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Pet Rats/blood drops


my babies <3
my babies <3  
picture of the wall..
picture of the wall..  
QUESTION: Hello, so I have 3 rats in one cage that I basically rescued, they where poorly taken care of and were given to me for free. They had mites which I got rid of since having them.. They're is no vet that sees rats around here and unfortunately I don't drive so a vet isn't an option unfortunately. I don't want to sound like a bad owner or anything but there isn't much I can do besides do the best I can for them and take care of them and love them. Sothese 3 have been together since bought as babies at the pet store, I have no idea how old they are my guess would be maybe a 10months to a year? I moved the cage to clean the bedding, wash the cage , etc and noticed like little specks of blood on the wall that the cage was against... And also on the bars of their cage, should I be worried? They sneeze more often then normal could they be sneezing blood? It is tiny little drops..

ANSWER: I think that is wonderful of you to take in these ratties and give them your care and love.  Thanks for the photo...they are simply adorable and I love their names :)

I have a few questions for you.  Have you moved the cage in the past and didn't notice any blood spots?  So basically, I am trying to find out if the blood spots are recent, or are you not sure?  Perhaps they have been there for months and you hadn't noticed before?

As far as the sneezing, could they be sick with a respiratory infection which is common for rats?  Or have they been sneezing consistently since you got them.  Some sneezing is normal as long as its not excessive.  Normal sneezing can be caused by changes in environment or by the bedding you use (what do you use?).  Sneezing can also be caused by scents in the air close to you wear perfume when you are near them, or burn candles, or smoke?  I clean my rat's cage with vinegar, which is safe for them to breathe, but it does cause them to sneeze temporarily.  

To make sure they are not ill...have you noticed any changes in behavior such as loss of appetite or lethargy when you noticed they started sneezing?  Listen closely to their breathing...does it seem labored with wheezing noises?  Have you noticed any red spots on their coats or around their eyes and/or noses (this is porphyrin, which is not blood), but if it shows up around eyes and noses, it could be a sign of stress or illness.  Do your rats fight (or playfight) and if so, have you noticed any bleeding or scars on their bodies or is the only blood you saw on the wall and cage bars?  

It would be helpful for me to know more information so that I can more accurately diagnose the situation and give you better advice.  I look forward to hearing back from you.

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

QUESTION: I've only had them for about two monthes but my boyfriend has noticed it before I just didn't see it myself as he washed it and I didn't think anything of it. The sneezing.. When I first got them they sneezed a lot more! Probably because of the change of bedding... When I got them the lady was using pine and cedar bedding which I know is toxic to rats. I have been using boxo since I got them. They eat very well, they are little piglets ! I have not noticed any porphyrin and they do playfight..seems to be more often just before they are fed. Usually its kept undercontrol but a few times at night while sleeping it got a little too wild to the point one of the rats would screetch really loud and the whole cage would move but they would stop immediatly. I did notice scabs on one of their tails but not recently and I've tried to seperate the smallest one from the other two because he was the one with the scabs but it did no good, he got very scared , didn't want to be held, etc. They have been together since the pet store I don't know their age but they are very close. I do wear perfume sometimes,maybe that's why I never thought of that. But like I said the sneezing has gone down a lot! They use to sneeze almost constantly when I got them and now I'd say one of them will sneeze every two hours or so. Unless I'm wearing perfume or something :p I'm mostly worried about the blood drops, and another question is how much should I be feeding 3 rats? They're is two bowls in there and I feed them their food once a day and a snack before bed of my food. They always pick out what they want from their food and never empty the bowl. I feel bad when eating around them so always end up sharing haha.

Well, even with this additional information, I still am stumped about why there was blood spots on the wall.  I would monitor the walls in the future; for example, check the walls before going to bed, and if your rats are doing a lot of squealing at night, check the walls in the morning.  It is possible the fighting may be getting a little out of hand but rats don't generally try to hurt each other intentionally.  You could also try lining their cage floors with white paper towels, changing it daily...this would easily show blood.

Regarding the sneezing, you said they sneezed a lot when you first brought them home.  This was certainly due to the change in environment and bedding.  The occasional sneezing every couple of hours is normal...I wouldn't be concerned, and it could definately be your perfume.

Now on to the feeding.  Perhaps I am misunderstanding, but it sounds like you are feeding them on a schedule.  If so, that is the wrong thing to do.  A dry mix of food needs to be kept in their bowl(s) at all times 24x7.  This is because rats have a high metabolic rate and need to graze very often.  In addition to the dry mix, you should give fresh fruits and/or veggies daily.  You can also give other foods from your own meals, as long as it's healthy (such as egg whites, pasta, bread, etc., just make sure the food is plain and not buttered, greasy, salty, etc).  Don't feed any meat as it's too high in protein.  Rats need a low fat, low protein, high grain diet.

I do not recommend pet-store bought dry mixes are they tend to have too much seeds and corn, generally too high in fats.   I will share with you my own dry mix recipe that I make myself. It is easy, quick, and very inexpensive to make, and healthy.  I mix a large amount and keep it in a large tightly sealed container which can last for months.  I buy all ingredients in bulk from a farm to market type store (such as Henry's or Sprouts).  Here is the recipe (use equal amouts of each ingredient except for the ones at the bottom, that I indicate how much:

- Uncooked whole grain rotini pasta
- Cheerios (original) cereal
- Total cereal
- Rice Crispies cereal
- Corn flakes cereal
- Rolled oats
- Barley flakes
- Millet
- Dried peas
- Other dried fruit (bananas, apples, mango, plums, etc.)
- Sunflower seeds (just a pinch)
- Pine nuts (just a pinch)
- Pumpkin seeds (just a pinch)
- Slivered almonds (just a pinch)

Please let me know if there is anything else I can help you with.

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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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