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milk line?
milk line?  
QUESTION: Hi, I'm the person who asked you about the baby rat a few weeks ago.

She is now ~3 weeks old, I think. Until recently, she was still not gaining weight. But now she's gaining fast. She's 29 grams right now. She eats mazuri rat and mouse blocks with a little formula on them and of course formula still. I feed her every three hours. I'm just worried now because she is losing her fur. I think I can even see the milk line on her belly(I'll attach a picture of this). I couldn't see that even when I got her when she was a week old. Is this normal if she's losing her fur? I looked it up and it seems like the fur loss is normal in orphans, but I couldn't find anything about the milk line at this age.

Thanks again.

ANSWER: Hi Mandi,

Thanks for the update and photo! That does look like the milk line, easily visible through the pink skin.

Rats seem to shed their baby coats around 6-8 weeks, with shedding beginning around the nose and belly. Do you notice hair loss anywhere else? Any scabs, redness, or sores? I didn't see that in the picture, but thought I would ask anyway.

Hair loss may be cause by a number of things including parasites, stress, contact dermatitis, over grooming, messy/dirty fur, and even nutrition. She is about 21 days old, so it may be a good time to start offering other sorts of food, such as softer fruits and veggies, with a little formula (small pieces of wheat bread soaked in formula) 3-4 times a day. Good for you for offering rat and mouse blocks- it's a start! You may even want to offer a small amount of water in a shallow dish.

I would monitor the hair loss. When new fur is getting ready to come in, her skin may appear darker, depending on the color of her fur, of course!

Is she actively exploring her surroundings? Did her eyes finally open?

Stacie

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

QUESTION: The hair loss is mostly just on her belly and neck. I noticed it on her neck first. Nothing on her skin; its all just pink like that.

I've been trying to give her some fruits and vegetable too, but she doesn't seem to like them much. Although I just gave her some banana baby food a while ago and she ate a little of that.

Her eyes opened about a week ago and she's been crazy ever since then. I have her in a 10 gallon tank for now until she's big enough to be in a bigger cage.

I just weighed her today and she's now 34 grams, still small but gaining at least.
She seems to be getting a little bloated. Is there anything I can do for that? I think she's been pooping and peeing normally, but I don't stimulate her anymore because she just goes on her own.

Answer
If she seems a bit bloated, you can reduce the number of formula feedings you are giving her. At this age, she doesn't need to be fed as often and should be transitioning to solid food. Just monitor her urination and defecation, make sure that is normal (no diarrhea, etc.).

Let me know how she progresses, and if you have any other questions, don't hesitate to ask!

Thanks!
Stacie

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