Posted: March 27, 2010, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: I have a Russian blue dumbo female rat that had a litter of 13 babies. All of the babies are progressing well, except for one hooded little girl. They are about 6 days old now, and we noticed that she has a dent in the side of her head. It's a rather large, noticeable dent. I was just wondering if she will have any disabilities. I am pretty sure she was born with the dent. It is just becoming more noticeable as she is growing. She doesn't seem to have the strength of the other baby rats either.
A: From your description, this rat may have been injured as she was being born, just after she was born or she was born with a congenital lesion. If this is a congenital lesion, it would not be surprising for her to have other problems as she grows. The fact that you believe she has less strength than the other rats leads me to conclude that she is not eating as well and has other issues.
You can do a number of things for this rat. You can bring her to a veterinarian. During the course of the physical examination, the veterinarian might be able to tell you if there are other problems and the chances of her surviving into adulthood. Or you can keep her at home and see how she does.
You could supplement her feedings. The best way to do this properly is to measure her weight against the other rat pups in the litter. Keep feeding her such that her weight is close to the weight of the other pups. If she has severe health issues, even this supplemental feeding will not help her survive, but it is the best chance she has.
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