With our rats having such short lifespan they can have a few health issues to be on the look out for:
Does your rat have red stuff on his nose, or around his eyes? This is called porphyrin. Porphyrin is a red mucous that is produced by a gland behind the eye (the Harderian Gland) which dries the color of blood. It's often mistaken for dried blood by people unfamiliar with rats. Porphyrin staining is often associated with mycoplasma infections because the infection puts stress on the rat, and stress will cause the discharge of porphyrin from the eyes and nose. This doesn't always occur when a rat is suffering from an infection. If you have a really laid-back rat, he may not get stressed out!.
If your rat is sneezing more than usual, listen closely to his breathing. If the nasal passages and chest sound clear, keep a very close watch on him, but it shouldn't be necessary to start treatment unless he starts acting more tired than usual, or stops eating or drinking.
If there is a gurgling, congested sound from the chest, you have a sick rat. Get him to a vet immediately! Rats succumb to these infections with amazing swiftness. A rat with no symptoms one day can have full blown pneumonia the next. This is partially because of their high metabolic rate, and because there is often a secondary infection caused by a different bacteria or virus.
A lot of times my rats can have "loud breathing" around a season change or big weather change i.e.; Pressure here is what I do if I start to hear anyone have any sort of sneezing, this is for very mild symptom and I treat everyone to this snack:
Grapefruit seed Extract: 1drop per ounce water (in water bottle)
Sprig of Oregano in water bottle
*I use wide top water bottles for all this stuff not the norma glass ones but I will remove the glass bottle, always make sure your rat is drinking something*
I will sometimes add Apple cider Vinegar as well but my rats HATE it so I try not to offer that when they need this but they do get it once a month.
Oatmeal (quick cook is great)
Baby food Banana or smashed banana
Raw Honey (make sure its REAL honey)
Drop Garlic oil (sometimes I leave this out)
Serve warm as often as you like. The cinnamon acts as a natural antibacterial and sweetener.
Turmeric so many awesome things but is a great natural pain anti depressant, anti inflammatory and steroid!
Ginger is an antibiotic, and yummy.
-Garlic also has many helpful properties - but can sometimes be to much.
-Turmeric can also give off some very smelly poo if given too much.
**Hot steamy shower can help break up "small" sniffles never is this a fix for seeing a Vet as these lil guys can go from feeling ill to death VERY fast.** Let your rat play in the bathroom for about 20mins while a hot shower is running, sometimes I will apply vix vaporub to the shower wall to allow the steam vap.
Along with respiratory infections, tumors are one of the most common health problems and causes of death in rats, especially in females. There are two main types of tumors, benign and malignant. Benign tumors are almost always encapsulated in a membrane and separate from nearby tissues. Although they can grow as fast as malignant tumors, they don’t usually cause as much damage and they don’t metastasize (spread to other parts of the body). Benign tumors can cause death by pressing on vital organs, bleeding internally, or by growing so large that the rat has difficulty moving around and can’t eat enough to support both the tumor and normal body functions. Benign tumors can often be removed depending on their location.
In contrast, malignant tumors, also called cancer, usually invade and damage nearby tissues. They sometimes also metastasize (rarely in rats). Death can be caused by failure of damaged organs or mechanical interference with normal functions, such as eating. The symptoms of cancer can include a skin ulcer, infected lump, or abscess that won’t heal, an ulcerated or bleeding tumor, a distended abdomen, weight loss, and lethargy.
In some cases, cancer involves the internal organs, so symptoms often aren’t seen until the disease is well advanced and euthanasia is the only alternative. This is why it’s important to give your rats a weekly exam. Many benign tumors can be removed, depending on the location, and surgery for some types of cancer can give a rat many more months of quality life. Some tumors can be temporarily shrunk with prednisone. More info
Tamorefin also is an expensive treatment used for tumor prescribed but a Veterinarian I have no experience with this my self.
I have made a senior supplement using all items known for causing a tumor to shrink or keep them away located HERE
My top picks would have to be:
Shark Cartridge 360mg per day
Turmeric (curcumin) 150mg per day
CBD oil has become top picks for helping to shrink or keep a tumor small as long as possible and I love this stuff and always have it in my rats med kit for many uses.
I always give senior supplement with goji berries, q10 in a high fat soy based treat to lick up. For this treatment to work well it needs to be given in small amounts several times a day.
Its hopeful you will never have to face any troubles with your lil-furry one but to have the knowledge can help you, help them lead a long (3years+) lifespan free of any major issues.