Wednesday, January 28, 2009
Dumbo And Mouse At The Vet

By Shellyane Bryan
A rat owner from England shares tales of living with her first rat, Queen Dumbo Duncanson-Bryan, and a rat named Mouse.

Mouse and Dumbo unwillingly take a trip to the vet
Photos Courtesy of Shellyane
Rats are susceptible to all kinds of respiratory diseases, from viruses to pneumonia.

I’m going to be one of those mothers that drag her children to the hospital at the slightest sign of a cough or cold. It’s already begun with my rats. But on this occasion, my neurosis did me a favor.

Dumbo has always had the occasional sneezing fit, and it’s to be expected from baby rats. I’m not surprised Mouse has no control over her tiny, rat sinuses. Though it wasn’t until recently that I noticed the sneezes were more frequent and more violent. They were also accompanied by faint wheezes and the occasional cough that had me shoving their rat bellies to my ear every second to listen to their lungs. Mouse sounded fine, but Dumbo did not. When rats have a cold (or any kind of respiratory infection), their chests sound very crackly. This is known as rales. They sometimes get a faint, rumbling noise caused by the fluid collected within the lungs. They also get more of the porphyrin that I talked about in my last entry around their eyes and their nose. I called the vet the same afternoon and arranged an appointment for the following day.

When I opened Mouse and Dumbo’s carry case at the vet’s, Dumbo scrambled to get out. I think she might be a little claustrophobic, even though she enjoys stretching my sleeves to get inside them. But when it came to being on the small examining table, Dumbo feverishly clung to the sides of the door like a cartoon character. After prying her away from her haven, the vet listened to her chest. Mouse was next, and the vet concluded that neither of them sounded healthy. Both of them were weighed and — thankfully — they were both healthy weights. The vet prescribed some antibiotics for them both to take.

This was the fun part. And, yes, I am being sarcastic.

Trying to get a rat to stay still for anything is practically impossible. If they’re not whipping you in the face with their tail, they are clawing the skin from your hands with their tiny feet. It’s completely by accident, of course, but they know how to use those weapons when it comes to avoiding something they particularly hate.

Just like most children, most rats hate medicine, especially the kind that has to be squirted into their mouths via an ominous-looking syringe. In order to get both of them still enough to get it anywhere near their mouths, I tightly wrapped them up in a towel, enlisted the help of my mum, and got the syringe in and out as quickly as possible. If I, or anyone, hold onto Dumbo for too long, she screeches like a baby to make it known to the universe that she isn’t happy. I even got a squeak out of Mouse today, and she rarely ever makes a sound.

It’s disheartening to hear a pet in distress, but at the same time, it is for their own good. Rats are susceptible to all kinds of respiratory diseases, from viruses to pneumonia, and they deteriorate exceptionally quickly. This was part of the reason I was so keen to get them to the vet. I always believe it better to be safe than sorry, especially when it comes to the health of a pet.

In a couple of weeks, we will see how the two of them are doing. They are both eating and drinking and generally being the usual annoying creatures they always are, so I have high hopes that they will both be absolutely fine.

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