As with all animals, there are some common health problems that rats may suffer from. If you have any concerns, always go direct to your vet.
Rats require lots of exercise and stimulation and will love to explore so housing them in a large cage is important.
Get into the habit of examining your rats carefully every week. It’s a good idea to weigh them too. Make this a regular thing and you’ll bond better with your pets. And you’ll catch any problems early.
General – check that your rats’ behaviour is normal – inquisitive, active and playful. Loss of weight and loss of appetite are both signs that something is wrong. Gauge how they walk, looking for limping, trembling or signs of weakness. Obvious injuries and wounds should be treated immediately by your vet.
Mouth and nose – the nose should be clean and free from mucus. Check to ensure that your rats’ teeth haven’t grown too long. See whether they’re misaligned or chipped. Also look out for redness and swelling of the gums. Losing weight and loss of appetite is a sign that all is not well.
Eyes – they should be bright, clear and free of discharge. A bulging eye could indicate a tumour or abscess. If there is a bloody discharge from the eyes, this is called Porphyria – not good..
Fur and skin – the coat should be full and shiny. Excessive scratching and bald patches could be a sign of parasites, so check the fur carefully. Fleas and lice are visible to the naked eye but mites may be harder to spot.
Breathing – wheezing, congestion, rattling, laboured breathing and gasping are all signs of respiratory problems or more serious matters, such as heart issues.
A pack of rats is called a 'mischief'.
Rats have glands on the bottom of their feet so they leave a wet trail wherever they walk.
Respiratory ailments – diseases of the respiratory tract are common in rats. Symptoms include snuffling, sneezing, nasal discharge and runny eyes. There are a number of possible causes, so always see your vet.
Dental problems – rats’ teeth grow continuously through their lives, so they need to gnaw to keep them in shape. If they are misaligned or chipped, gnawing won’t be effective and the teeth will become overgrown. This can lead to severe pain and prevent eating.
Parasites (mites, fleas, lice) – you can usually tell when parasites are present when there is itching, hair loss and small bumps on the skin. Flea treatments are widely available, but it’s best to get a vet’s diagnosis first when these symptoms show.
If you have a question, please email us or call us on 0800 413 969. Our dedicated consumer care team are available to answer any questions you may have. If you are concerned about the immediate health of your pet, please seek the advice of your vet as soon as possible.Email us