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Pet Rats/Tumor removal senior rat


Hello, I'm writing because my first pet rat Aida, who is 2 months shy of 3yrs old, has a tumor :(

She's still very lively and her appetite is great. I first noticed it about a month ago it was the size of a small grape and is now 2-3times bigger. I do think she lost a bit of weight over the last month. I've tried to fatten her up but she suddenly has a sensitive stomach and can't handle more than a bit of treats without getting diarrhea.

Money is tight but I'd like to have it removed. I waited this long because the risk of anesthesia is very scary to me. I'm an animal health student and I've seen two rats pass away from the pre analgesia meds. And they were young rats. So I guess what I'm asking is, what is the survival rat of this kind of surgery on a rat her age? Should I get it removed ASAP or is it better to wait.

Below is a recent photo of Aida. Who doesn't usually look so upset but hates to be held that way.

Thank you for any advice,


Hi Gaby,
I agree that it can be very dangerous to use pre-anethetics on rat, and I absolutely don't recommend them. Surgery to remove benign mammary tumors isn't very painful anyway, and in fact, when I remove them I rarely feel I need to give the rat any analgesia at all because after the surgery they are fine and do not seem to be in any pain. Their skin has few pain receptors.

Please read the article about surgery on my website at on the Rat Info page and then discuss each point with your surgeon. As long as these points are followed, surgery for rats is very low risk.  I don't think you should wait any longer to have the tumor removed, and you should consider having her spayed at the same time to reduce the chance of her growing new mammary tumors. Although she is older than most rats when they get their first mammary tumor, since she is still in great shape, she has the potential to live 4-5 years.

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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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