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Pet Rats/Is my rat sick?


My rat nearly never sneezes but about a week ago she started sneezing non stop she would sneeze for hours non stop, stop for a little while and sneeze more. I made sure she had her body heat and she did. Yesterday I gave my rats a bath and I might had hurt her  alittle bit because she started making funny low pitch sounds, which continued. She still is sneezing non stop and making these low pitch sounds that sort of sound like someone crying/sniffly their nose. Her weight hasn't changed and she seems to be eating like she usually does just not digging in to the food like she used to. My girl is about 5 months old now she's been healthy all summer but now the weather is getting a bit colder in Australia but not much different from what she's used to. She makes the sounds both in and out of the cage. Because it's holidays mum says the vets aren't open so I can't go and give her a check up until a few more days. Also there's no signs in weather she's injured and she's moving the same amount as she has been for the last month. Her weights stabely been at 350 grams for about 3 weeks now. Is she okay? If she isn't should I take her out of the big cage and move her to the smaller cage incase her illness passes onto my other girl rat(4 months)?

Your girl is definitely ill, but it's not a cold like humans get and not from the colder weather.

All rats are born with mycoplasmosis, a condition that can either sit dormant for a rats entire lifetime, or flare up in other rats throughout their life and cause respiratory illness.  From what you describe, your rat has a respiratory infection.  The noises other than sneezing probably sound like monkey noises or chirping.  

Myco flare ups are mainly caused by either stress, or excess ammonia odor from urine if the cage is not cleaned often enough.  It can also be caused by other odors nearby the cage such as cigarette smoke, scented candles, cleaning these should not be used anywhere in the vicinity of the cage.

It's probably too late to isolate your sick girl from your other girl as she's already been exposed to it.

However, you need to have your sick girl treated right away with antibiotics.  A combination of Baytril and Doxycycline is recommended.  Please take her to a vet as soon as possible.  Perhaps there is an urgent care clinic open during holidays?  They can give this prescription as well.  Make sure that you request a full 21 days prescription (don't let them tell you that 10 or 14 days is enough).  If you don't give the full course of 21 days, your girl could have a relapse.

Also, when you start the medication, you should see an improvement within the first 3 days.  If you don't then a different antibiotic is necessary.  Even if she improves very quickly, it is critical you continue the full 21 day course of medication to prevent a relapse.

Until you can go to the vet, make sure her cage is thorough cleaned to eliminate all urine odor and keep it very clean.  If she has any trouble breathing, take her into a small bathroom and run very hot water in the shower to steam it up and keep her in the bathroom to breathe the steam for at least 15 minutes and repeat this every time she has trouble breathing.  You can also offer her a tiny piece of dark chocolate several times a day...the chocolate and steam will help open her airways.

If you don't take care of this with meds quickly, it can turn to pneumonia and cause death.

Please let me know if I can answer anything else.  

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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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