You are here:

Pet Rats/My Pet Rat's Eye


Hi. My 18 month old female pet rat appears to have something wrong with her eye. It is not quite fully open and has some red-brown gunk around it. She does not appear to be in pain and is eating and acting normally. There have been no changes to her routine, bedding, food etc.
      We thought maybe it was a bit like conjunctivitis that humans get?
      Could we use diluted human eyedrops? All we have done is clean it with warm water.
      Can you help?

Thanks!!! :)

Hi Lula, the reddish gunk around rat's eyes and/or nose is called porphyrin.  Some rats always show a little porphyrin around their eyes when they wake up and if this is always the case, then it is nothing to worry about.  However, if your rat is showing porphyrin now and has not in the past, then it is a sign of either stress or illness.

Being prey animals by nature, rats never show signs of pain or illness unless it is really bad pain or if they are extremely ill and/or close to death.  Just because she is eating and acting normally does not mean there is nothing wrong.

First you should quickly rule out any reasons for stress.  Has there been a change in her environment that coincides with the porphyrin around her eye? For example, moving her cage from one place to a new one, or aromas/scents in her area (such as scented candles, smoke, cleaning agent...all of which should never be used around rats).  You already said no changes have been made to diet or bedding.

If nothing has changed in her environment, then I would tend to believe she is ill and possibly in pain.  You don't want to hesitate and act quickly by getting her in to a good vet that is experienced with exotic animals, not just a regular vet.  Rats' health can go downhill very quickly if the illness is not treated promptly.  If you don't have an exotic vet near you that you know of, I can help locate one for you if you reply back with your city or closest large city.  I believe you are in the U.K. and I do have access to exotic vets there as well.

Pet Rats

All Answers

Answers by Expert:

Ask Experts


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.

©2016 All rights reserved.