidly over the course of 48 hours however and passed away in his sleep.
Now, his daughter Onyx at one and a half months old is showing similar signs. She is a dumbo, and I remember that my mother used to tell me dumbos were more prone to ear infections? Perhaps just a tale, but I’m concerned. It does look like a severe ear infection to me. She rolls and cannot balance, and has a minimal head tilt; she’s also wobbly when walking. Her feet and tail are warm as usual, though, and eyes still nice and bright. There is no signs of bleeding in the eyes and no drainage from her ears.
This has happened seemingly overnight as last night she was totally fine and running amuck with her sisters on my laptop. She squeaks if touched and will not groom herself. She will eat little bits at a time if I hold her, and I’ve been giving her pedialyte mixed with plain chamomile tea. I even added some pedialyte to the water in their water bottle. She stays hunched up for the most part.
I don’t know of a vet in this area that will care for rats. I’ve always had to just be my own vet at times as I do not have a car and do not drive. If anyone has any advice please, please help. I love my baby girl Onyx and her sisters would be devastated without her big ears around.
Below is a picture of her now sitting on my lap, and pictures of her just a few days ago standing on my SO’s head.
 

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Avery Miller

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Add on: She has lost weight since the first picture and the ones following. She is a completely different rat from then and from last night.
 

Kye

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It could be an ear infection but it could also be a stroke.. Can you post a video of her walking around.? (post it on YouTube and link it here) it could really help us figure out what's best for her.. Odds are she will need a vet.. When you own rats I feel like you should ALWAYS have a vet because of how common flare ups are in some rats... But I'm no expert so I hope someone else can help you more...
 

lilspaz68

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A video would help but she most likely has inner ear infection. It can hit very hard in youngsters. Do you have any amoxicillin, Augmentin/clavamox, ciprofloxacin or azithromycin in your own med cupboard?
 
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Avery Miller

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I was able to take her out to a vet in the next state over and we discovered she is actually sort of like, paralyzed in her lower body. Her tail has no feeling and she cannot use her back legs well enough to stand on them (I believe the “ouch stretch”) . There is an issue with the vertebrae in her tail. We are unsure how she injured it. To prevent further injury, her tail is going to be amputated, but the vet said she should adapt to it quickly. There is no ear infection present.
She is eating and drinking on her own tonight without issue and her sisters are very comforting to her.

As for medicicine in my own cabinet, I have only the basics but in human doses. Ibuprofen, Tylenol, Naproxen. I have a triancinalome topical cream, but that’s probably not something I could use to help her.

Even the smallest bits of advice on how to help keep her comfy and cozy before and after the surgery will help me immensely. I’m so very worried that she’ll struggle after the amputation. I have limited her to just the floor level of their cage, removing the ramp that leads to the upper levels; her sisters just jump up to them anyway to reach the upper level food bowl. And I put another water bottle down to the floor level and a small ceramic food bowl for her.
 
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lilspaz68

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I think the amputation is premature in this case. Did they send you home with steroids or meloxicam to see if you can reduce the inflammation and cure the issue first?
 
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lilspaz68

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If not, can you delay the surgery and try the ibuprofen for a few days? When you hurt your back, you may lay flat on it, have back spasms etc, but with time and pain/inflammation relief it can ease. Rats break their tails all the time, you may just be seeing the initial injury to a spinal nerve but given time and help these things can resolve. Rats often are smarter than humans and hunker down when they are injured. Move as little as possible so they can heal.
 

Avery Miller

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I’ll have to look for the vet papers for her weight when I get home from work today. I also told the vet that the amputation didn’t seem right. My mom used to breed rats and we never had one’s tail amputated. They didn’t prescribe me anything for her, just said that a few hours before the surgery which is scheduled for Monday, to remove food from the cage. Even so, the ibuprofen I have is tablets in 800mg dosages. I’m not sure how I’d get the correct dosage for her.
 

lilspaz68

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I would only amputate a rat's tail if there was severe damage like degloving, etc. Maybe possibly IF she in the end didn't regain feeling in her tail and kept getting it caught and injured but at this point, its too early in the game to even consider this so early.

I would dose her with ibu starting tonight if possible, every 4-6 hours for a day or so over the weekend and see how things go. Ibuprofen is an NSAID like Metacam/meloxicam. It helps with pain as well as swelling/inflammation. The drawback to it is it should only be used short term and it must be given often to stay built up in the body to effect an improvement. You'll also want to make sure she's eaten sometime before her dose as it can be hard on rats and human stomachs.

If you can pick up infant liquid ibuprofen that would be best. Advil dye-free, grape flavored pediatric drops are one that rats often will take right from the syringe. If you cannot, you can mix up the 800 mg tablet with 10 ml of fluid (make sure at least half of the fluid is a sweet syrup to cover the bitter taste. Her dose will be dependent on her weight, but she looks tiny, maybe 100-150 grams?

Using 150 grams her dose would be 0.08 ml of the infant ibu, and 0.04 ml of the made up ibu solution just to give you an idea.

I would try to limit her activity (remove any ladders or tie them up) to encourage her to stay on the ground floor, lots of bedding for sore bits, put the water and food down with her. If others are bumping her and hurting her (she squeaks) then put her in a hospital cage on her own, for a day and see how she is after a few doses of ibuprofen.
 

lilspaz68

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One other thing is rats aren't supposed to fast before surgery. They are incapable of vomiting and their metabolisms are so high they can/should be offered good up to just before the surgery. Mine go with food in their carrier.
 
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Avery Miller

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I just came home from work and her papers from the vet says she weighs 136 grams. She doesn’t look like she’s doing any better, if anything, worse. I’ll try to get a video of her movements.
 

Avery Miller

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Here is a video of her, with comparison to her sisters Ruby and Badger at the end. Note: the funny sound is made by Badger. She has always made that sound, ever since she was a pinky.
 

Kye

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Oh boy- That looks EXACTLY like my Mazu when she had a really bad ear infection... We didn't catch it in time so she's permanently damaged but there may still be hope for your babe.!
a video of her for reference < 3
 

lilspaz68

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Mazu does have inner ear invention, the tilt, circling and dizziness are very apparent. Onyx is neurological unfortunately which is different her head looks domed, she might be having seizures and her tail is NOT the issue. I'm thinking of hydrocephalus which is cerebral fluid that builds up around the brain. I have seen hydro 3 times. Most babies don't make it. At this point she's not strong enough to survive surgery so I'm actually shocked they suggested it without trying any treatment.
 

Avery Miller

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So would this be an instance where euthanasia is going to be best for her? I would hate to put her through surgery if the surgery will ultimately kill her. I’m honestly shocked at the vet’s diagnosis and decision hearing this, as I would’ve expected a vet to know more about how to help her than someone on a forum.
How can I best care for her, if euthanasia is not necessary? I want to see her thriving. This occurred seemingly over night as her head was not domed before.
 
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lilspaz68

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You can try to.support her with soft foods possibly syringed into her,; remove discomfort with the ibuprofen, try antibiotics since it still could possibly be a bad inner ear infection (not sure I trust those vets ruling it out) but she looks very unhealthy at this point so it might take a bit of a miracle. :(
 

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