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Pet Rats/Rat euthanasia



I recently had to put my beloved rat Rosie to sleep at the vets (UK based). I asked for her to first be gas anaesthetized before having the IC injection, and while the vet would not allow me to be present while anaesthetizing her, he agreed to let me hold her while he injected her.  I have had two of my other babies put to sleep this way so knew what to expect.  When the vet brought Rosie out (which was quicker than usual) I noticed she had a swelling, like rats get after an injection, positioned around the top of her tummy area.  I questioned what the lump was and he said "oh, its um..her sternum" which was absolute rubbish as it was so definitely not. I was wondering whether you know of vets that anaesthetize rats by needle, before administering the IC injection.  I am absolutely horrified at the thought he has done this instead of using gas (probably to save money).  Is there a way you can tell the difference between needle and gas anaesthetic? And is administering anaesthetic this way as excruciating as the IC injection?  I am in pieces about losing her - let alone like this.  Is it worth me complaining?  I know they wouldn't admit to it.  Also when I buried her a few hours later, there was a lot of blood coming out of her nose, which I haven't seen before with my other two?
Many thanks for your time.

Hi Tracey,
I'm so sorry to hear you had to euthanize Rosie. I know this is a stressful decision. I do not think the vet administered an injection of anesthetic to Rosie. Most injectable anesthetics need to be put into a blood vessel. I can't see a vet making an injection in the chest area. Some rats do have a prominent sternum, which can sometimes only be felt when the rat is in a particular postion. Perhaps her sternum became more prominent after she was anesthetized and her body was soft.

As for the blood coming out of her nose, this can happen as the tissues begin to break down after death.

I have an article about euthanasia on my website at on the Rat Info page that you might want to read for future reference. Personally, as long as the rat is not have trouble breathing, the method I prefer is injecting the euthanasia solution into the abdominal cavity. This doesn't require the vet to hit the heart, and allows the rat to gradually drift off.

Please let me know if you have any more questions.

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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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