Pet Rats/Rat Stroke


Hello my name is Alyssa and I've owned rats for some time now.  I'm very good at caring for them and training them but that said... I don't know much in the ways of serious illness or injury.

A little over a year ago I rescued two young female rats.  Their names are Stinker and Ditzy... I know, I know... great names.  My little brother called them that and it stuck.

Anyway, some time ago Ditzy seemed to be suffering a spinal injury.  I have the suspicion that she had a stroke while I was out.  This is because for the next month she had problems walking and doing things on her own.  She would stick to the first floor of her enclosure and roll places instead of walking.  I had to hand feed her for that month.  I worried about her being in pain... but she acted normal otherwise.  She was initially tired and slept a lot, but before long she was back to tearing up newspaper and pushing her toys around like always...but she did so rolling.  

She's gotten quite a bit better.  She now walks constantly leaning to the left side.  Her head is always tilted left and her left hind leg drags quite a bit. She's eating on her own, and grooming just fine.  We've been keeping a sharp eye on her for any seizures.

She does hide a lot and isn't fond of being handled, but she's always been like that.  She's fine with being scratched or petted.

One more thing, Stinker has become incredibly protective of Ditzy.  (Not violently, she doesn't bite.)  But she doesn't like to be out of sight of Ditzy and will constantly try to get back to her.  Stinker is extremely social and loves being handled... so I wonder if she senses the injury.

Any insight would be wonderful.  Thank you!

Hi Alyssa,
It does sound like Ditzy may have had a stroke. Rolling can also be caused by an inner ear infection. If it wasn't for the impairment of her back leg, I would say the most likely cause was an inner ear infection. Why did you not seek treatment for you when it first happened?  

It does sound like Stinker is more protective of Ditzy because of her handicap.

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Debbie Ducommun


I can answer any questions about pet rats, but you will probably be able find answers to simple questions more quickly on my website at If you have a life-threatening emergency you can try calling me at 530-899-0605. I am not usually on the computer on the weekend.


I have been "The Rat Lady" since 1985 and am recognized as one of the world's experts on pet rats. I have 3 published books and already answer lots of questions about rats daily.

President of Rat Assistance & Teaching Society

I am a monthly columnist for Pet Business magazine, and my writing has appeared in other magazines. I have 3 published books.

BA in Animal Behavior

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