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Pet Rats/bloody bulging eye


Hello Debbie,

Yesterday morning, I saw my hairless rat and she had dried up blood going from eye to nose on the right side. This was sudden, I didnt see it before. No falling over, no refusal to eat, etc.

Eye on right side is bulging with little white in center of cornea, but filled with light blood in rest of eye inside.. little plugged up dried liquid on right nose, which I keep cleaned up. Today, more gooey white, darker red.

Im questioning possible glaucoma vs pituitary tumor? Im thinking glaucoma since she hasnt shown any abnormal signs. She is a very active rat, and still runs on her giant wheel.

I would love to hear your thoughts. Shes about 1 1/2 yrs. If and when her eye pops, will she bleed to death? Or is it possible to stop the bleeding and do irrigation? Thank you

Hi Erika,
This is definitely not a PT. Bulging eyes is a rare symptom for a PT, and it is always both eyes. (It is a side effect of the PT stimulating the thyroid gland.) I don't know if this is glaucoma, but it is obviously something wrong with the eye. It could be from an injury, an infection inside the eye, or even (heaven forbid) a tumor.

I have not seen a lot of eyes that burst, but I don't think bleeding is a major concern. What usually happens is that the fluid inside the eye comes out, the eye just shrinks up and heals and then the rat has an abnormally small non-functional eye, which is not a problem. The cornea, which is what usually bursts, has very little blood supply.

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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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