Posted: April 27, 2011, 5 a.m. EDT
Q: I got my rats about a month ago. One of them, her name is Chloee, has formed bloody-looking discharge by her eye. Today I came home from school, and her eye was sealed shut. Her other symptoms include sniffing, sneezing, shaking, discharge and loss of appetite. I am very concerned and don't know what to do!
A: Your rat probably has an upper respiratory infection. This is common in rats. In some rats, this can also spread to the eye and then the rat has infections in both the eye and the upper respiratory tract. When the eye and surrounding glandular tissue is infected, sometimes there will be a reddish discharge. This is due to porphyrin pigments and not necessarily a bleeding disorder.
In most cases, rats get better when we put them on a course of antibiotics and make sure their environment is as non-dusty as possible.
To help your rat, first visit your veterinarian, who can make the correct diagnosis and put your rat back on the road to health by prescribing the correct antibiotics, if that is what is necessary. Your rat may even need some pain medication if your veterinarian feels she is experiencing pain from this infection.
At home, clean out any areas around your rats’ cage and in the rats’ cage that could contribute to dust in the area. Use non-aromatic litter in the cage. Make sure there is good airflow in the cage area. Finally, do not use carpet cleaners or products that might put particles in the air around your rat’s cage.
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