You are here:

Pet Rats/Young rat with no eyes


QUESTION: Howdy! I've taken on a challenging little ratlet earlier today and I was seeking some advice. He's somewhere between six to eight weeks old, most likely, and a hairless. He has no eyes and no scarring around the sockets so I am assuming a birth defect (others of his litter had poorly formed eyes). He was alert and friendly and very curious about my fingers (and confident too!) and the pet shop worker said I could take him if I liked because all he was good for would be snake food.
I checked him over as best I could. He's got a few surface scratches, as hairless rats are likely to get, and his breathing seems steady and easy. There is no porphyrin staining around the nose, but he has been sneezing a bit off and on now that he's settled in a hospital tank on top of clean fleece.

My concern is a bit of discharge coming from the empty eye sockets. I wasn't able to smell anything coming from them and he doesn't squeak or act pained if I manipulate his eyelids but I'm worried there might be foreign matter inside or something irritating them. He was on paper pellets and hay at the store, with plenty of loose particulate around the tank. Would it be worth it to try to flush them or just monitor for the time being?

ANSWER: Hi Danny,
God bless you for rescuing this poor baby! I don't think you need to worry too much about the eye discharge. I've had other rats with similar problems, and infection seems to be a low risk. Just monitor his eyes. If they get infected, the first sign will be a bad smell.

Do you have another rat his age to be a companion for him? That would be the best thing for him. Also, I'm sure you realize that you need to keep everything in his cage the same arrangement so he can find his way around.  Merry Christmas!

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

QUESTION: Luckily, I've had a blind rat before, so I'm familiar with accommodating for that! My other boy actually had eyes though, but no vision (or some very basic perception of light/shadow, since he'd respond occasionally to shadows in front of bright light). I also made a mistake in sexing! It is a little girl, but her being hairless threw me off. She looked a good deal like a boy with his testes pulled in close, but I noticed nipples on an inspection last night. She's so squirrely, it was hard to get her steady!

I have plans to get her a companion after monitoring for health issues over a couple weeks and to give her a little bit to put some size on. She was easily the smallest of her littermates.
You say you've had rats with similar problems so I'm assuming you mean that they've either lost eyes or never had them. Do you have any other advice on the care-front? I was figuring keeping her on fleece to avoid loose particles getting into the sockets on accident. My hospital tank is just that and is too small for two rats. My other is a pretty large multi-level (about two feet high). My adult blind rat had some hiccups learning to navigate it but he did manage. This gal has three times the confidence he had, so I'm wondering if it would be alright to introduce that cage when I get her companion? (My other rats passed away so the big cage is empty.)

Merry Christmas to you as well!

Could you get a girl her same size from the same store? I hate for her to be alone that long. Imagine being a place all alone when you can't see. Don't you think it's scary for her?  As long as you have amoxicillin on hand to treat any sickness, a health quarantine is not that necessary.

Yes, I've had rats with a damaged eye, and those born with tiny non-functional eyes, and fortunately, they never had any real problems with their eyes.

Pet Rats

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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

©2017 All rights reserved.