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Pet Rats/Advice - Rat Limping


Hi Natasha,
I hope you're well and enjoying the festive season!
I was hoping for some advice regarding one of our Rats, Walter. He's approximately 5-6 months old, and last night we noticed him limping. He is holding his left paw up in the air whilst walking/running/jumping, and doesn't use it for any of his motions (eating etc). I can't see any swelling, bleeding or obvious signs of any injury, but as it has been 24 hrs and his movement doesn't seemed to have improved. His temperament is fine, and he is acting as usual, though when climbing up onto my partner's arm last night he did squeak a little which is unusual.
We're hoping to book to see the vet soon, but our veterinary clinic doesn't have a full-time exotic pet specialist, and so we'll have to wait for a day she is in work next week. I wondered whether there is anything we should be doing in the time being? He lives with his brother and they are very close, they do the usual rough and tumble but Walter doesn't seem to mind it despite his arm so I really don't want to split them whilst it heals if it can be helped.

Many thanks

Dear Emily,

The worry is, like with a human, that he might have broken something. However, your standard vet is not going to be able to set a rat leg, so you have no choice other than to wait (I don't think even the exotics vet would set it; and it is too late anyway). Rats heal that sort of thing pretty well. Though he may keep a limp.

What you should do now is give him some children's liquid ibuprofen. He is probably in pain; and the ibuprofen will not only relieve the pain directly, but also reduce the swelling, which reduces the injury, which both keeps it from getting worse and helps it to heal better.

The recommended doses are 15-60 mg per pound 2-4 times a day; the lower for pain and the higher for swelling. I recommend 30 since you can't feel the swelling but that is what causes pain. Childrens' ibuprofen is 100 mg per 5 mL.  So, assuming your rat weighs one pound, that would be 0.3 mL. If you don't have a syringe to measure with, that is about 6 drops. You can give more if he seems to be in pain or swelling appears.

Do get him to the vet as soon as you can.



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Natasha Millikan


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I have had rats for 3-1/3 years and have researched them extensively. I am a mouse expert with 40 years' experience with mice. The two species are similar and yet also quite different.

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