You are here:

Pet Rats/Ratties health


Not too long ago I took my rats to the vet due to porphyrin on their noses. I was given antibiotics and was instructed to give it to them twice a day for fourteen days. Today is day fourteen and I noticed red discharge on both their noses. Why is this still happening?

ANSWER: Sorry for the delay in my response.  I also have a few questions for you to help me give you the appropriate advice.  First, how old are your rats?  Second, when the porphyrin first appeared, did you notice any changes in your rats behavior, such as lethargy, changes in eating or drinking patterns, etc.?  Next, was the vet you took them to an exotic vet or at least one who has experience with rats?  What was his diagnosis that make him believe they needed antibiotics, or did he just give the meds because of the porphyrin?  What kind of antibioltics were prescribed?  Also, you didn't make it clear if the porphyrin went away during the beginning of the antibiotics and then came back on day 14, or if they had the porphyrin the entire time.  If you could respond with more detailed information, I can better help you.

Meanwhile, I will give you some information about porphyrin in general in case you are not familiar with it.  Porphyrin is not a medical condition per say, but a often a symptom of a condition (much like a fever may be a symptom of a cold).  Porphyrin is often due to either stress or a medical condition, but not always.  Some rats tend to be prone to small amounts of porphyrin usually around their noses throughout their lives and some not at all.  For example it may show up every day when a rat first wakes from a long nap; in this case it would be normal and nothing to worry about.  Only you know your rats well enough to know.  When it is not normal is in cases where the porphyrin is excessive or shows up suddenly in rats who are not prone to it.

That said, I will assume your rats have never had a porphyrin discharge and suddenly did.  In this case, it is certain they are under stress due to an illness or perhaps due to a major change in diet or environment.  If you can rule out the change in diet or environment, then they are probably ill.  So I hope your vet is skilled with treating rats, if not, please get a second opinion from a vet who has experience with rats.  (I can help you locate a reputable local vet if you wish, if you tell me what major city you live in or near to). Here is a link to a web page that gives you a lot more detail about porphyrin:

Now, assuming your rats are ill and didn't show improvement after the first 3 or so days of this antibiotic then it is certain it is not working and should have been switched out to a different one.  A knowledgable rat vet would have told you this.  If your rats were diagnosed with a respiratory infection, Baytril is the drug of choice and should be given for 21 to 30 days straight; 14 days is not enough to entirely eliminate the bacteria and it is certain to relapse.  Many vets prescribe for 14 days because they just are not knowledgeable enough about this.  So if it is respiratory-related and Baytril is prescribed, you must insist on a minimum of 21 days.  

I hope you can get back to me with more information based on my questions for you, and I will be happy to help you further.

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

QUESTION: My rats are both under a year. I got my first from a pet store so I'm not exactly sure how old he is. My second, from a breeder, I got in September, so he is about 3 months. I didn't notice any changes in their behavior. They were acting normal and playful. I mainly saw the porphyrin in my younger rat Gonzo. The vet they were taken to treats exotic animals and have treated rats before, I definitely made sure of that. I explained to the vet what was going on with my rats, she listened to their breathing and examined them. She said that my younger rat Gonzo sounded a bit congested, and she decided to perscribe it to both of them just in case. I'm not sure exactly what medication was perscribed. I know that it's purple and grape flavored if that's any help. I didn't really see the porphyrin in the begining of the antibiotics, but around the end I did. But reading the other information you included in your answer about some rats being prone to it. I noticed that they do wake up from naps and in the morning with it around their noses. That's mainly when I notice it.

Thank you for the additional information.  If your rats' behavior and eating habits are good and they are active, then I would not worry too much.  The color and flavor of the meds does not help me to determine what your vet prescribed.  If she determined congestion in your younger rat, then it's possible he had a respiratory infection, which rats are very prone to.  Some rats never get respiratory flare-ups, but if a rat is prone to them, you will have to watch for them throughout their lives because they do tend to recur and get worse as the rat ages.  

I recommend finding out from your vet what medication was given.  I also suggest you bring Gonzo into the vet again now to see if the congestion is gone.  If it is still there, please insist she prescribe Baytril and insist on a full 21 to 30 day dosage, then be very diligent in giving it to Gonzo for the entire time until it is gone.  Do not stop the meds if the condition seems to get better, or he will likely relapse.  If your other rat is not congested, there is no need to give meds.  

Again, if you notice small amounts of porphyrin regularly, such as after naptimes, and their behavior and eating is good, then there is probably no need to worry.

I hope this has been helpful to you and good luck with your babies!

Pet Rats

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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.

©2017 All rights reserved.