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Pet Rats/Summer Heat

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Question
Hello
I have a male rat who is approximately 1 years old. I live in Australia and it is getting quite hot lately. Today it reached the 30s but my rat lives outside. I didn't notice anything earlier in the day but when I came out to feed the dog, I found my rat to be lying stretched out. I thought he was only sleeping but became concerned after he doesn't come over to me like he usually does. I immediately took him inside and wrapped ice cubes in a wet cloth and wiped him down with it in an attempt to cool him down. He continually drinks water and chews on the ice cubes. He is also grinding his teeth quite a lot more than usual. He looks quite weak and tired; he doesn't move around as much when handled and can't walk without leaning to a side. At first, he couldn't get up at all but after a while he could walk around but is still leaning. I kept him inside for a while now and have given him water and frozen fruit. I don't know what's wrong with him and don't know what else I can do for. Should I take him to a vet? Right now, he seems less stressed, quieter and grinds his teeth less. Is this something that will pass? Did I over reacted and he really was just sleeping and got stressed because I took him inside? Over this summer, I will be keeping him inside for safety measures. Please reply ASAP because I have no idea what to do! Thank you.

Answer
Hi Diem-Anh,
You did not overreact. Sounds like your rat had heat stroke. You did the right thing to cool him off. You should also give him to drink some juice, or maybe a sports drink to give him some electrolytes. Probably he will recover completely over time.

You cannot let a rat live outside where it gets hotter than 32 degrees. I'm glad that you will be keeping him in your house for the rest of the summer. BTW, have you thought about getting him a roommate? Rats are very social and do best with a friend. Unless you can spend at least 4 hours a day with him, he is probably very lonely.
Deb

Pet Rats

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Debbie Ducommun

Expertise

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 www.ratfanclub.org/helpfinfo.html. 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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
President of Rat Assistance & Teaching Society

Publications
I am a monthly columnist for Pet Business magazine, and my writing has appeared in other magazines. I have 3 published books.

Education/Credentials
BA in Animal Behavior

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