Pet Rats/Pet Rat


I have 2 pet rats, their names are Scrat and Diego. Today I was looking at them when I noticed that Scrat was stumbling into things and when I pulled him out of the cage I noticed that his right eye is duller than the left and also it has been bleeding as well and I don't know why. My sister and I think that he might be going blind in that eye, but we are not sure. He also seems to not know where he is and we have had him for a while now, so we find that very strange.

Hi Sarah,
How old is Scrat? Older rats can get a pituitary tumor, which presses on their brain and makes them act weird.

Is the red stuff coming out of his eye bright red or brownish red? Rats have a red pigment in their tears called porphyrin.  This red discharge is a brownish red color and is frequently mistaken for blood.  When their eyes water, the porphyrin can become caked around the eyes, or as the tears run down into their nose it can come out their nose.  It can also get caked on their hands, and spread onto their fur and ears as they groom themselves.  It can be easily removed from the fur with hydrogen peroxide, but just use plain water around the eyes.  When they sneeze, it can make tiny red spots in their cage.

If it's just a little, it usually isn't anything to worry about, although if it's a lot or occurs frequently in both eyes it could be a symptom of a respiratory infection or some other problem.  Stress or eye irritation can also cause their eyes to run.  Some beddings, especially pine and cedar (which are toxic) and CareFRESH (which is dusty) can cause them to sneeze.

If it's only one eye it is probably an eyelash rubbing on the eye, and there is nothing you can do for that.  As soon as the eyelash falls out, it will be fine. Rarely it can be an eye infection, but you don't need to give oral antibiotics.  In most states you can buy Terramycin eye ointment from a feed store or pet store to treat an infection in an eye.

If the red coming out the nose was bright red, then it may have been blood.  This is usually due to a nasal infection which is a serious problem that requires strong antibiotic treatment.  Start with amoxicillin. Email me back for more info.

For more info on rat health, I recommend my booklet Rat Health Care.  You will find ordering information on my website at on the books page, plus much more.

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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

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