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Pet Rats/Male hairless pulled up testies


QUESTION: My male rat just lost his brother today to an unknown illness when we awoke he was cold and unresponsive we brought him to the vet and he passed away with in a few minutes after having what we believe was a seizure his brother the surviving rat now has started to feel slightly cold to the touch and has since pulled up his testies and is walking funny is he possibly going to meet his brothers fate and should he be seen by a vet please help

ANSWER: Dear Meghan-

Thank you for writing. I am sorry to hear of the passing of your male rat. Sometimes its almost more heartbreaking when our rats die due to unknown causes than from a known illness or injury.

I can understand your concern about your hairless male, having just loss his brother. Most of what you are describing sounds pretty normal as male rats have an open inguinal canal, a small passage that leads through the lower abdominal wall, which is unlike humans or other mammals. This means that male rats can actually draw the testicles up into the cavity to protect them. This is quite normal for rats that are cold or are frightened. Considering that your rat is hairless, it could be the absence of his brother is making him more susceptible to feeling cold (since many hairless rats will snuggle up with their cage mates to keep warm) and perhaps without his brother, he is feeling a bit more nervous. This is purely speculation based on what information I have been given.

I personally would err on the side of caution and have a veterinarian take a look at him only because he was housed with his brother who did pass away, and from what I am getting from your question, your hairless begun showing these odd behaviors following. A veterinarian would be able examine your rat to rule out any possible illness that might have spread and address any concerns you have with your rat's testicular position and gait.  

I do hope I have been of some assistance. Thanks again for your question.

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

QUESTION: When should i get him a new cage mate he is depressed

Dear Meghan-

Getting him a new cagemates is a great idea since rats need other rats for companionship. I would say that you should be able to get him a new cagemate as soon as you are sure there is nothing medically wrong with him. Be sure to quarantine the new addition for a minimum of 2 weeks and to introduce the newcomer in a neutral setting, someplace your male rat has not claimed as "his". A bathtub is a good neutral area to do this.

Hope that helps!  

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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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