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Pet Rats/rats swollen belly


QUESTION: So I've asked questions about Missy's condition before but I'm not sure to who and I couldn't add another follow up from my second follow up so I created a new question. My rat Missy has a swollen belly and I wouldn't say its huge but its definitely noticeable. When I previously asked a question about it and attached a picture the person said that it was probably because she wasn't digesting food as well as normal and to try a fresh, soft food diet. I have taken this advice and have made yogurt drops with fresh fruit mixed in them which she devours and I put a bowl of fresh fruit in their two nights ago and with the help of her sister it was gone overnight. I would say that her stomach looked better after all the fruit but the next day it was back to where it was in the first place. Today we put her in a warm bath for a second time which scared the poop out of her, again, and I thought it felt better but before the bath my mom was rubbing her tummy and she peed on herself (also again) and she pooped. Her pee is what has me worried though because when it came out it was really thick and was dripping slowly down her fur. Missy doesn't normally pee on herself so I'm a little worried. After the bath the same thick yellow liquid was on her fur in that area again. We looked it up and the internet said to make sure she drinks lots of water but Missy seems to be rejecting it yet when I pull up some excess skin it returns to normal quick which I read is a sign of hydration. Missy had also started to hang out in a corner which isn't normal either. She wasn't acting odd til now and I was gonna give three days of the whole diet then if it wasn't better take her to the vet but with these new developments I'm not exactly comfortable waiting that long. Do you think I should go to the vet? I'm pretty sure its some kind of infection, maybe a urinary tract infection? Can rats get those? I don't know what to do but it hurts me to think of her sitting in the corner possibly trying to poop or pee to no avail and in discomfort. Please help! I know its late on a Sunday but please answer ASAP I really want advice and my parents can't do anything and we are not big fans of spending a lot of money for a vet visit for an animal who isn't gonna live long anyway but if it can be resolved im willing to pay but I would like a go ahead or an I think you should go to the vet:/ she doesn't seem to be in major discomfort and it doesn't hurt to push on or massage her tummy but I would say she's starting to act lethargic and that might be a sign of discomfort although she brightens up perfectly normal when I talk to her and when I feed her. There is no lump, no way she could be pregnant, I was told she's to young for mega-colon and she didn't seem to be in pain or discomfort until acting odd today so I'm not really sure what to think, I think it might be time for professional advice and possibly.medication, do you?

ANSWER: Hi Isabel, luckily, I happened to check my email before I called it a night.  Absolutely, you need to get her to a good vet, one who has experience n treating rats.  I would not hesitate another day!   Take her in asap tomorrow!  Tell the vet it's urgent and ask them to squeeze you in.

Because rats are prey animals, instinctively they mask pain very well until it is extreme or if they are close to death.  A common sign of pain is when a rat begins to sit in a corner and not want to do much.   This is why you should get her in quickly.  She is not too young to have mega colon, in fact rats with megacolon die within the first week of birth.  Since Missy is pooping, it's not megacolon.  Megacolon is a condition where the intestines are blocked and they cannot poop.m. But it could be a partial blockage.

I'm inclined to agree with you...that it is an infection, most likely urinary tract, but I cannot be sure.  Regardless, she needs a good vet to examine her, and if it is an infection, to prescribe antibiotics.

Please write me after you take her in and let me know what the vet said.  I'm hoping your little girl pulls through this quickly.

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QUESTION: My dad wants to try on home treatment because of the cost of a vet. Here is a link he sent me, He wants me to try the senekot which is a natural bowel movement helper. Do you think we have a chance or do you think it is unsafe to try home treatment at this stage of her condition? He did just say that we can take her to the vet but to give her the senekot. Do think its okay to give her it?

ANSWER: Hi Isabel, I'm following up to,ask how your baby is doing?   Did you do the home treatment?   Did you see a vet?  I hope she is better.

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

QUESTION: Missy seems to be doing better. Her tummy isn't as swollen but there is new crusty stuff in her vagina. I have been in frequent contact with another expert and she thinks that it may be a tumor on her intestines but the swelling has gone down in the past three days and the crusty stuff in her vagina has appeared. We are still not sure what's going on although we are assuming tumor. I did take her to the vet but they were not any help. Medications don't seem to be working but we can't be sure so we really have no idea what's going on.

Is it Debbie Ducommon you've been working with?  If so, go ahead and continue with her and I'll drop off.  No reason to work with two experts for the same issue.  

I do want to say that the vet you took her to obviously wasn't a vet experienced with rats.  If Debbie is not able to help you, I still recommend doing a search for exotic vets even if they are a little further away.

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Irene Murphy


I can answer a variety of questions regarding adoption and care of pet rats throughout their lifetimes, including questions about their health and well being, temperment, diet, bedding, cages, toys, etc. I will try to answer your questions to the best of my ability in a timely manner and I have an abundant amount of resources to help me to help you with your pet rats. I love rattie pictures, so include pics with your question if you can. You may ask me medical questions, but please be advised that I am not a vet. I may use my resources to answer some medical questions, however, I will need to refer you to your local vet with medical questions that I feel I am not qualified to address.


I have been a huge rat enthusiast for many years. Since becoming a rat owner, I have educated myself in all areas of pet rats from every resource I could find including the internet, books, conversations with local exotic vets, as well as several local rat breeders.

I have a college degree but not in the area of animals. I have obtained my extensive experience and knowlege of pet rats all on my own because in my eyes, pet rats are the most interesting and fascinating creatures you can ever imagine to have as pets. I also am saddened by how mislabeled and misunderstood these amazing and extremely smart animals are by the majority, and my mission in life has become to educate and change as many people's perceptions of rats as I possibly can.

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