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Pet Rats/older rats health


Charlie and the cat Brownie best of friends about 1 year ago
Charlie and the cat Br  
I its been awhile since I've asked any questions but i really need some help to calm me down. My oldest rat (2-3 yrs old)Charlie has some things i would like to know about. Yesterday i was cleaning my 3 rat cages and when i was done with the males cage i went to put Charlie and his cage mate Nikolai back in the now completely cleaned cage i noticed one the left eye of Charlie it looks as if it is like a blue cloudy look coming over his 1 eye, i have no clue what's going on with that is he going blind in that eye? oh and it looks as if his right hind foot has swelled up about 2 times the size of his regular foot and on top of that ever since i had had him (about a year) he has large scabs with puss inside. I thought that it was from him being severely overweight and dragging his foot since he was so fat, but now he is where he should be weight wise and now is starting to walk on the wheel. the scab is about half the size of a dime on both feet and he keeps opening up the scab while in the cage and the puss and blood comes out all over the cage (the bedding is made of recycled paper). Please help, should i take him to the vet since he's got some age on him?

Hi Sydney.  The "cloudiness" over Charlie's eye is a sign of a possible cataract, which is a degenerative condition that can lead to blindness.  However, you have to remember that a rat's normal vision is quite poor as it is, so a blind rat can generally get along just fine, making use of his other strong senses including smell and touch.  A rat's whiskers actually help a rat get around, for example letting him know whether a space is large enough for him to fit into.  The best way to find out if Charlie has lost his vision loss is to  flash a flashlight into his eyes to see if his pupils respond.  If they don't respond, there may be vision loss.  At that point, you should consider switching to a one-level cage and keep his food and water always in the same place so that he can easily find it.

To help you with Charlie's swollen foot, it would be helpful if you could send a close-up photo of his foot. Are the scabs on the underside of his foot?  If so, it is likely a case of Bumblefoot, which is an infection in the foot.  Swelling is common with bumblefoot, but oozing and bleeding is usually a sign that the infection is pretty bad.  I highly recommend you take Charlie to a vet as soon as possible as this requires antibiotic treatment.  The recommended medication for this is Trimethoprim-sulfa to be given for at least 10 to 14 days.  For severe edema, Prednisone should be prescribed.  Also, since this condition causes significant discomfort, oral narcotic pain medication such as Torbugesic should be given as well.  If your vet is not an exotic vet or one who is very experienced in treating rats, you may want to provide this information about the recommended medications to him so that the proper treatment is given to get Charlie back to health as quickly as possible.

I hope you will write back to let me know how Charlie is doing a few weeks down the line and please don't hesitate to contact me again with any other questions.  

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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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