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Pet Rats/rat has diarrhea?


So a couple months ago our old rats died and we got new ones that were 4 months old. They have different habits that our old rats did and they definitely are not as clean as our old rats were. One of the differences between these rats and our old ones is that their poop is pretty soft and stinky but it still is formed. Our old rats never had any soft poop but theirs wasn't hard either, I'd say theirs was normal (the new rats are eating the same foods our old rats did). So occasionally our rats will have diarrhea (which is what my siblings call it) I have only seen it once and it looked pretty similar to liquid. My siblings had a cold that caused sore throat and sinus problems and now I have it. When we are or have been sick we treat the rats as we would humans, we stay away from their face and give kisses on their back, underbellie and side only and thats only if we have felt better. when we are full on sick the rats stay in their cage and only get pet and fed until someone is well enough to hold them.after we think we are no longer sick I have everyone wait 24 hours with no symptoms to go back to holding the rats a usual. Recently I've been feeling better and so have held them in my shirt and on my shoulder being careful to not breath on their face but I accidently did a few times. The reason I'm telling you about the cold we have all had is that I'm wondering if the rats can catch it and also if it is somehow related to the diarrhea. Yesterday or the day before they got some frozen yogurt drops because it was super hot in the house and they were obviously overheating so they got yogurt drops and an ice cube until the AC starting cooling us off. So I guess my question is should we do something about the diarrhea or is it fine?

Hi Isabel,
The only disease rats can possibly catch from humans is strep throat. They can't catch the cold or flu. So you no longer have to limit your contact with your rats when you are sick. The diarrhea is not related. That is usually caused by a food that doesn't agree with them, or an imbalance in the good bacteria in their intestines. Try giving them a probiotic, such as live-culture yogurt twice a day for a few weeks. You can also make a list of the foods you give them to see if anything is related to the diarrhea. What is their basic diet?

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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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