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Pet Rats/Scared rat.


QUESTION: My 3 rats recently escaped their cage, but when I g of home from work I quickly found them. My one rat  was under the cage so when I grabbed him I may have hurt him while trying to pull him out. He squeaked once, but seemed fine while I held him. After I put him back in the cage he promptly hid. Now when I go near him he puffs up shows his teeth and squeaks. Does he just need time to calm down or will he just stay this way? He always used to run up to me and lick my hand and run up my arm. What do you recommend I do?

ANSWER: Hi David,
I think with time he will get over his hurt, both physical and emotional, and trust you again.

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QUESTION: He's been hiding in his small round grass nest and this morning I brought the water bottle over to him and he drank, he then was letting me pet him with my finger when I noticed a little blood from where I don't know. Td when I tried to get him out is when he nipped at my finger. I didn't see blood yesterday, I was thinking maybe a toenail might have gotten caught in the carpet. Not sure what to do. Thanks

ANSWER: It might take a few days for him to get over it. See the article called Trust Training on my website at for how to regain his trust.

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QUESTION: Well I took him to the emergency vet last night because he was really agitated and bit me and drew blood. They did an Cray possible fracture by his his and there was blood in his urine. They gave me pain medicine and a antibiotic. Today he's letting me pick him up, but still hides most of the day. Still saw a little blood in his urine. I'm hoping for the best, but still not sure what will happen. Have you ever heard of symptoms like this?

I'm assuming you meant to type that they did an x-ray. Where is the possible fracture? That was not clear in your message. Certainly, pain cause cause a rat to withdraw, and bite if picked up. What pain medication did they give you? I'm guessing Metacam. What dose? And how much does he weigh? Most vets underdose Metacam for rats quite a bit.

The Metacam dose I recommend for rats is 1 to 2.25 mg/lb, which is 0.6 to 1.5 ml/lb twice a day (when the concentration is 1.5 mg/ml).  See more info below.

Metacam Dose by Debbie Ducommun
I have been doing some research on the best dose of Metacam for rats. The dose most vets prescribe for rats is too low. Metacam (generic name meloxicam) is an NSAID, and therefore works the same way as ibuprofen. The liquid sold by vets is for dogs, and since dogs do not metabolize NSAIDs well, the dog dose is very low (only 0.1 mg/lb). Rats metabolize NSAIDs very well, in fact, so well that the dose of ibuprofen for inflammation in rats is 60 mg/lb 2-4 times a day. (Exotic Animal Formulary, AAHA, 1995, 2001 and Drug Dosage in Laboratory Animals, 3rd ed. Borchard et al, 1990)

By comparing the human dose of ibuprofen to that for rats, and then looking at the human dose of meloxicam (which is 7.5 to 15 mg a day), it appears that the best dose of Metacam for rats is 1 to 2.25 mg/lb. Since the concentration of the Metacam liquid is 1.5 mg/ml, a 1-lb rat would need 0.6 to 1.5 ml. In addition, although meloxicam is only given once a day to humans and dogs, because the ratís metabolism is so much higher, it needs to be given more often to rats. I recently talked with a rat owner giving Metacam to a rat with severe pain, and she reports that once a day was not often enough.  

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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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