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Pet Rats/Infected Rat Eyes


Eyes + Bedding
Eyes + Bedding  
Hi, I have a young female Double Rex rat (5 months old) and she seems to have irritated eyes. I've had rats before and they can often scratch their eyes by accident and end up with a blind eye. She scratched her right eye a few weeks ago and now she's blind in that eye and its remained its unusually large size. She still seemed really happy and acted as normal. But I noticed now and then she would continue to scratch it and there is almost always porphyrin around it.

Then a week ago she started scathing her other eye and I wasn't sure why, unsure if she had scratched it or not. Sometimes he rubs it too, which she is doing right now as I type this.

Her left eye has gone white and the eyelids appear to be swollen and I've noticed the eye smells very horrible, almost like a rotting smell. She's defiantly blind in both eyes now as she no longer responds when something moves around her and she's startled when another rat touches her by surprise.

I've attached photos of her eyes and the bedding I use. I often think the bedding could be responsible. Its like thick pieces of paper (bought from the pet section in a supermarket) and it can be slightly dusty. Its hard to know whether its fur around her eyes or the bedding or something else. I've been online looking frantically for safer bedding, something organic and not dusty. Sadly, I don't live too close to the good big pet stores anymore and the nearest sells wood shavings which I'm not to keen on. I've never owned a double rex before and I know some rats breeds can have different issues. Though she is a double rex, she doesn't ever lose all her fur as her siblings did. Her mother didn't either. Her father was a Berkshire.

I'm taking her to the vet Monday but I would really appreciate advice from someone who truly knows rats. The vets I visit aren't experts on rats and some won't even look at them which is a shame. It costs heaps to take small animals to the vet too.

Thank you for reading.

Hi Shawna,
Whether or not it's the bedding or not, it sounds like there has been debris caught under her eyelids for a long time and you need to clean it out. I don't know if this is something you can do now yourself, or if you'll need to wait for the vet to anesthetize or at least sedate her.

This is not a common problem in rex rats, but hairless rats lack normal eyelashes and can get debris caught in the inside corner of their eyes under their third eyelid.  This debris is most shed fuzz, especially in the semi-hairless rats. So their eyes may need to be cleaned out periodically.  Signs can include the eyes watering or squinting, and a bad smell coming from the eye. You need to use a cotton swab to wipe out the debris or tweezers to gently pick it out. Of course the rats donít like this. Be sure you have bright light and can see the area well.  Wear strong reading glasses if necessary.  If it is a frequent problem and your rat woní hold still, you can ask your vet for an ophthalmic anesthetic to numb the eye before you clean it out.

Next time, don't let a problem go on so long without getting help.

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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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