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Pet Rats/1 of my pet rats died suddenly


QUESTION: Could you tell me please how a heart attack can be triggered in a dumbo rat? One of my rats was fine one minute then all I heard was a thump and Casper was dead. It's broken my heart and I'm keeping a eye on my other rat patch (he and Casper were friends),patch seems okay at the moment. Casper died early hours of Monday morning

ANSWER: I'm so sorry you lost your little boy so suddenly.  It's painful enough to lose them to an ongoing illness but it's such a shock when they are fine one minute and gone the next.  This happened also to one of my rats so I share and understand your pain.

If there were no prior signs of illness whatsoever (loss of appetite, lethargy, etc.), then it may have been a heart attack or a brain aneurism.  However, rats are so stoic and often don't show signs of pain despite it, that it may have been something else that you were not aware of.

If it was indeed a heart attack, then it's quite likely that Casper had heart disease.  Rats physiologically are very much like humans and many afflictions that are common to humans are also common to rats.  This is why rats are used for medical testing.

I hope that you will consider getting a companion for Patch, especially if you see signs of depression which is common after a loss of a lifelong companion.  If you are planning on this, write back to me and I will give you information on what to and not to do.  Male rats are hard to introduce to new male rats, so great care has to be given if it is to be successful.

Please let me know if I can help you with this or anything else and treasure your time with Patch...these wonderful pets just don't live long enough.

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QUESTION: I'm thinking of getting another dumbo rat but th 1's from pets at home are little dumbo rats,any idea where I can get a dumbo rat that is about a year old? Should I also register my rats with a vet so if I think there is something wrong I can take them there?

ANSWER: Yes, you can look for rat rescues and rat breeders in your area.  Breeders often adopt out their rats that are older as "retired breeders".  You can search on the internet for these.

Before you adopt your new male rat, I want to prepare you for the introduction process.  Two adult male rats who are not neutered are the most difficult to introduce to each other.  Of course, that depends on the personality of both rats.

Is your rat Patch a mellow boy or on the hyper side?  Was he the "boss" (the alpha rat) of Casper or vice versa?  If Patch is mellow, it will be easier to introduce a new boy to him, although still expect some fighting as rats are very territorial, especially males.

I'm going to send you to this website that tells you all about rat introductions.  Please read it carefully, especially the section about introducing 2 adult males.  To make the pairing successful, you need to make sure you follow all the right steps as outlined on this page:

If you don't have any luck finding an adult male rat, it would be ok to get a young male rat from a pet store.  Just make sure that the rat is no younger than 6 weeks of age (for his own safety -- see the link above).  If the pet store's rats are younger than 6 weeks, you can always pick one out, pay for him, and ask the store to hold him for you for a few weeks until he is 6+ weeks old.

Please let me know if I can answer any other questions and let me know if you find a companion for Patch and how the introductions go.

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QUESTION: Patch is mellow and Casper was th boss and I'd patch had food Casper would try to steal it but was when patch would give Casper a lil nip to tell him to back off. Patch lets me hold him and is a laid back rat so to speak,thank u for th link and I'll read th introductions on th pairing of rats

Even tho Patch was the more more mellow of your boys, it sounds as though he still held his own (nipping Casper), so Patch is not a complete pushover.  Prepare yourself for Patch not welcoming the new rat with open arms (or paws).  Patch will probably try to kick him or fight him in some way.

I'm going to give you another link to a youtube video about using a rat introduction technique called "Glove Rat".  Basically, when you're ready for introductions, wear a thick glove and be ready to intervene at the slightest hint of aggression or fear.  Here is the link:

Also, when selecing your new rat, whether from a breeder, rescue, or pet store, be sure to ask lots of questions and/or observe the rats you will be choosing from to make sure you select a more mellow rat, to make introductions as smooth as possible.  Sometimes the new rat could end up being the more aggressive and may frighten your poor Patch.  But don't worry and try not to get upset if you see Patch being bullied.  It is part of a natural process.  If all goes well, and with your help and intervention when necessary, over hopefully a short time the two boys will work out who will be the new alpha and then they can then live in harmony.  

Please ask if I can help you with anything else and lots of luck to you.

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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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