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QUESTION: I have an 31 month old male rat and noticed that one of his bottom teeth are missing. He is bruxing normally, but the top teeth are growing awry due to the missing tooth. The one tooth is about 5/6mm overgrown. About 6 months ago he got an abcess on the missing tooth's side and I can still feel a little bump on his jaw. His breath does not stink and he has a normal apetite. He also has a bump in his loin(?) between his leg and penis (I have to check daily for penis plugs). I am ashamed to say that he is overweight and I have started working on his diet. I know that I have to get his teeth clipped, but is there a chance that the missing tooth can grow back? Will I have to get the teeth clipped indefinitely? Any info on how I can help him be as comfortable as possible will be welcomed.

ANSWER: Hi Iddy,
When an incisor breaks off, it usually regrows rather quickly, within a few days to a week. It sounds like his tooth is not going to regrow. I hope you found the article about trimming teeth on my website at www.ratfanclub.org

The bump in his groin is likely an abscess, which is fairly common in males. See the article about Abscesses on my website.

As long as he has one normal bottom incisor he should be able to eat normally.

I'm excited that you are in Namibia! I have never heard from a rat lover there!  I don't suppose rats as pets are very popular there.
Deb

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

QUESTION: Hi Deb,

Thank you for the speedy answer!

I did read the article on your website, but am a bit scared to try trimming alone, so will go to the vet first.

My vet has some experience with rats, but it also hels to talk to an expert on the matter.

Do you have any ideas on what could have caused the bottom incisor to fall out? He lives in a four level cage and is not too stable on his hind legs, so he could have fallen...I tried blocking the rest of the cage at some point but the little bugger is very subborn about getting to the rest of the cage. Now I put padding in the cage where I could so he doesn't hurt himslef if he falls.

The bump on his jaw where he previously had the abcess is also worrying me, but as I said his breath smells fine. His gums are pink and he is not drooling either. What could cause the tooth to fall out?

Yep, all the way from Namibia :)
And yes, not too many rat lovers over here. We don't really get rat food here and I have not come accross the mysterious "lab block" I keep reading about...So you can imagine that we have to make do with what we can for nutrition. Considering his tooth situation, what would you suggest I feed my old boy?

Thank you for your time

Answer
Are you Namibian? Or from somewhere else. Did you buy your rat at a pet shop there?

I would guess there is/was an abscess in the tooth root which has killed it. Fortunately it sounds like the infection has cleared up.

Do you have access to infant formula?  The best supplement for rats who aren’t eating well or who are losing weight is powdered infant formula from the grocery store.  (The liquid form goes bad too fast.)  The brand doesn’t matter because they’re all about the same (Wal-mart's store brand is cheapest).  They contain pretty much all the nutrients a baby needs, and they are 50% fat, so they help put the weight back on them fast. Most rat prefer the soy version to the milk version.

Mix the powder with water, juice or even Ensure.  You can mix it as thick or as thin as you need to.  Thick encourages intake of nutrients and can be fed off your finger, thin encourages intake of fluids.  Most rats love it and will lick it out of a little dish. You can also give it with an eyedropper or syringe. You can also soak or mix ground rat blocks in it.

The infant formula is nearly a complete diet for rats. The only nutrients the formula is short on for rats is the B vitamins.  When giving the formula long-term, add enough liquid vitamin B complex supplement to supply 1 mcg of B12 to each scoop of formula, or you can add ¼ Tablespoon of nutritional yeast (available at health food stores) per scoop of powder.  If your rat doesn’t like it, try adding a tiny drop of vanilla extract or other flavoring.  If that doesn’t work, try adding some whipped cream or ice cream.

If the formula is pretty much all your rat is eating, give one scoop of the powder in the morning and another scoop at night.  One scoop a day is enough if the rat is eating other foods.

I highly recommend my Rat Health Care booklet which includes this and a lot more helpful info.  You can find more info about the booklet on my website at www.ratfanclub.org on the Books page.
Deb

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Debbie Ducommun

Expertise

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 www.ratfanclub.org/helpfinfo.html. 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.

Experience

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.

Organizations
President of Rat Assistance & Teaching Society

Publications
I am a monthly columnist for Pet Business magazine, and my writing has appeared in other magazines. I have 3 published books.

Education/Credentials
BA in Animal Behavior

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