ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Signs of Illness In Your Rat

Updated on October 22, 2010

Signs of Illness in Fancy Rats

Pet rats are cute, furry, smart, and social. No one wants anything to be wrong with their pet, not even a pet rat. Typically, they are very hardy pets. When they get sick, they generally don't show any signs of illness until it's further into the illness, which is why it's important to be alert with your pet rat, watching for any differences in behavior, sleep patterns, and appetite.

Here are some signs of illness in rats.


Hair loss, Scratching, Rubbing, Chewing, Swelling, Redness, Scaly, Sores,Dry fur


Diarrhea, Weight loss, Poor appetite, Bloating, Discharge, Lethargy, Infertility, Excessive water consumption, Excessive Urination


Limping, Holding up a paw, Abnormal angles to limbs


Incoordination, Trembling, Seizures, Paralysis, Depression


Discharge from eyes/nose, Wheezing, Labored breathing, Hunched posture, Change in awake/sleep cycle, Increased aggression, Curled position, Rigid standing, Stiff gait, Slow chewing/lack thereof, Drooling

This little girl had severe Upper Respiratory Infection due to unsanitary conditions at the petstore. After seeing the vet, she died later the same day.
This little girl had severe Upper Respiratory Infection due to unsanitary conditions at the petstore. After seeing the vet, she died later the same day.

Upper Respiratory Infection

A common rat illnesses is upper respiratory infection. Surprisingly, or not, rats have sensitive respiratory symptoms and can acquire resperiatory infection rather easily. Unsanitary living conditions, improper nutrition, excess dust, stress, and many other causes can bring about respiratory problems.

The symptoms you want to look for include Swaggering gait, Reddish brown staining around eyes or nose, Face rubbing, Wheezing, Labored breathing, Poor appetite, Weight loss, Hunched posture, Chattering, and Lethargy.


If you notice any signs of illness in your pet rat, you should go to the vet as soon as you can. A vet can diagnose the symptoms and prescribe the proper medicines. Do not try to self-diagnose any symptoms that you may be seeing, because you could be wrong, and you never want to put your pet in any danger by self-medicating or self-prescribing something that may harm your rat. And, NEVER get medicine ideas from the internet. There are so many sites out there that contain mis-information. You do not want to take advise from a website that may be completely inaccurate. You could end up poisoning or overdosing your pet.

If you cannot make it to the vet right away, you CAN help your rat by disenfecting the cage, adding a little pedialyte to the water bottle, and putting fresh fruits and vegetables in the cages. The fresh produce will help boost nutrition levels, and hopefully boost immunity levels. But, take your pet to the vet as soon as your can. These will not cure any illness, just hopefully help boost the rat's immunity.

Disclaimer: Please be aware that the advice in this article should in no way replace that of a licensed veterinarian. The methods outlined above may or may not work for your pet. If you have any concerns, you should consult a specialized reptile veterinarian.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • GalaxyRat profile image

      GalaxyRat 3 months ago from The Crazy Rat Lady's House

      Tempy, my Rat, wheezes just a little, but I am sure I clean his cage a lot, so...

    • profile image

      i need help ASAP!!!!!!! MY RAT IS DYING!!!!!!! 3 years ago

      I CAME home with my rat tonight and he wasn't moving and his back feet are purple but still breathing (barly) please help!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      rex 4 years ago

      thanks for the advise

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Two years ago i had a female white fancy rat from petsmart.... soon after taking her home I noticed she sneezed a lot...but i didn't think much of it cause that was the first time i had ever had a rat and the people at petsmart suggested it was just the new smells. However, approximatley 6 months later, she died of what i think was a respiratory infection.

      Now, two years later, i have a fancy rat and two dumbos and i noticed the fancy and one of the dumbos (which are housed together) were starting to sneeze similarily to my other rat that sadly passed..... i know they need vet care in order to avoi the ending of my last rat but there is not a vet in my area that takes care of rats sadly..... i was wondering if there were any home remedies that could help my rats recover from there most likely respiratory infection

    • profile image

      Kay 5 years ago

      Sorry for the spelling mistakes im on my phone i ment my rat bites me like im food not good, :) x

    • profile image

      Kay 5 years ago

      I purchased two male rats and they constantley sneeze all the time also one of my rats have started to squeak and im very concearned i have no idea what to do. My other rat bites me all the time like im good I ever feed him throughthe cage or anything but he always bites me how can I prevent this? And I clean my rat cage once a week but my rats smell i have tried giving them a bath but they can't stand the water :( any suggestions on what else I could try ? Thanks in advance :) x

    • profile image

      Codi 5 years ago

      I need help! I just purchased a rat from a pet store that was being put in a cage with wood shavings. (NOT GOOD) I took him in eagerly and instantly took him home. I do not know how long he had been in the wood shavings but I switched him over to care fresh, the soft tissue kind that is great for rats. I recommend this to anyone and everyone. Sully loves it! He has a luxury rat condo, with a wheel, three ramps, three levels, a pouch to hide in, a hammock, chew toys, a tunnel, a ball to retrieve treats from, a cloth to sleep on and fresh water in a bottle along with rat blocks with his food split fifty fifty. I give him fresh fruits, such as apples and pieces of banana. I also give him lettuce, carrots with his meal. Sometimes I will give him a tiny broke off piece of fresh bread to go along with this. His water that I have separate from his bottle, is diluted with droplets of apple juice (100% juice) and I currently have a heating pad on low underneath one side of his cage. I've been removing poo from his cage and placing it in his litter box. As well as shifting it around and making sure everything is clean. I've placed a towel over the front side of the cage, but the other sides are open and he has plenty of air flow but there are no drafts to make the situation worse. When I brought him home, he was sneezing constantly. Rubbing his face a lot. I thought, okay, new rats are supposed to sneeze, this is normal. I waited a day. Then it got worse. I had fallen asleep and heard him making this noise, its indescribable or hard to mimick.It woke me, actually. Like a sneeze, cough, thing? I'm not sure. That's when I realized Sully, my boy rat, is sick. I looked everywhere and knew instantly he had a URI. I was told to give him sudafed raspberry flavored nasal decongestant syrup 0.5 mg which is a tiny drop from a dropper every 4-6 hours, only 2-3 times a day, no more for than a week. He shakes at times and when I put my hand on his fur it moves away from me. The skin? Hard to explain. I took him into the bathroom with me and ran a hot shower. We both sat in the floor and I let the humidity open everything up for him for 10 minutes and took him back to his cage. He IS eating/drinking but gets sudden bursts of energy out of nowhere. (That must be common for younger rats) and is still sneezing. Since I've given him his syrup the noise hasn't occurred. My mom isn't a very sensitive woman and doesn't have much sympathy for rats like me. She refuses to take him to the vet. I'm afraid something is going to happen to my baby Sully. I love him with all of my heart and he is the sweetest baby. Just thinking about this makes me want to cry because I know he needs to see a vet and get antibiotics. Can someone recommend something? ANYTHING? PLEASE? He looks so pitiful :( Is it possible for me to go to the pet store and mention that they gave me a sick rat? What will they do for me? Pay the medical expenses? HELP.

    • profile image

      gareth 5 years ago

      @ Whitney05 thanks very much for your reply, I'm so happy it has been 24 hours and she seems already 100% better, she is moving around allot more, not as hunched and stopped grinding her teeth continuously, still has her strong weezing but. Anyway i think she will be fine with another 2 weeks of treatment and love LOL. I'm surprised how quickly the antibiotics seen to be working..

      Ps: sorry for all the spelling mistakes and wrong words on the last posts. I'm on my mobile :-)

    • profile image

      gareth 5 years ago

      @jesse I wouldn't worry to much, as when I first brang my two rats home they sneezed and hadn't eaten for a while. My friend who is a longtime rat owner informed me that this is common as new smells and places may just mess with there alergies for a little bit but they quickly overcome it, and that they are still exploring there inviroment so they might not eat for a few hours.

    • profile image

      jesse 5 years ago

      hey i just got a female fancy rat today, shes been sneezing a little no stuff coming out of eyes or hunched position or anything like that i haven't seen her eat yet ive only had her for maybe 2 or 3 hours tops i think, is it bad that shes sneezing or is it just allergies, plz respond im worried

    • Whitney05 profile image

      Whitney 5 years ago from Georgia

      baytril is a great antibiotic. If the rat is too sickly, but it's sort of like if a person waits too late for treatment, it's a long hard road to recovery. Good luck

    • profile image

      gareth 5 years ago

      Hey there, I'm pretty sure my rat has a respitory infection because I got home from a four day holiday yesterday and she didn't look to good at all, she dropped allot of weight, hunched over and slow while grinding her teeth. She is very much attached to me and this is the first time I have left her alone, I think she might have been stressed wondering where I was. Anyway I took her to the vet immediately and was prescribed baytril oral and vibraet, I was wondering if this is the most successful antibiotics ? It's been 12 hours since I started treating her and she seems to not have improved or gotten worse. She is stays in one place for ages unless I come to the cage she comes to greet me like the beautiful rat she is. I have been feeding her heaps of water through a siringe oraly and feeding her.. I really hope she doesn't pass or I will be devostated.. can anyone tell me what antibiotics successfully cured your rat?

    • profile image

      riocus 5 years ago

      i have a rat that is quiet an old rat we have had him for 3 years and when we got him he was a fairly young rat. Last year my other rat died and he had misty eyes and hair loss and loss of appetite and he never stopped drinking and now my rat now has that and he also has redness around his nose/ eyes, he can't put any pressure on his front right paw and he also has this weird smell when he cuddles up to people, you smell this smell and it is kind-of like a rotten skin smell but i am scared of taking him to the vet. Should i take him to the vet or should i keep him at home and also, if i took him to the vet would he be put down because he is an old rat and they would not be able to help him and if they did would he get better or stay the same.

    • profile image

      Amber 6 years ago

      To Michelle-

      I previously had two rats that did the same thing. They made squeaky noises, sneezed a lot, had discharge, etc. The noises are not a good thing, they probably have an upper respiratory infection and I also found a disease called mycoplasmosis. It's a serious condition and is contagious. I would definitely get them into a vet. I couldn't afford the usual vet either so I looked online and contacted smaller vets to see if they knew any small run vets that could work with my wages, or set up a payment plan. I would definitely get them in to a vet asap. It's very hard watching an infection progress :(.

      Best of luck.

    • profile image

      michelle 6 years ago

      Hi I just got a baby dumbo rat 3 weeks ago and all was well, I decided to get another rat from a different pet store, the newer one is a little older and it has been having excessive sneezing.... I'm worried something might be wrong.. The youngest one is also sneezing a lot now and both are making little cute squeeking noises but I don't know if that's a good thing or not .. I am very worried and I can't afford to take them to a vet , please help ..

    • profile image

      Brandy 6 years ago

      I got my rat about a month ago. After having her for a few weeks I noticed she was getting really huge around the belly. She's still very young and when I got her she had been with males. I believe she may be pregnant, but now I'm noticing a spot on her underbelly that is losing fur. Is she ripping it out because she's nervous of having a litter so young? I'm starting to worry. She should be having them any day, if not then she might have something else wrong with her.

    • profile image

      Sarah 6 years ago


      Bonnie is exactly like my rat, Sugar. When we first saw her at the pet store, she was perfectly normal. It was only until we brought her home that she started sneezing and wheezing. She seemed fine. She got along well with our other rats. She was calm, but she had her moments of being hyperactive and playful. Her sneezing and wheezing never made the other ones sick. We assumed she had allergies. Every time one of my family members held her, she would lick their hands. Today she is not feeling well. She has labored breathing and fluffy fur( a lot of my rats had this when they died). When I held her, she didn't attempt to climb out of my hands or lick them. It felt like she didn't have much of a spine. She won't eat or drink. She just slowly wanders around the cage trying to find a place to lie down and rest. My family believes her time is almost up.

    • profile image

      samantha 6 years ago

      I just got a baby boy rat about 5 days I have 4 other. Rats that iv bread an raised from babys . But my new rat millow I got from grummerts an seems to. B very thin. He's really lovein he eats a lot an drinkns but he doesn't seem like he's happy. All my rats are happy an very spoiled they've got a huge jungle jim an a ferrette cage. But he does not like being in it so I put him in a tank . What should I do about his weight he shows no signs of anything but stress an is jus very skinny I'm worried he might end up diein on me he's probley gotta be only 6 weeks old for his size can u help me

    • profile image

      anthony 6 years ago

      hello i have had my rat for almotst two and a half years is it normal for them to live that long and he weezes and he has red skin and losing weight

      but i do not understand how it could be a respiritory infection because he is been in a cleen cage all his life always had food and water and he lives in a dust free enviromnet so is it just because he is old that these symotoms are happing or does he neeed to go to the vet because i have no money for the vet

    • profile image

      Iris 6 years ago

      my rat iris has been sneezing and making these weird squeaking noises all the time i have made an appointment for her, but i was wondering if you know if it is possibly respiratory infection?

    Click to Rate This Article