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Question
Hi, I came home from work today to find the top floor of my four floor rat cage covered in blood. I looked at each of my three rats and I couldn't find any source for the blood. One of them has some red discharge coming from his nose, but it's not actively leaking and I read that it was common for stressed rats to get, and I just got them. They all get along fine, I don't think they've been fighting, but I'm very worried. One of them is older and bigger than the others (I don't know his exact age because I adopted him), the other two are younger and a smaller breed, I only got them a week ago.

Answer
Hi Meghan,
I'm sure this was alarming! I'm glad they are all okay. The blood might have been from one of them biting their tongue, or maybe from inside their ear. Occasionally while grooming inside their ear they can accidentally hit a blood vessel.

What you saw coming from the one's nose was probably porphyrin. Rats have a red pigment in their tears called porphyrin.  This red discharge is a brownish red color and is frequently mistaken for blood.  When their eyes water, the porphyrin can become caked around the eyes, or as the tears run down into their nose it can come out their nose.  It can also get caked on their hands, and spread onto their fur and ears as they groom themselves.  It can be easily removed from the fur with hydrogen peroxide, but just use plain water around the eyes.  When they sneeze, it can make tiny red spots in their cage.

For more info on rat health, I recommend my booklet Rat Health Care.  You will find ordering information on my website at www.ratfanclub.org on the Books page, plus much more.
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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