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Pet Rats/Whats wrong with my rat Buggie


Hello, I am very concerned with my male rat Buggie. He is 21 months old. About 2 1/2 weeks ago I noticed he was walking with his head tilted to one side. So I brought him to the vet and the vet said that his ears were clear and had no ear infection, and it's probably just "old age". The vet prescribed him 'Tribrissen .25cc' twice a day. He doesn't seem to be getting any better. He has lost weight, has a hard time cleaning himself and holding his food, and his testicles and hind feet look blue (mainly his testicles). It also looks like his hair seems to be thinning and his skin looks more red than it normally is. He stills wants to eat and still wants attention, but it seems as if he is getting worse and I don't know what to do. Recently called the vet to ask more questions and they told me there wasn't much they can do because he is old. I have another male rat the same age, in different rooms (my sisters), but he has none of these symptoms as Buggie and he is perfectly fine. Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you

Hi Gina,
I'm very sorry Buggie is so sick. Obviously your vets don't know anything about rats, so you ned to find a better vet. Check the vet referral list on my website at If you can't find a good rat vet, I suggest you order my Rat Health Care booklet (on the Books page) and try to find a vet who will work with you from the booklet.

First of all, when an inner ear infection causes a head tilt, there are no external signs, the infection is behind the eardrum. However, because Buggie has more symptoms than just the head tilt I'm afraid it sounds like he has a pituitary tumor, which is much more serious. See the section on pituitary tumors in the Tumor article on my website.

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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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