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Pet Rat Is Weak, Stinky And Has Scabs

Why is a young, female rat ill after an attempt a breeding her?

Karen Rosenthal, DVM, MS
Posted: March 14, 2014, 6:40 p.m. EDT

rat on red background
© Gina Cioli/I-5 Studio
A rat showing signs of illness might just need a dose of antibiotics from the veterinarian to start the road to recovery.

Q: Our 1-year-old rat, Desi, is ill. She is weak and hardly moves out of the house. There is a foul smelling discharge from her vagina. Her body is covered in small scabs, but I am unable to detect anything that could be biting her. She was at my daughter’s house for the past three weeks for breeding. This was her first time, and they do not think that Desi let the young male near her. She was fine last Sunday but by Tuesday she was limp and is eating very, very little. Could this be an emotional reaction to being in a different environment? We cannot afford to take her to the vet's. Can you think of anything that we might be able to treat her at home? How long should we leave her like this?

A: It does sound like Desi is very ill. It is likely the weakness and lack of eating are all secondary to what is causing the initial problem with your rat. Even the skin lesions may be secondary to her real problem.

A very important clue is your note that there is a foul smelling discharge from her vaginal area and that she was at a different home for breeding purposes. It may be that the male was near her long enough to breed with her. The foul smelling discharge from the vaginal area could indicate an infection in the uterus or possibly a pregnancy that is developing abnormally. In both cases, if not treated, a rat can become very weak and is prone to secondary infections. An infection in the uterus can lead to infection in the abdomen or in the bloodstream.

Unfortunately, the best way to help your rat is to bring her to a veterinarian for examination. Sometimes, just the administration of the appropriate antibiotic, if this is an infection, is enough to make her rally and lead to a great improvement in her physical condition.

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Posted: March 14, 2014, 6:40 p.m. EDT


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