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Pet Rats/rat has one squinty eye, otherwise seems fine


My sons have 2 pet rats, both males, housed together in a large cage.  This is our first time with rats.  They occasionally have little tiffs, but most of the time get along great, groom each other, and always sleep next to each other. Two days ago, we noticed one of them had a scratch near his eye. We don't know if it was from a little squabble or from grooming. We rinsed it well with vetericyn, and left it alone because the more we seemed to bother it, the more he would try and groom it and make it bleed and we were afraid he would scratch it again. The next day, one nostril seemed to have a little crust on it, but otherwise he seemed just fine. Today, the scratch looks almost gone, but he seems to be a little squinty in that eye (eye is open, but not as big as the other eye).  There is no discharge, no noticeable swelling, he's eating and drinking and running around like normal, no sign of any crustiness on his nose at all, and no sign of any other discomfort. There's only one vet nearby who sees exotics and they are generally booked out about a week (we know from past experience trying to get a guinea pig in to be seen).  My question:  Should I be worried about our rat?  Or just continue to monitor him?  I did read your info about using fish doxycycline (we actually have human doxycycline on hand), but don't want to jump to antibiotics if he may not need them (I tend to be more of a let the body heal itself when possible kind of person, though I do recognize there is definitely a time and place for medication).  Just not sure if we should be worried or not since the only symptom at all today is the one eye that is a little squinty.  I did look through your website, but didn't find anything specifically about eyes, though I may have missed it.  Any suggestions you have would be appreciated since we may be waiting until next week to see a vet, and other than the squinty eye, he seems fine, just don't want to not jump on it if we should.

Hi Laura,
I think the squinty eye might just still be from some irritation or swelling associated with the scratch. The usual cause for a problem with just one eye, which you often see as persistent porphyrin deposits around just one eye, is some sort of irritation, or debris in the eye. Hairless rats often get debris caught in the inside corner of their eye that must be cleaned out regularly. In hairy rats it is usually an eyelash rubbing on the eye, and there is nothing you can do for that. As soon as the eyelash falls out, it will be fine for a while, but it often just grows back in again.

I guess I don't have eye info on my website. There is an article about eye problems in my Rat Health Care booklet, which you can read about on the Books page of my website at

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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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