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Pet Rats/*Older Female huge tumor-Ques. @ euthanizing


We LOVE our pet rat YOKO & have fed her mostly an organic healthy diet & after she suddenly had a tumor near her hind leg we took her to a great vet who advised it was mammary tumor. Options were to do surgery which she thought might have many complications afterwards due to rat picking at it, infections, etc . Considering her older age approx. 2 & 1/2 (now 3) & high cost $350 for surgery we passed & decided to let her live a pain free life.
She has had a great appetite but the tumor has grown to be huge & now we are thinking that we should put her to sleep before her quality of life is horrible. She is not able to climb or run around due to the size but still eating well.....
We need help finding an affordable vet to euthanize
& knowing when do we do it?
Also, am confused & conflicted about the different ways that vets euthanize....we don't want her to be in pain or suffer at all.
Can you please help us find a vet for less than $60 in LA area
we are willing to drive to a good one ( we live near Santa MOnica & our vet VCA-Santa Monica is $75)
Thanks so much.

I'm so sorry about your Yoko.  It sounds like you have provided her with the best possible life and lots of love.  It is probably wise to not put her through surgery at her age as that would cause her more suffering than living out her life with the tumor, which you likely know is not painful.

The reason Yoko is eating a lot is because she is basically feeding the tumor, which is feeding off her body.  As the tumor grows, her appetite will become voracious, yet she will lose muscle as all the nutrients are going to the tumor.  You may not visibly notice this because of the fluffy fur, but if you feel her back, you will clearly feel her spine with very little muscle and fat surrounding it.

Regarding euthanasia:  be VERY careful!  The ONLY humane method for euthanizing a rat is to FIRST anesthetize her so that she is completely asleep (as if going into surgery).  The vet should test that she is fully under anesthesia and then, and ONLY then, should he perform the final injection (usually directly into the heart or stomach), which she will not feel.

The $75 fee at your vet for euthanasia is actually quite reasonable.  In fact, most reputable vets charge closer to $100.  The high fee covers both the anesthesia and the fatal injection.  I would be very wary of a vet charging much less than that and would fear they are doing the injection without the anesthesia, which is EXTREMELY prolonged and painful for the rat.  There are vets that do it this MUST research and ask many questions to be certain it is done the correct and humane way.  

So what I am saying is that you should not try to penny-pinch in this important matter.  There is no vet that does euthanasia the humane way for less than $60.  I am even questioning your vet's $75 fee as too low.  However, you still have some time...your Yoko seems like she is not ready to go yet.  I recommend you save up in the next few weeks and use a reputable vet when the time comes.  Many vets will be sympathetic to hardships and help you set up a payment plan or bill you after the procedure.

You mentioned you were willing to drive some distance to a good vet but you need to consider the cost of gas as well.  It sounds as though you already have a good local vet...just make certain that they use the humane method.

I want to let you know that there is a newer medication called Lupron that has been used with success in rats on benign tumors.  Lupron helps stop production of estrogen in rats, thus in turn, helps to shrink benign mammary tumors or halt new growth.  The injection is used once per month.  I know one person who has had first hand experience with Lupron with  great success.  Some vets do not provide treatment with Lupron, so if yours does not, call around and hopefully you will find one who is willing.  Something to consider that might extend Yoko's life, but be prepared that it may be costly.

You also asked how you will know when to euthanize.  I can speak from personal experience, and it's almost like a maternal will just know when the time has come.  Right now, the tumor has begun to inhibit her activity but she still seems happy and can get around.  Hopefully, you have adjusted everything in her life so she can reach them easily without having to climb and risk falling (her food, water, hammocks, playthings, etc.).  Eventually, you will somehow be able to see it in her eyes, almost as if she will be asking for your help to let her go.  You will notice that she is not enjoying her life anymore.  She will have lost all energy and desire to move around, groom, and perhaps even eat.  She will begin to smell more because she is not cleaning herself.  She may begin pooping randomly when all her life she used a litter pan or corner of the cage.  It will be a look of being generally miserable.  When you notice all or most of these signs is when you need to make an appointment right away.

Until that time, which may be several weeks or perhaps more than a month, just spoil her silly.  Love her, hold her, give her lots of yummy sweet fattening treats like chocolate and ice cream :)  Do what you can to make her last months happy and make many lasting memories.

After she is gone, allow yourself to grieve and cry.  Although it will be hard, continue to look at photos and videos of her and celebrate the life she had with you.

I hope this was helpful.  This is one of the most difficult things one can face in life, and I truly empathize with what you are going through.  Please don't hesitate to let me know if there is anything else I can answer for you.  Hugs to you and your Yoko.

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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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