Sick baby rat :( :(

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by Mattsmom277, Aug 24, 2009.

  1. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    My easy child (10 years old) worked hard and saved and saved her earnings, to purchase a pet rat she desperatly wanted. She was short but had worked for so long and so hard without dipping into her money that I gave her the money and she owes me chores etc to pay back. The rat itself was only $8.99 at a pet shop but we needed the cage, water bottle, bedding, food, treats, toys etc. It cost total of $120.00

    She has named him Linus. He's been here for only a bit more than a week. She's been so good at caring for him and helping he acclimate and become happy to be touched. He pokes his wee nose between bars of the cage to "kiss" my difficult child's cat. It's too cute!!

    So he's only about 11-12 weeks old. Cute as a button. I wake up this morning and he's ROLLING around like a pig in mud, in his bedding on his cage floor. Then he's spinning in circles. At first we thought "how cute", until it didn't end. He's laying low but when he's up, he's still rolling and spinning in circles. He was 100% normal when I went to bed last night :(

    I google'd to find out what causes this and read it is likely a inner ear infection. I read that untreated, the infection spreads to the brain and the rat dies. Treatment is expensive, 30 days antibiotics, steroids for a week, and of course the vet fee for the appointment. I simply do NOT have that kind of money for her wee pet. I hope it doesn't sound mean. I hate any creature suffering or unwell. If this were a dog or cat I'd pay it. But a rats lifespan isn't long and apparently the treatment doesn't always work. I can't spend that kind of money on a "maybe it will help, but high chance it will die anyhow". I scoured to see if there was a home method to treat this, but I've read that there isn't.

    I've seen other pet rat threads through the years, so thought I'd reach out to you all and see if anybody has any insight.

    :( :( Linus is soooo adorable. Super friendly and highly intelligent. S/O spent an entire day building a super cool maze for him, and the little bugger figured it out in all of under 1-2 minutes. I like the little vermin. :( :(
  2. GoingNorth

    GoingNorth Crazy Cat Lady

    Star might be able to help with this as I think she has a lot of experience with pet rats. I like them, but am horribly allergic to them.

    Marg, from her uni years, might also be able to provide some input.
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I don't think I can help much. I remember we had rabbits who had this, they would hold teir heads lopsided, as if rotated to a varying degree (like a toy that had its head put on at the wrong angle). I kept trying to reach and twist their head back to the correct angle, but the rabbit would just turn its head and end up looking off to one side, or upsdide down again. And of course the bunny balance was off as well.

    Lobger-term, some of these rabbits did seem to slowly get better on their own. We didn't keep them for long, ost of them, so I can't say for sure about the problem in general.

    I didn't see the problem in rats, and we had A LOT of rats. When I stop to think about it, I handled about 100,000 rats over the years, personally.

    All I can suggest, if you're determined that a vet visit is just out of the question due to cost - watch him, see if he's suffering in any way. Then try dosing him with garlic. It is safe for rats and it could act like a natural antibiotic. You could either dose the water (he might not like the taste) or perhaps better, find a way to give him some to eat. A capsule of garlic oil is about the right dose, according to info I found. You could also try chopping a clove of garlic up with something else he likes and see if he will eat it.

    Both these sitges are very helpful. But the advice for the symptoms you describe, is vet treatment. Sorry.

    The garlic won't hurt it, could help as a general diet supplement to keep him healthy. But it may not be enough with an acute infection.

    Whatever happens, if it comes to the worst and he dies or has to be put down, a replacement rat won't cost as much because you already have all the equipment.

    We keep budgies, we've lost two over the last few years but our current dominant bird is doing well and is such a joy - this morning he flew into my bathroom after me and while I changed the water in his big bathing bowl, he flew down to watch me scrub it out and rinse off the pebbles underneath. He couldn't wait to hop in and have a bath - he was climbing all over me to get into the water!

    Animals/birds make wonderful pets.

  4. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not


    Within that short a timeframe...I think you are within reason to return him to the shop for either a refund, a new rat, or reimbursement for veterinary care.

    When I was a child, I had a pet hamster that died within a week of bringing him home. Went back to the petstore and received another hamster--who also died within a few days. Finally, my dad went to that store for his money back and purchased a healthy animal at a different shop. It was sad, but I got over it...and I LOVED my new, very healthy, hamster.

    I think you need to get to that pet shop...

  5. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Thank you both.

    I am planning to call the manager of the pet shop, just in case it is something catchy (never know???) since the rat was among many when we purchased him. I'm not too worried about the cost of a new pet. The pricey part was the accessories. I do plan to get a new baby rat if this one passes, or if we have to put him down :(.

    I couldn't sleep last night. How can that be? It's a rat right?? ;)

    So about 5a.m. I decided to call the vets office today, which I'm going to do this afternoon. I'm hoping that somehow I can tie in a free consult if I take difficult child's cat in for his update shots. I don't image the antibiotics would be super pricey. I'll find out from the receptionist. Apparently to check for ear infection is a matter of a quick peek into the ears, and prescribe the medication. I'm hoping!

    Got up in the night to make tea since I couldn't sleep, and he was rolling. And rolling. And rolling. I don't like the idea of him feeling so dizzy and unable to function properly. It simply isn't fair to the poor critter.
  6. Star*

    Star* call 911


    IF SO THROW THEM OUT IMMEDIATELY? Use CARE FREE OR some non-smelling litter like Natures own - without smell. Theres a wheat based litter also that you can use for the litter boxes but they like to eat it -:sick:

    THEY CAN BECOME VIOLENTLY ILL from THE URISHOL OIL -and dance like it's 1999 from the STRONG smell of PINE....1st...

    2nd....There is a possibility (sorry to say) that this behavior is from being dropped and someone is not admitting it. If the head is down on the ground and the body is going around in circles? I would suspect sprained back or damaged back/spine. I've seen it a lot when breeders for snakes handle multiple rats and drop them.

    I would also call my veterinarian and say "Look, I'm poor, I have a childs rat - what could I give this rat that would help? I think there would be some liquid amoxicillin that could be admistered with an eyedropper Could you just sell me smidge for this?" If not then ask if you could go to the pet store and buy some tetracycline (for aquariums) and how much you could dilute and put in water and give in an eye dropper. The dosage would be ridiculously hard to manage, but may be a thought. And possibly put a heating pad in for some comfort on the lowest setting wrapped in a towel.

    I absolutely adored my rats. I miss them terribly and the ONLY thing that keeps me from getting another two (you should have two of the same sex because they are highly social and do better in pairs) is they only last around two years and their deaths are hard, and there are no rat hospice -watching them fade is really hard. (choked up) -sorry. And you get really amazed at how intelligent they are and how personable they actually are.

    Email me if things get worse or I can be of further help.

    Also - FROZEN PEAS - OMG - it's like Manna from heaven....when he's better. But in all seriousness - before you are left with a debilitated pet with lots of issues - I would check what I've said above and if it's not the bedding or back damage before I invested a $$ I'd return the little guy, or and have him humanely euthanized. It's about $12.00 at the vets. - A pet shop is NOT going to humanely euthanize him. They'll exchange him - for sure.

    Good luck
  7. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Thanks Star. I called the vets office. Things don't bode well :(
    Since rats lose weight so quickly, they can pass quickly too. I have an appointment for tomorrow morning but I don't know if the little guy will make it. He's worse today. Yesterday even with the spinning he could attempt his ramp to his food dish. He would find a way to get to his carrot I put in there and then stand up properly to hold it to eat. Today, he's laying underneath his water bottle but each time he tries to stand he simply goes into a roll. We did give him some carrot and celery as the vets office said the high water content is helpful. I am shortly going to wrap him in a towel and have S/O hold him while I try to give him water with a dropper. The vets office did say that some rats rebound nicely from ear infection if treated quickly, however they also said its likely he is too far gone as rats hide illness until they simply no longer can. Apparently ear infections can spread rapidly to the brain. :(
    I'm sad :(. easy child is crying, her face is a big splotch of hives. She worked so hard to save for her pet and she picked the one she fell in love with right off the bat. I'm trying to explain to her that with rats, they are awesome pets, but we have to understand that they are prone to illness that other animals may be treated more easily for. I've told her if we can't save the little bugger, that we'll indeed find another one for her as soon as she is ready. She is trying to be stoic but is failing horribly :(

    Oh, as for bedding, we use Yesterday's News so I'm not worried about the bedding. Poor thing is just sick :(
  8. Star*

    Star* call 911

    I was hoping the vet would be kind and give you some Cipro - :(

    I asked around and there is an oral antibiotic used by rat rescues called Baytril use .03 cc 2x a day that I'm told will cure almost any stage ear infection. You "may" get it at a feed store?? Not sure.

    I hope the trip tomorrow isn't for euthenasia, but for some antibiotics. Tonight you can try to give some diluted Gatorade (forced if necessary) and I know this sounds a little weird but mix 1 tsp of salt in a pint of water and tear a cotton ball apart then roll 1/2 of it into a point like a Qtip and dip in the home made mix. Clean out the little ears with that. The "veep" noises are only mild discomfort - not pain.

    HIGHLY recommend PAPPOOSE with a towel - he may not like it. Okay he WILL NOT LIKE THIS. But it may get some of the infection garbage out of his ears.

    And celery and carrots to try to chew when your head hurts may not happen but frozen peas when thawed have lots of water in them and they are soft - ;)

    I'm so sorry for your little creature. Sending up prayers.
  9. Star*

    Star* call 911

    One thing I did think of too -

    He's loosing weight because he does not feel well.....and won't eat. He won't eat because his head hurts. He needs soft things to eat tonight so lets see.....I'm trying to remember things I could get Albert the Great to eat even when he was failing....

    Pound cake soaked in milk....or cream or 1/2 & 1/2
    Air popped cheetos....not cheetos - but the air popped ones....(we called it rat-crack)
    Canned dog food - rats are omnivores - although don't try Tuna - :sick: I don't recommend this all the time - actually none of the time but if he'll eat anything right now? Let him have it.

    Pasta noodles. (this is how my 2nd girl rat got her name - Noodles) Cooked or uncooked - OMG she was a nut for them but for him - cooked.

    Anything soft - bread, muffins....bits of apple, raisins, almost anything you can think of.

    Right now it's not QUALITY - it's Quantity.
  10. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Thanks Star (and Marg!). S/O, the one who said when easy child picked the rat out, that he'd not be cleaning the cage nor touching the "vermin" ;) has totally taken to the little bugger. He's so hooked on saving this little guy. He made some of the garlic concoction, picked Linus up in one of easy child's soft tshirts and cradled him in his arm against his chest. Linus was laying more or less on his side and S/O used a straw, held the end to make suction and Linus loved the water/garlic. We headed to the pharmacy and got the smallest medicine dropper so we can measure how much liquid he is getting.
    S/O again gave him another drink when we got back and Linus drank and I swear he was grateful as all getout. We then put him in his cage on his side with the tshirt for warmth and delivered some pieces of food to him and he's happy to eat, although he's eating on his side. He started doing the roll again until S/O picked him up and kind of gently mashed him to his chest in the tshirt and stroked him gently and he finally stopped rolling and kind of froze in the one spot. I'm guessing the vertigo is the biggest problem.
    We've got some peas thawing from the freezer. He was happy to have carrots earlier. I'm glad he's not suffering to where it hurts him to eat. He seems to want food every time we put it right next to his mouth.
    We are eating dinner shortly, and then we are going to make the salt/water mix and swab out his ears. We did get a good look at them earlier and can see nothing by the naked eye. No oozing or obvious red color or inflamation but without a way to see in the canal, who knows how bad it is.
    I have spoken with the vet and Baysil seems to be the standard, along with a steroid shot every day for several days. Total with vet visit fee and medications will be about $120 and then the daily shot fees. We are going to try the home method for a day or two, well as long as he doesn't seem worse and will drink and eat with our help. But if no improvement or he worsens, I plan to bite the bullet and pay the vet cost. We've all fallen for the poor bugger.

    I'll keep ya'll posted from Hospital o Rat!!!
  11. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Yay! Hope is holding. Somehow,although he tends to roll quite a lot and his head is WAY tilted, he is moving about a bit better. He was going through his play tube and he managed to navigate to his favorite spot in the cage whereas earlier today he simply rolled until he hit a wall and then lay against that corner or rolled on the spot in that corner. This is a good thing!!! Progress (knock on wood).
    He's eating and drinking like a champ. He for the first time today went to his "nest" spot where he stashes food and ate without us having to deliver it to him.
    He also had no problem eating mushed up pure garlic. Never imagined he'd like that, but he did.

    Go Linus Go!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  12. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    Try cooking the carrot or grating it and mix grated carrot with crushed garlic. It should be easier to eat. And if he will take it, try hand-feeding it to him, maybe use the wide end of a toothpick to hold it for him.

    I've had to euthanase rats. I've also had to anaesthetise them for surgery and nurse them on recovery. I firmly agree - make sure the job is done with kindness. We had strict rules to follow, to be as humane as possible (in all aspects, including long-term care as well as euthanasia). Our animal house attendant had a pet rat that used to wander around her desk and clamber all over her while she was working. He was not the usual rat!

  13. Star*

    Star* call 911

    Well Dr. Marg - I concur.....Garlic and salt Rx....very good!

    Glad to hear Linus is seeing some improvements. YOu do know of course Linus needs a Charlie Brown.

    Oh and as far as VERMIN and Men? When DF moved in with us Dude found a nest of baby rats and BROUGHT THEM WITH US. UGH. So we took care of them and fed them ROUND THE CLOCK. When they were big enough to be on their own and started crawling around - they climbed out of the box. I guess I should have known better than to use DF's HEATING PAD...when he found out he told me to THROW IT AWAY, and picked one of the babies up by his tail....squeeling and veeping....and said "IS THIS YOURS....then BLECH. and looking down said "OMG is that MY heating pad? Just THROW IT AWAY....and BLECH again."

    When Mannie and Albert, Jwi and Noodles lived with us - each one was given love, scritchies, attention and held DF. When Albert died DF was pretty quiet about the entire thing. Mannie was his favorite. Whoda thunk. So yeah - they get to ya. Even the hardest, toughest guy. lol.

  14. Mattsmom277

    Mattsmom277 Active Member

    Linus seems to be happily sleeping today.

    S/O was up in the night being the Home Vet. Spent a good hour nurturing the Vermin until he fell asleep in his hand cuddled to S/O's chest.

    Linus seems to LOVE the garlic pureed, straight lol.

    He's eating anything and everything, which is a good sign.

    I love all the macho men who don't want to touch a rat, yet then are wonderful caretakers HAHA! :) :) :)

    I have to say, waking at 2a.m. to an empty bed and finding a grown manly man with a little bundle of rat fur cuddled to his chest, giving fluids through a wee tiny medicine dropper and smiling like he is Saving The World is just the best way to wake up in the middle of the night!