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Mice/Abscess on rat neck


My daughters pet rat has what I believe is an absess on her neck and we can't afford to go to a vet. It has grown in only a day and does not seem to affect her. It wasn't there this morning but has grown quite large over the day. Can I treat this myself?

Dear John,

If it came on this quickly, there is good hope that it is an abscess.

If you brought the rat to the vet, besides diagnosing it as an abscess or something else, the vet could also both aspirate it and give her the best antibiotic for what it seems to be.

If you can't get to the vet easily-- and I understand-- there are still things you can do which are likely to be successful.

The first thing you do with an abscess is to treat it with heat 2-3 times a day for ten minutes. Rats' bodies are even a little warmer than ours, so if it isn't too hot for you, it isn't too hot for her.

People have tried different things.. sometimes people will use hot cabbage leaves in a sock around the body, but that probably won't work for you. I had a guy with an abscess on his lower abdomen and I took a strong Ziplock bag and filled it partway with hot water - seal out the air- and I held him on my lap with this heat pack in place as he ate soy  yogurt off of the top of a yogurt container. For someone else I suggested something firmer- a tomato, in half, heated in the microwave and in a Ziplock bag.  You will have to figure out what works.

The abscess should come close to the surface and open up, and it may look and smell horrific. The one I heat-treated was small and simply disappeared, but yours sounds much larger. Once it opens you have to keep it clean. Rinse it twice a day with saline and a Q tip. It should eventually heal into a normal scab and disappear. If it becomes red, puffy, begins to smell bad after it has closed up, or seems to hurt her, it is infected inside and has to be dealt with so she doesn't die of blood poisoning.

The second thing you should do is order some Baytril. You should have this on hand anyway, with rats, because it is what cures their typical sniffles and sneezes that accompany myco, which is what usually makes a rat sick. It is prescription only in most forms, but you can get it non prescription and formulated for birds at the Internet pigeon supply store Jedd's. You can't order it online because it is no longer legal for poultry, but you can get it by calling. The generic name for Baytril is enrofloxacin.

Call 800-659-5928

If the abscess has not healed within a week, start on the Baytril and keep on it for at least 2 weeks even though it looks fine. Keep the Baytril to use for sniffles. Never give any antibiotic for less than two weeks no matter what; three is always better.

Here is information and dosing on Baytril, from

Baytril (generic name: enrofloxacin)

Enrofloxacin is a broad spectrum antibiotic in the fluoroquinolone family.  It is bacteriocidal.  It is particularly good for Mycoplasma.  It can also be good for urinary infections, especially when used along with amoxicillin.  It can safely be used very long term in rats (ie. 2 years!) Other brand names  are usually similar to enrofloxacin, ie. Enrofloxin.

Enrofloxacin can be combined with doxycycline, penicillins, cephalosporins or gentamicin.  Do not use it with chloremphenicol.  It can interfere with the metabolism of bronchdilators, so doxycycline is better to use for rats on a bronchodilator.

The brand usually prescribed by vets is Baytril. The injectable form is usually 2.25% (22.5 mg/ml). Vets will sometimes want to give Baytril by injection, but it is highly caustic: DO NOT give Baytril by IM injection and only SQ when absolutely necessary as SQ injections can cause severe skin ulcers which take a very long time to heal.  I know of two rats who bled to death after scratching these ulcers!

Some vets grind Baytril tablets and mix them in a liquid flavoring.  These preparations should probably be refrigerated. The injectable liquid, which can be given orally, or 10% oral liquid should NOT be refrigerated because it will crystalize.

The recommended dose of enrofloxacin for rats is 10 mg/lb4 BID for at least 6 weeks or long term.  A generic 10% oral liquid (100 mg/ml) is available inexpensively from pigeon supply companies. I recommend Jeddís Pigeon Supply (see sources below.)  The dose for the 10% liquid is 0.1 ml/lb BID.

Clear liquid Baytril, either injectable or oral, tastes pretty bad. I have the best luck giving it mixed it in 2 teaspoons of an adult liquid supplement, such as Ensure, or soy infant formula, in a baby food jar lid on a flat magnet so the lid wonít tip over.  Donít mix a lot of it up ahead of time as that may affect its potency. I mix it just before giving it.


Best of luck and health to her.



Dosing for Baytril

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