Hello! I have a very serious question to ask! My baby rat has blood dried up around her nose! She has a sister. What should I do? Should I take both back? Thanks!

Dear Jenna-

Thank you for your question.

Rats' mucous is reddish in tint, called porphyrin, and is often mistaken for blood. Porphyrin will be lighter in color, almost an orange-red and dry to a light red, where as blood will be bright red and dry to a dark red to brown.

It is not uncommon to see this red discoloration around the eyes and nose. Excess porphyrin is usually due to stress or illness. The stress could be from the new surroundings. Many rats get what is referred to as "New Home Sneezes". With so many new smells, and often with new litter, rats sometime sneeze for the first couple of days in their new home as they get used to their surroundings. Just being in a new, unfamiliar place could cause some stress which could lead to extra porphyrin.

Illness, such as a respiratory infection, is the other leading cause of porphyrin. Pet store bought rats often have this build up of porphyrin, usually brought on by stress of transportation, living in less than sanitary conditions, and poor to mediocre care. Most rats are carriers of a disease called Mycoplasma(Mycoplasmosis)which is a respiratory infections that is incurable.

With a cotton swab dampened with warm water, gently clean up any red discharge you see. Watch your rat for signs of illness.  Signs of illness would include labored breathing, listlessness, a hunched over appearance, failure to eat or drink, etc.

If your rat displays any of these signs, you will want to take them to a vet immediately as a rats' health can deteriorate quickly. It is your decision as to whether or not you return your rat(s)- depending on where you got them from and what the return policy is on your rat(s). Or if the red discharge you are describing is bright red (dried to deep red/brown)and/or if your rat has suffered a fall, you will want to see a vet right away, as this very well may be blood, usually caused by some type of trauma.

If this is a new rat, give them a day or so to become adjusted to their new surroundings. This means keeping them in a quiet location of the home where they will not be disturbed. As tempting as it is to want to hold and play with new rats right away, it is best to give them a few days to get used to their new homes, as stress free as possible. Keep an eye on the other rat as well for signs of illness and stress as well.

I hope this helps. Remember, when in doubt in any situation, always err on the side of caution and bring them into a vet. Thanks again for your question.  

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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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