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Pet Rats/Pet rat with belly bloated on both sides.


QUESTION: Hi Debbie! I have a male hairless rat, approximately one year of age named Tremors. Last week I noticed his belly looked extremely large. It is protruding out on both sides (to me it looks like big fat bands on the sides of him) and his testicles are swollen with a blue tint. I took him to the vet 3 days ago to have him examined. They did bloodwork, which came back okay, but they also took x-rays. The thing is, they couldn't see anything in the x-rays because he is filled with fluid. They gave me antibiotics and pain medication for him, which I have been administering every day without fail. The weird thing is, he hasn't stopped eating or drinking or acting like his normal self in this week that he hasn't looked right. He's still pooping, but it looks very soft and has a green color. He pooped at the vets and it was green, but I thought it was because of the collard greens I had fed him that morning, but even now 3 days later with no collard greens, his poop still appears to be green. But as I said, he's still eating, still drinking, still acting like his old self, and is still pooping. Seeing as how the vet couldn't see anything with the x-rays, would you have any help for me on determining what is wrong with my little guy? I found a picture of another hairless rat on a different site, but it's belly looks very similar to my rats (I just think my little guys is a little bigger, but the shapes on the side match perfect to what I see on my guy.) If I post the link to that picture, would you mind taking a look at it so you can get a better idea of what I am talking about? Any help you could offer me would be greatly appreciated, because it is a mystery to me and I am very concerned about my little man! Thank you! Here is the link to the picture of the other hairless ratty.

ANSWER: Hi Chelsea,
So, does his abdomen just feel soft throughout? The green poop could mean it is coming straight from the cecum, without being properly processed into normal poop. It might help to give him some probiotics. You could use yogurt with live cultures.

What did the vet think about his swollen testicles? Do they feel normal?  Could you take a picture of his testicles?

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

Tremors Belly
Tremors Belly  

Tremors Testicles
Tremors Testicles  
QUESTION: Hi Deb! Thank you so much for your fast response! His abdomen feels bloated, I wouldn't say it's soft, but not hard as a rock, just very bloated (almost tight feeling maybe?) When the vet felt his testicles, she said they were filled with fluid (this also showed in the x-rays along with the fluid in his abdomen) and she said she couldn't feel his testicles themselves, but said it was possible that maybe he was just scared and explained how rats can suck their testicles back inside their bodies when scared. She told us that if the antibiotics don't help him, then they could open him up and do surgery on him, but said small animals such as him don't respond well to the anesthesia and the chances of him making it out weren't very good. And we'd hate to put him to sleep when he is acting like his normal self still (eating, drinking, pooping, and acting like his lovable self!) if there is something else we can try to do to help him. We love this little guy and don't want to lose him if there is anything we can do for him! I have attached 2 pictures, one is a top view of him so you can see the bloating and the other is of his testicles (I got the best picture I could of them, that is one picture he did NOT want to sit still for. Lol.) I look forward to hearing back from you and appreciate your help!

Boy, his scrotum is really big. I sure wish you lived near me so I could help you more. I've never seen anything like this. I guess there is so much fluid in his abdomen that it is also going into his scrotum. Unfortunately, in my experience, the usual cause for a lot of fluid in the abdomen is abdominal cancer. So, I'm thinking surgery may not be able to help anyway.

I think you should ask the vet to give him a diuretic, to see if you can get his body to get rid of some of that excess fluid in his abdomen. Also ask him for prednisone at a dose of 1 mg/lb twice a day, to reduce any possible swelling that might be involved. In some cases of cancer prednisone can also help shrink it temporarily.

Oh, yeah, what antibiotic is he on?  I'm going to guess Baytril, as that is the usual one vets prescribe for rats.

BTW, what the vet said about rats not responding well to anethesia is not true. It probably means the vet does not have much experience doing surgery on rats, and really doesn't know the right way to use anesthetic in rats. I suggest you print out the article about surgery on my website at on the Rat Info page to help your vet learn more about rat care. I have done surgery on thousands of rats over the last 30 years, and they usually do very well. I hope your vet is willing to listen and learn something new. Please let me know what happens.

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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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