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Pet Rats/why a rat should see the vet


QUESTION: Thank you so much for all this information!
Unfortunately, my parents arent being too supportive and they feel like she shouldnt go to the vet
They dont think its serious enough and it really angers me. There is something clearly wrong with her and she needs treatment. Ive mentioned to them the medicines youve recommended. They arent thrilled that a perscription is needed because some vets arent as cooperative as others. Is there any medication similar to Revolution that is sold at stores? Over the counter treatment? If there isnt, theyre going to have to take me to the vet but its much easier to obtain it without a perscription. Thanks a lot for your help.

ANSWER: Dear Yosilin,

Ivermectin was the best parisiticide before Revolution was invented, and it is still used. It also kills what bites the animal, though it does not last for a month and should be applied 3-4 times, a week apart.

You can get ivermectin formulated for horses at a feed store or on Amazon. The dose for a full grown rat is the size of a grain of rice; so you would be giving your baby a little more than a pin head.

The other formulation of ivermectin is if you buy the liquid Iver-On which is for cattle. This you dilute to 1:5 (five parts water to one part Iver-On) and spray or spread on the back of the animal. I do not know if this technique is as strong as the solid form. My rat friends tell me about that kind, whereas I know the liquid treatment from the mouse community. Still, for a baby the liquid might be the safer way to try.

The problem with not going to the vet is that there will be several days delay before she gets treated, and she may be sick now. Rats don't show any signs of illness until it is pretty serious. She could get super sick, super fast. And mites can kill too. But ordering everything overnight express, especially on the weekend, will cost as much or more than a vet visit.

I still really recommend the vet visit. Considering where she came from, she would do best to have a thorough check-up. Do tell your parents what I said about rats not showing illness until it is serious. You can imagine that a prey animal showing any signs of illness would get eaten immediately, whether moving more slowly, looking sick, or making noise. If a mouse or rat looks, or sounds, or acts sick, it is sick. There is no such thing as, for instance, "just a cold" or having an infection that she can fight off. She would not be exhibiting symptoms if she could fight it off on her own.

Especially a baby rat who was taken away from her mom too early, is very vulnerable. She has not had a good start in life. Giving her a checkup and the best treatment possible would help her get a paw up into the world.

A friend who got a feeder rat baby, contacted me when it got sick right away. Even though I actually obtained and sent him three strong antibiotics, the rat hung on for three months and finally just died. It was tragic. Little guy never had much of a chance. I don't want this to happen to your girl. Nor do I want her to give whatever contagious condition she may have brought with her from the pet store, to the other rat.

Best of luck and health to her.



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QUESTION: My parents have agreed to take her to the vet so Im trying to find and exotic pet vet
However, a new problem has come up. I woke up to find that other rat has a swollen face on one side.
She is the love of my life and about 3 months old. She has a mass growing under her neck and it wasnt there last night. Its under her neck, between her arms. Its pretty big and its kind of squishy
It doesnt seem to cause her pain if i touch it but she much calmer than usual. I am really scared. she was completley fine and healthy a few hours ago. I have two rats and both of them arent okay. I dont even know  hat to do. It seems like Im the only one who cares for them and it annoys me that I cant do all I want to do for them :(

ANSWER: Dear Yosilin,

I am glad you were able to convince your parents to bring her to the vet. At least these two things happened at the same time, so the other rat can go to the vet too.

If the lump really grew overnight-- it wasn't just that you didn't notice it-- that can actually be a very good sign. Tumors can grow fast, but not that fast. What can grow fast is an abscess. However, abscesses are usually hard and not squishy, so I am not entirely sure.

It does mean, however, that the vet visit is pretty important. An abscess is not a serious thing, even such a large one, if it has timely medical attention.  A vet will probably drain an abscess and give the rat antibiotics; you may be given instructions on how to drain it again later or keep it clean. And if it is not an abscess, the vet can figure out what it is and hopefully there is something to be done to help.

What you can do now to treat it is to apply warm heat to the lump 2-3 times a day. I don't know if she will sit still for you to hold a hot, wet washcloth against it. Some people use cabbage leaves, or a chunk of cabbage, and heat them up in the microwave or boil them-- I am sure you can figure out what would be too hot-- and cut a piece of sock to put around her to keep them on. There are other ideas at the link I am about to give you.

The wet heat brings an abscess to the surface.  This means it may open up and drain.  It may smell absolutely disgusting. If it does open, it should be kept clean.

This is the link to the page on Debbie's site about abscesses. Although she mentions waiting, this abscess, being so large and in such a prominent place, should have attention right away. It could be glandular, and it could cause trouble with swallowing.

If Debbie and I disagree, she is probably right. However, she deals with a lot at home that should be brought to the vet-- by anyone else. She knows more than many, if not most, rat vets; and even does minor surgery.

So do your research quickly to find a good exotics vet.  Unfortunately, in many places there is only one exotics person, and they are not there every day. So you want to call as quickly as possible to try to get an appointment.  

These links may help you to find a vet-- although they may be outdated:

This can help:

The rest of Debbie's site is extremely helpful too. And she is the one who I call when I have a problem. It is fine to write to me, but she knows a *lot* more than I do. So even though her response time is a little longer, it is probably worth the wait. And if you buy her rat medicine guide you can get your answers even more quickly next time.

If the rat does seem to be in pain, you can give her some liquid children's Tylenol or ibuprofen. If she weighs about a pound, the dose for ibuprofen would be about 0.2 ml, which is about 4 drops. The dose for Tylenol would be about twice that. She can have this up to 4 times a day.

I'm sorry your little tykes are having so much trouble. Still, the timing is right. At least both can go in at the same time.  

Best of luck and health to both of them.



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

hard lump
hard lump  

both lumps
both lumps  
QUESTION: We called pet stores inorder to find exotic vets. They gave us some numbers but the vets only handled fish and reptiles. I got a vets number about an hour ago. I know he neuters rats
Im planning on taking them tomorrow and see if its opened. I realized that the mass was actually two different lumps. The squishy lump has decreased in size and its in between her arms(under side). The other lump is hard and its in her throat/neck area. Shes eating fine and acting (for the most part) the same.  I took some pictures with my camera but my laptop has stopped working. So i took a picture of a picture because shes a crazy girl and my phone camera isnt fast enough. I did try and apply heat to her but shes so energetic thats its hard to. When I started holding her tighter she did squeak so it alarmed me. So im not too sure if shes feeling pain or she just got annoyed. Excuse the bad quality of the pics. Youve been tons of help and I really appreciate it! (:

Hi Yosilin,

I am glad that you found a competent vet because that bump is in a bad place. It could interfere with her swallowing and maybe even her breathing. If it is hard it is probably an abscess, which is good; but it would not be be easy for you to tend to yourself.

I wish her the best of luck.



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Natasha Millikan


Consider me a sub, when no one else is available. NOTE YOU MUST NOT HAVE ONLY ONE RAT. JOIN MY FACEBOOK GROUP (because there are smarter people than me there!!): ***** ***** Excellent sites: **** **** **** **** **** ****


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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