Pet Rats/rat foot


QUESTION: Hi there ive been recently telling you about my rat foot problem. He was meant to get toe amputated but because his foot was swollen they  refused to operate as his chances were poor of recovering and healing. The vet in other words was hinting of getting him put to sleep. I refused for now to let antibiotics kick in plus hes still healthy, active and 9 months old . I asked if it was possible to remove leg but because he has spinal nerve problems he cant use his back legs properly she said he would just drag his body around and his stomach would get dirty etc. But rats that have hind leg paralysis get around pretty well. I would like to get it amputated to see how he gets on give him a chance. Whats your views on this?

ANSWER: I do not recommend amputation unless as a last resort as he will tend to have problems with the stump. Send me another picture to see what it looks like now. And why are his back legs paralysed when he is only 9 months old?  Did he have an injury?

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QUESTION: Vets think he has a spinal/nerve problem so he cant feel his back legs properly as he walks on his knuckle bits on back foot. Ive lowered everything in cage for him as he still tends to climb. Now and again he will keep nibbling foot. Ive been keeping foot clean using hibiscrub and cleaning his cage daily. (Im using puppy pads.) Its not as swollen as before. Hes  still eating and running about. Also hes still on pain relief and antibiotics atm till they run out. But as before he dont seem bothered or phased at all. Just a acting normal. He sees his brothers during the day so hes not lonely.

I do not recommend amputation. It just tends to cause more problems than it solves. Did the hind leg paralysis come on gradually or suddenly? Maybe a chiropractor could help. See more below.

Also, be sure you don't overdo it with the hibiscrub. Too much cleaning can irritate the skin and interfere with healing.

It's possible that your rat could have knocked a vertebra out of alignment and won't get better until the vertebra is proper realigned.  This happened to one of my rats when he fell.  His back legs were paralyzed.  This is not something a vet could detect unless they were trained in chiropractic.

I recommend seeing if you can find a chiropractor who would be willing to take a look at him. If the paralysis occurred suddenly it is very likely that his back was knocked out of alignment. Some vets are trained in chiropractic, but many human chiropractors are also willing to treat animals as a challenge.  My chiropractor has successfully treated 4 of my rats with jaw/neck/back problems!
Here in CA, a chiropractor can't charge money for treating animals unless they have a special veterinary license, because that is practicing veterinary medicine without a license, and most states will probably be similar.

If you donít see a chiropractor yourself, ask your friends if they can recommend one.  Otherwise, just start calling those in the phone book to see if they would be willing to treat an animal.

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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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