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Pet Rats/Sendai Question Followup



Yes, I do have your rat care guide and read your online article. I have now lost 4 to suspected Sendai since 8/12. They have been all been aggressively treated with Baytril, Doxycycline, Clavamox, and - in the nebulizer - gentamicin. The last of my "visually" sick and outwardly suffering rats were put down this morning. She was a neighbor of the 3 boys who died over the weekend, all brothers and cagemates, 10 months old. My female was 2. One female, aged 20 months, responded immediately to antibiotics and now shows no signs of illness, though she is still quarantined. None of the others responded.

My concern now is for the rest of mine. None of the others are showing symptoms other than the odd sneeze, and I am somewhat paranoid - admittedly they may have those sneeze because we have moved them into new rooms, new cages, etc. The healthiest are all on a different floor, different air supply. Aside from them, there is the cage mate of the female who responded and survives - while missing her terribly, this cagemate has no symptoms but is in one room on the first floor. Two males, one of whom has a history of myco flares (these are brothers about 2 years old) are in another room on the first floor.

How long should I keep the surviving female away from her cage mate? I am worried about the stress on them (tho I need to think with my head I know). I don't understand about the virus shedding - do I keep everyone separate for 60 days? Everyone started out in the same large room - could the 4 I lost be just 'round one?' Does it break out in stages? My vet did not actually test for Sendai, but believes pneumonia would not have attacked so many so fast so virulently.

I did try reading the articles in depth - I'm just not clear on the shedding and QT time. If you have to tell me I've got to live on pins & needles for 60 days ove the others, so be it. I shower and change clothes and change shoes - whatever it takes.

Hi Erin,
I'm sorry you lost 4 of your rats. I also lost 4 boys, all related, a few months ago to a virus brought in by a new rescue. You do not have to keep any of your rats separated. They have all been exposed already. If they haven't gotten sick yet, they are not likely to. Each rat will be more or less susceptible to a virus. Some of my rats never got symptoms, some got mild symptoms, and as I said, aggressive treatment was not able to save the 4 related boys. So, most likely you are over the worst of it, and don't need to do anything special. Just don't bring in any new rats for about 2 months.

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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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