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Abscessed tumor
Abscessed tumor  
QUESTION: My name is Tiffany and I have a 2 ˝ year-old girl named Mally. She was recently diagnosed with an abscessed tumor. According to her vet (who treats exotics) her lungs sounded ‘Fibrous’ and her breathing is too labored- so he doesn’t want to do surgery because he doesn’t think she would survive the anesthesia.

(Just so you know)
I went to this same vet –same place but different person- when she got her first tumor, and the woman remarked about her lungs as well. She mentioned surgery that was like $800, said “we’re here if you need us” and left the room.
About a month later, the tumor was twice the size and vascular. I knew it was either surgery or euthanasia. My mom called our dogs vet and asked if they saw rats. They said yes and I brought her in. I don’t remember her lungs ever being checked, but long story short- her tumor (actually ended up being two separate tumors) was successfully removed.

(Back to the present)
She was given a shot of ‘Convenia’ (oral meds like baytril and metacam give her spasms) and after about a week he said the inflammation on her abscess was down and it wasn’t tender when he touched it. He also said her lungs seemed a little better- but barely.

In case she has ‘Myco’, she’s been given Doxycycline to help with that(plus the air filter and humidier I bought) and hopefully she will be breathing better and be a candidate for surgery

I just don’t know what to think or do. Her breathing is always more labored at the vet. But it was never to the point where I ever actually noticed her having any problems (at home). I’ve read that the two signs in the beginning stages of ‘Myco’ are sneezing- which is a rare occurrence for her and Porphyrin discharge- which is even rarer for her.

I’m not a vet (and I don’t own a stethoscope), so I don’t know what her lungs sound like. I’ve seen you tube videos of rats with ‘Myco’ and she has never made those sounds. She doesn’t wheeze, and she doesn’t ‘rattle’.

I’m tempted to get an opinion from the vet who did her first surgery. But I’m fairly certain she is just a general DVM. But she also removed a huge vascular mass from my Mally and kept her alive while doing it.

(Sorry this is long)
My course of action is going to be based on the severity of her situation. I can’t keep waiting too long. After my first visit with the Exotics vet, I called later and asked if she would even survive till her next visit (because I was afraid her abscess would burst and cause sepsis) and he said ‘I don’t know’. But it’s been a couple weeks and her abscess is… well- not better, but she’s alive and she eats, drinks and goes about her business as usual.

My question is: How serious is an abscessed tumor? I know you’re not a vet, but have read many cases regarding rat health. I’ve read two cases where people had rats in the same situation and that they had gotten the abscess out themselves. Which I know they usually do anyway, but these are abscessed TUMORS.

I hate taking her to the vet. It’s a 30 minute drive for her (+30 to get back)and last time she seemed very distressed. She had me really worried.

2nd question: Do you think some vets are just too cautious when the course of action should be more ‘ACTION’ and not just ‘Let’s wait and see’. Her first vet already agreed to surgery as long as we were “on the same page” and “knew the risks”.

So if this is like CRAZY serious, and she needs surgery ASAP then I know who to take her to. But if this is something that can wait a month or two (with antibiotics) I guess I will stay with the Exotics Vet.

Ps. I know people get mad about vets that see rats when they have ‘no business seeing them’, But her first vet is extremely loving, and many people do not have exotic vets in their area or cannot afford them, and if it were not for some general DVM’s, many rats would just be turned away without any treatment. So pleeeease don’t be mad that I took her to a vet that may not be certified to see exotics.

Pss. By the way, do you know what they would call a vet that is certified to treat exotics? Just an exotic DVM?

-I've uploaded a pic of Mallyumpkins abscess-

ANSWER: Hi Tiffany, I'm so glad you wrote to me because I do happen to know that an abcessed tumor is no joke and extremely serious!  You cannot wait and need to have it removed immediately as Mally's life is in danger.  You said you will use the vet that removed her last tumor.  It sounds like you trust them and they did a good job for Mally the last time, so by all means, go to them.

As for your other questions, I believe that a good vet should offer the owner all of the alternatives, and explain all of the risks in every situation.  The ones that are too cautious are probably afraid of a lawsuit...I'd steer clear of them.

I'm not certain that there is an official name for an exotic vet.  I know that they have to complete a certified veterinary medicine program and become board certified. My own exotic vet is listed as a DVM/MS.

But most importantly, please make an appointment for Mally asap.  Please write back to me after surgery and let me know how it went.  I pray that everything will go smoothly.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: Thank you so much! You’re so nice.
I’m really surprised how fast you answered my question, wow!

My first instinct was to go to the lady who did her surgery in the first place- in the meantime, my poor Mally has had this thing for at least two weeks. She’s still spotting blood and the meds she’s been given are not helping her (probably because he’s treating her for ‘Myco’ even though she doesn’t even sneeze).

I already decided to at least make an appointment so she can get looked at- I wasn’t sure about surgery- but since this could be cancerous, I really need to know, so she can be put on Tamoxifen (If she makes it).

I really wanted to go back - All I needed was a little boost. Thanks :)
Hopefully everything goes well, but if not, I can at least have peace of mind that I was able to give her a chance.
Thanks again

You are so welcome.  I replied immediately when you told me about the abcessed tumor because I knew how serious it is and there is no time to waste.  Just because it is abcessed does not mean it is cancerous however so don't panic and wait to see what the vet is able to determine.

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Irene Murphy


I can answer a variety of questions regarding adoption and care of pet rats throughout their lifetimes, including questions about their health and well being, temperment, diet, bedding, cages, toys, etc. I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability in a timely manner and I have an abundant amount of resources to help me to help you with your pet rats. I love rattie pictures, so include pics with your question if you can. You may ask me medical questions, but please be advised that I am not a vet. I may use my resources to answer some medical questions, however, I will need to refer you to your local vet with medical questions that I feel I am not qualified to address.


I have been a huge rat enthusiast for many years. Since becoming a rat owner, I have educated myself in all areas of pet rats from every resource I could find including the internet, books, conversations with local exotic vets, as well as several local rat breeders.

I have a college degree but not in the area of animals. I have obtained my extensive experience and knowlege of pet rats all on my own because in my eyes, pet rats are the most interesting and fascinating creatures you can ever imagine to have as pets. I also am saddened by how mislabeled and misunderstood these amazing and extremely smart animals are by the majority, and my mission in life has become to educate and change as many people's perceptions of rats as I possibly can.

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