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Pet Rats/whats wrong with my babies?!


Hello Irene,
I just received 2 baby rats, a boy (Greasy) and a girl (Marley)  they are about a month and a half new, and they seem to have a cold
I am not sure what to do for them because they seem very uncomfortable.
The have runny noses and their sneezing is getting very wheezy..  i have read a few things on the internet and truth be told, that is scaring me and just making me think they are VERY sick,.
I would really like your opinion on the matter,  maybe there is something i can do to make them better or at least be able to understand what is going on.. these rats are my pride and joy, like i said "my babies".. please help me Irene i don't want them to be hurting!!

Congratulations on your new babies!  Before I address the illness, I hope that you are keeping them in seperate cages because at as young as 5 weeks of age, females can get pregnant.  Don't even put them together for a second, because it would happen so quickly, you wouldn't even have a chance to blink.  I also want to make you aware that rats should not be kept alone.  They are very social creatures and would be lonely and bored without a cagemate.  That said, please consider getting a same-sex companion for each of them.

Rats don't get colds the way that humans do.  Chances are very high that your babies are suffering from a respiratory infection.  All rats are born with something called mycoplasmosis (myco), which in some rats stays dormant throughout their lives, but in other rats, it flares up causing respiratory issues.  Usually, rats that have myco flare-ups tend to suffer with them from time to time throughout their lives, usually getting more serious as they reach old age (2 years and up).  These flare-ups will not run their course on their own like human colds do.  They require antibiotics.  If not treated promptly, there is a chance it may become serious and possibly turn to pneumonia, and the consequences of that could be deadly.  I am not trying to scare you, just inform you that this it is important to tend to this illness as soon as possible.

I'm going to steer you to a web page written by another expert discussing myco in detail.  Especially pay attention to the part about "Properly treating myco".  You must take them to a good vet that has experience treating rats.  If you need help finding a good vet in your area, tell me your zip code and I can locate one for you.  

When you do go to the vet and if he confirms respiratory infection, ideally he will prescribe Baytril, an antibiotic that has a track record for best success in treating myco outbreaks.  Please insist that a miniumum 21-day dose is prescribed, and look for improvement within the first 3 days.  If no improvement is seen in 3 days, it won't work and a different antibiotic needs to be prescribed, or a combination of antibiotics.  If you do see results in 3 days, remember that it needs to be continued for a full 21 to 30 days.  Anything less will not fully eliminate the infection, resulting in a possible relapse not long after.  Again, this web site will give great detail about this.  Here is the link:

Please let me know if I can help with locating a vet or with anything else.  Good luck to you and may your babies return to good health soon!

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Irene Murphy


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.


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.

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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