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Pet Rats/White rats-red


So I just gave my white rat a bath for the first time, and I noticed he has red on the sides of his neck and a little on his face area. Is this normal?

Hi Brittany,
Yes, this is normal. Rats have a red pigment in their tears called porphyrin.  This red discharge is a brownish red color and is frequently mistaken for blood.  When their eyes water, the porphyrin can become caked around the eyes, or as the tears run down into their nose it can come out their nose.  It can also get caked on their hands, and spread onto their fur and ears as they groom themselves.  It can be easily removed from the fur with hydrogen peroxide, but just use plain water around the eyes.  When they sneeze, it can make tiny red spots in their cage.

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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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