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Pet Rats/sterilizing after a myco outbreak


QUESTION: Greetings and thanks for your time,

I just lost my beloved ratty to myco.  I need some time to pass, but I do want to have rats again.  However, I'm not sure how to handle the sanitation of the cage and all of the areas my boy liked to play in.  He lingered for several months and I gave him the run of the apartment, under supervision, to keep him busy and happy, so he's been all over the carpet, the futon, etc.  

What special precautions do I need to take to protect future rats?  Thanks!

I'm sorry to hear of your loss. Can I ask what treatment he was getting, so perhaps I can advise you for the future?  You do not need to do any special cleaning for mycoplasma. The organism cannot survive on any surface.

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QUESTION: Thanks Debbie.  Good to know.  

As for treatment, he was on a heavy regimen of drugs for several months.  My original vet didn't do a really good job and by the time I found a proper exotics vet, Gremlin's brother, Gizmo, was beyond saving and died.  X-rays revealed that Gremlin had consolidation in one lung lobe, possible heart enlargement, and a bit or arthritis.  He also had an intermittent squeak when he breathed, so he was put on metronidazale (spelling?), metacam, and azithromycin oral meds and then an amikacin nebulizer treatment twice a day.  He didn't get better, but he didn't get worse either.  Unfortunately, for some unknown reason, he stopped wanting to take any oral medications after 3 or 4 months.  He would slurp them up when I mixed them in yogurt like it was a special treat, and then one day he acted like I was handing him poison.  I tried mixing them in other things and he wouldn't have any of it. I wrapped him in a towel and squirted the stuff in his mouth and he just held it there and let it leak back out and down his chin, even if I held him against me and leaned back so he was close to upside down.  Rubbing his throat to induce swallowing?  Forget it.  I even smeared it in his fur and he actually refused to clean himself!  The only thing he didn't do to resist was bite me - always a good boy, but he wasn't going to do what he didn't want to do.  Eventually, I gave up traumatizing him and just stayed with the nebulizer for about 2 more months, then stopped that when I saw that he wasn't getting any better and had lots of porphyrin staining around his eyes after the treatments.  The vet and I agreed to give him a break from all the drugs and let him be.  He went for about 3 more months with no problem and no drugs before finally losing all remaining function in one lung and developing small tumors in the other.  He made it to 2 years old and was spunky right up to the end.

I've never heard of using metronidizole for treating myco. It is generally used to treat anaerobic bacteria, which does not include myco. It is also one of the most nasty tasting medications there is.  I'm surprised he took it willingly for so long. I also never use azithromycin. What I recommend for myco in rats is doxycycline and/or Baytril. Since I started using aggressively in my rats, they almost never die from myco now.

Metacam is also nasty tasting, and I never use it to treat myco. Prednisone is a much better anti-inflamatory and works much better for inflammation in the lungs.

I suggest you check out my Rat Health Care booklet on my website at on the Books page. I'm sure you would find it useful, and you might even consider getting one for your vet.

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Debbie Ducommun


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 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.


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.

President of Rat Assistance & Teaching Society

I am a monthly columnist for Pet Business magazine, and my writing has appeared in other magazines. I have 3 published books.

BA in Animal Behavior

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