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  1. #1
    BPnet Veteran Jay_Bunny's Avatar
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    Respiratory Infections in Rats

    What can cause a rat to develop a respiratory infection or respiratory illness?

    How fast can it spread?

    Will it spread to other pets in the house (cats, small mammals?)

    Can it be transmitted to humans?

    The reason I ask is because not very long ago, one of our rats had a fractured leg. He had no other symptoms and then two days after seeing the vet for his fractured leg, he dies. Tonight I go in to feed the rats and I hold one of Gazelle's babies. Then I hear one of the feeder rejects, to be breeder, females, is sitting in her cage, gasping and making a clicking sound when she tries to breath. I take her out and normally she would have tried to bite me but she was completely oblivious to the fact that I'm holding her. Her eyes are wide open and she's just gasping. Her heartbeat is really fast and her breating extremely labored. We take her out of the room and set her up in a small critter carrier we use to take animals to the vet.

    We were just talking about the next plan of action and I tell my fiance I'm going in to feed the rest of the rodents and check to see if everyone else is ok. I look in Gazelle's cage and one of the babies is not moving. I'm not sure if its the one I held or not but his body is going cold. I know it wasn't like that when I had gone in before and picked up one of the babies because all were squirming.

    When I checked all the rats and fed them yesterday, everyone was fine. Now suddenly I have a dead baby and one adult that is struggling to live. We cannot get to a vet tonight but we will be waking up at the crack of dawn to call the vet and schedule an emergency visit if the rat is still alive by tomorrow.
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  2. #2
    BPnet Veteran Gloryhound's Avatar
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    Re: Respiratory Infections in Rats

    Rat rooms and cages need to have good ventilation due to the possible build up of amonia gasses. Do you cages have proper ventilation and are any of them in a position which could cause a dead zone of no air movement. Also do you have any kind of exhaust fan set up. Not sure how many rats we are talking about her but if you have a nice size colony, 30 or more rats you need to have at least an open window and you start getting up to 50 or more you need some kind of forced air ventilation. Odds are against this being the problem since so few seem to be affected, but it might be!

  3. #3
    BPnet Veteran littleindiangirl's Avatar
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    Re: Respiratory Infections in Rats

    Sounds like a viral infection if it is spreading and killing the rats.

    Mycoplasma is quite literally in every single rat. It flares up when the rats immune system is stressed. Mycoplasma is usually not a problem, but as the rat's age they will slowly succumb to the effects of the lowered immune system, leaving the door open for a myco flare up. Young rats do not show the effects as much as an older rat. The sneezing, poryphrin staining around the nose and eyes, these are all usually from an irritated respiratory system (no ventilation, build up of ammonia, dusty bedding, pine or cedar) further irritated by the myco. (lead to respiratory distress, etc)

    Another idea, is if you had any other rodents in the same room as your breeding colony. Quarantine is of the upmost importance because the transmittable viruses and bacteria from foreign rats will quite literally kill your whole colony with efficient speed.

    It could quite literally be any number of illnesses. I'm sure Becky will have better and more detailed ideas.

  4. #4
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    Re: Respiratory Infections in Rats

    i have a homemade cage in our bedroom for our 2 pet rats. they have been sneezing for over a month now but it seems to have slowed down since i started using aspen instead of the horse bedding pellets.

    behind the cage, the wall has a bunch of red spots which looks like blood on the wall but im assuming its not blood? the female has red crusty stuff around her nose.

    the male tried to breed her a week ago and was trying to breed her again last night so im guessing she didnt get pregnant the first time or could he just be frisky? im guessing her illness may be preventing her from conceiving?

  5. #5
    BPnet Veteran littleindiangirl's Avatar
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    Re: Respiratory Infections in Rats

    Quote Originally Posted by ch312 View Post
    i have a homemade cage in our bedroom for our 2 pet rats. they have been sneezing for over a month now but it seems to have slowed down since i started using aspen instead of the horse bedding pellets.

    behind the cage, the wall has a bunch of red spots which looks like blood on the wall but im assuming its not blood? the female has red crusty stuff around her nose.

    the male tried to breed her a week ago and was trying to breed her again last night so im guessing she didnt get pregnant the first time or could he just be frisky? im guessing her illness may be preventing her from conceiving?
    The red stains on the wall are poryphrin from sneezing, along with some urine. (Just keep that in mind ) The stain around the nose is an indicator or stress, or illness, allergies. Most of my rats do not have the staining around their noses or eyes very often.

    If your trying to breed, the male will breed her when she is in heat. They will go at quite often when she is in heat. I don't actually know if illness stops them from getting pregnant, but I don't think it would factor in that much.

    Some rats just dont deal well with myco, and will never shake the initial symptoms without antibiotic treatment. Always best to choose animals that show little to no sneezing, or staining. Some rats are more resilient to the effects of myco, so practicing selectivity with hold backs is another ingredient to a successful colony.

    I can name 4 rats that don't deal well with myco in my colony, two that get very sick from it and are never bred, and 2 get the sniffles often enough for me to be concerned to not hold back from them.

  6. #6
    BPnet Veteran SatanicIntention's Avatar
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    Re: Respiratory Infections in Rats

    You have something going through your colony and it needs to be remedied quickly. Those rats need to be put on aggressive antibiotics, such as a Baytril/Doxycycline combo for a good 14 days.

    People don't ever remember to quarantine rats. Rats can carry very bad viruses, such as SDA, Sendai, Staph-based pneumonia, and more. This is all contagious. Myco flare-ups are not. QUARANTINE QUARANTINE QUARANTINE! 30 DAYS MINIMUM! Or you will get sick and dying rats that may possibly be affected for life, regardless of if antibiotics are given. Their lungs scar very easily.

    If you have an established colony of rats, bringing in feeders from outside sources SHOULD NOT BE DONE without a quarantine. You risk the health of your entire colony. Jay, your rats WILL die without getting antibiotics for them all. The virus or whatever is being passed around the colony will slowly keep killing them and will affect any rats you bring into the colony.

    They NEED to see a vet and they need GOOD antibiotics(Amoxicillin will not cut it). Do not put Tylan in their water either, they will not drink it and will just become dehydrated.

    Also, do not bring rats in from outside sources, and do not go to any pet stores and then immediately go home. You should always stay away from your home at least 2-3 hours after visiting a pet store with rats in stock, or you risk contaminating everything.
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  7. #7
    BPnet Veteran SatanicIntention's Avatar
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    Re: Respiratory Infections in Rats

    Quote Originally Posted by ch312 View Post
    i have a homemade cage in our bedroom for our 2 pet rats. they have been sneezing for over a month now but it seems to have slowed down since i started using aspen instead of the horse bedding pellets.

    behind the cage, the wall has a bunch of red spots which looks like blood on the wall but im assuming its not blood? the female has red crusty stuff around her nose.

    the male tried to breed her a week ago and was trying to breed her again last night so im guessing she didnt get pregnant the first time or could he just be frisky? im guessing her illness may be preventing her from conceiving?
    WHY are you breeding a rat that is possibly sick and stressed? That's just going to put even more stress on her and she will likely just resorb the babies or have a miscarriage from it. Separate her and give her a dose of Children's Benadryl(0.1-0.2mL) every 4-6 hours. Getting them off of those pine pellets was a good thing. It's too dusty for them when it breaks down and pine affects rats more than it affects mice. Their respiratory systems are just too fragile.

    Main thing is to get her away from the male so she doesn't end up pregnant. Get her on some low-dust bedding, like the aspen, and try the antihistamines. If she doesn't respond to those, then she'll need to see the vet for some antibiotics.
    --Becky--
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  8. #8
    BPnet Veteran Jay_Bunny's Avatar
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    Re: Respiratory Infections in Rats

    The rat has a vet appointment at 11 and my fiance is leaving now to take her. Her breathing is not as labored as it was last night but she's still struggling. She has been kept in a seperate room from the colony. The colony is only 8 individuals not including the babies. On the subject of babies, another pup died this morning.

    How should I go about quarantining the whole colony? They share a room with my sugar gliders and snakes.
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  9. #9
    BPnet Veteran littleindiangirl's Avatar
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    Re: Respiratory Infections in Rats

    Quote Originally Posted by Jay_Bunny View Post
    The rat has a vet appointment at 11 and my fiance is leaving now to take her. Her breathing is not as labored as it was last night but she's still struggling. She has been kept in a seperate room from the colony. The colony is only 8 individuals not including the babies. On the subject of babies, another pup died this morning.

    How should I go about quarantining the whole colony? They share a room with my sugar gliders and snakes.
    I'm not all up on rat diseases, but your worried about this spreading to the sugar gliders correct? I would just move them out of the room for now, unless it's easier to move the rats.

    As to quarantining the rats, any new ones recently? I'd hate to say it, but treating 8 rats with anti-biotics, especially aggressive ones suggested by Becky will not be easy on your pocket book unless you have an extra nice vet.

    I would remove the sick ones, and the ones that have been the closest to them into a separate room far away from the others. Most rat diseases are very contagious like Becky said. It'd almost be pointless, but no harm done in doing it anyways. Just practice very strict procedures when dealing inbetween them. (change of clothes and shoes, washing up strict)

    I can't see very many people treating all of their rats for most illnesses (I get laughed at for it I'm sure), but hopefully you can figure out what the problem is and decide on a course of action from there.

    If it is something very debilitating to your rats, you may have to start over from scratch. (knock on wood) Hopefully it's something easy to deal with.

  10. #10
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    Re: Respiratory Infections in Rats

    Quote Originally Posted by SatanicIntention View Post
    WHY are you breeding a rat that is possibly sick and stressed?
    because i dont have anymore enclosures suitable for a rat. im not concerned about the rats breeding too. i have over 12 adult mice to get rid of with another 8 frozen so if the rats dont produce thats fine.

    i just picked up 2 more adult female rats today so hopefully they will get their groove on

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