Posted: December 27, 2009, 5 a.m. EST
Q: We’ve had our rats for two months, and one of them seems to be ill. She sneezes often. We saw her climbing her cage sideways, and then she fell. She won’t sit still when we hold her as she used to. Please advise us of the proper care if possible.
A: You may have two problems. First, respiratory problems are common in rats. Sneezing is a sign of an upper respiratory problem. There are many causes for this, including bacterial, viral and environmental — and all three can happen at the same time!
You can use antibiotics to help with bacterial causes. And you can use the appropriate types of bedding and clean the rats’ enclosure frequently to help improve the environment. There is not much we can do about viruses.
Your rat’s fall may have caused another problem that you need to address. It is possible she caused some damage to her legs or even internally since she won’t sit still. She could be suffering pain.
The best thing you could do for your rat right now is to take her to your veterinarian to have her respiratory problem checked and to make sure she is not in any pain.
See all of Dr. Rosenthal's Critter Q&A articles>>