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Pet Rats/My female rat is very skinny and scruffy


Overall appearence
Overall appearence  

Close up of her fur
Close up of her fur  

My female rat is a nearly a year old now and she started off very engergetic, a good weight, kept herself groomed etc. she does have a respiratory problem which we have battled with trying to fix, she's had it since she was a real baby (we got her when she was a few weeks old). I'm very worried about her now because she looks very scruffy and doesn't seem to clean herself. I can feel every bone in her body and she always has a tired look on her face with her eyes half closed. This is very unusual for her and she's been like this for a few weeks now. She's eating and drinking normally but her energy and overall appearance has dramatically dropped, do you have any idea what it could be?


Thank you for your question and providing photographs.

Weight loss can be one of the first indicators of a developing illness in a rat.It is also common in rats that might have had a dietary change take place. Have you changed her food recently? Sometimes rats will "turn their nose up to" new foods which often results in some weight loss at first. A change in coat appearance could be from that sudden avoidance to eat the new food or it could be a nutritional imbalance, such as excessive amounts of protein for example. I would also check her teeth- the weight loss, unkempt grooming, and tired expression (rats tend to squint when in pain) could have something to do with her teeth. Ensure that they are of an appropriate length and check the color. Rats front incisors should be orange to yellow, not white.  

My advice would be to see a vet. There are so many factors that could contribute to weight loss in rats that a qualified vet would best be able to determine its cause.

I hope that helps!
Good luck!

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Shawna Laufer


Nutrition has always been an interest of mine as well as creating stimulating environments for rats. I conduct product reviews on my blog so I can take questions regarding products marketed or intended for rats. Other questions regarding basic husbandry, feeding, grooming, and other pet rat care will be accepted. I have very little breeding experience so I would not be able to answer much in the ways of breeding or genetics questions. I can help with some basic health care questions but am not a vet and always suggest contacting your vet for serious inquires.


I have over 13 years of experience with pet rats, having worked in several pet stores, as a veterinary tech assistant, and with my own pet rats. I run a highly regarded blog on the subject of pet rat ownership ( with a corresponding YouTube channel and Facebook page. I have been and always will be open to questions and comments.

A photograph of my lady rat's cage is being published in Worth Publishers' college textbook "How Children Develop, 4e" by Robert Siegler, Judy DeLoache and Nancy Eisenberg on the subject of how complex, stimulating environments and how they relate to the brains of rats.

I have some college experience, but not in the field of animals. I completed the majority of an at-home Veterinary Technician course which I was unable to complete due to financial reason. The majority of my knowledge on rats have come from personal experience, conducting my own research with the help of published medical studies and journal, the internet and through other knowledgeable 'rat people'.

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