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Pet Rats/Ratty with a cold?

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Question
Ok well I purchased a double rex male rat and he is a small 4 month old boy.He is abit timi but that's ok.I have him in a 2 story rat cage which he won,t go down to the bottom level to get his food.That's weird I think not to mention I thought rats are curiuos by nature and like to explore?The actuall problem is he seems to be sneezing a lot and acts like he has a cold.There is No discharge coming from his nose or eyes at all and I,m using Carefresh bedding Not pine or cedar.He is eating and drinking but sleeps a lot and lays around .I will not be taking a rat to the vet and here in Oakville thete is NO exotics vets around .Is there something I can do to help him breathe abit better?
thanks
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Answer
Yes, you are right that rats are curious by nature, but you didn't tell me how long since you bought him.  That would be helpful in answering your questions, but I will try anyway.  I will assume you just bought him within the last few days.  If that's the case, then that would explain the sneezing, which is normal whenever a rat comes into a new environment, with new smells around him.  Carefresh bedding is great, but maybe he didn't have this kind of bedding where he came from, so he needs to get used to it.  If the sneezing is due to his new environment, it should normally stop after a few days.

If a few days has gone by and your rat continues to sneeze and seem lethargic, listen closely to his breathing.  Is he wheezing at all?  If you do hear noises from his breathing, it is possible he may have a respiratory infection.  If so, only a vet could determine for sure.  If it is an infection, he would need antibiotics or it will probably get worse and may turn to pneumonia.  I cannot give medical advice as I am not medically trained in rat care, but I can tell you that Baytril and Doxycycline are the drugs of choice for respiratory infections.  You would have to research the proper dosage (you can search this website even), which is based on your rat's weight.  You may be able to obtain them on the internet, I am not sure.  Despite what you may hear or read about giving the antibiotics for 7 to 14 days, that is not enough to fully kill the infection.  It must be given for a minimum of 21 days, even if your rat appears to be better before then.  Otherwise, he may relapse and you would have to start over.

I do have to advise you that if he does have a respiratory infection, he may be prone to them, as these are common in rats.  If he is prone to them, you can expect recurrences and re-medicating him.  These infections will tend to get worse as he gets older and they are nothing to take lightly.  Antibiotics are the only way to treat them.  

To address your concern with your rat's lack of curiosity, it's quite likely that he is lonely and perhaps afraid.  In the place you got him from, he was probably surrounded by a lot of other rats and now he is alone.  I'd like to suggest getting him a companion.  You may be aware that rats are very social by nature and need one or more of their own kind to bond with and slept the active nightime hours playing and exploring with.  Owning two rats takes hardly more time, effort and cost as owning one, so please do consider it.

Also, you mentioned he is sleeping a lot.  If you are seeing him sleeping during the daytime, that is normal, as rats are nocturnal.  At night is when they explore.  Try peeking in on him in the middle of the night to see what he is up to.

If you need more help, please don't hesitate to write back to me.

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Irene Murphy

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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.

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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.

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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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