Tuesday, 23 April 2024


6 May 2021

Diseases in rats are extremely rare, but when they do occur, they are usually linked to poor feeding or neglect of hygiene. Careful observation of your rat can help you to recognise and treat it quickly.


Contrary to appearances, it is not always easy to immediately notice that something is wrong with the rat. This is because there are three stages of disease: latent, chronic and acute. The latter is difficult to miss, but the first two cases are not so easy to recognize. The basic symptoms that should worry any rat keeper are:

  • weight loss of the pet;
  • a much smaller or absent appetite;
  • bad smelling coat;
  • problems with coat: dull color, tousled, balding, thinning;
  • blurred vision;
  • lack of desire to play, dullness;
  • any change in the skin such as lichen, eczema or redness;
  • trouble having a bowel movement or diarrhea;
  • leaking from the genital tract, ear or nose;
  • a disturbing change in the genital area;
  • trouble breathing and a murmur in the chest area;
  • excessive licking, biting and scratching;
  • difficulty in moving around;
  • problem with gums and teeth;
  • unnatural behaviour: curling up in a ball, muscle tension, clenching of paws;
  • squeaking even when lightly pressed;
  • repeated tilting of the head;
  • inability to hold urine.

Each of these symptoms should worry the owner. The best solution is then to go to a vet, which specializes in treating rodents and share with him your concerns. When the symptoms are not severe you can try to cure your pet at home. In case, however, when after two days there will be no improvement, you need to report quickly to a professional.

a sick pet rat


Factors that cause disease conditions in rats are several, and they are most often caused by parasites such as: pinworm, flea, mite, roundworm or tapeworm. Infection occurs when a tapeworm egg enters the animal's body. The place where the parasite nests is the bile ducts, small intestine or, when it is in the form of larvae, the mesentery or liver. Among the nematodes, the main one to watch out for is Trichinella ileus. It not only causes great pain, but also attacks the muscles and internal organs so that the rat begins to have problems with the intestines, movement and later even eating.


A very dangerous parasite for the rat is scabies causing extreme itching, scaling of the skin, loss of hair and loss of vitality.

Fungi can infect the skin and internal organs. While the infected skin peels, it is difficult to see the condition in the internal organs. This is because it does not produce any characteristic symptoms.

The viruses can lead the rat to acute diarrhoea and enzootic pneumonia. The former is most commonly contracted by young animals 10 to 13 days old. The stool is loose and yellowish, and the body of the rat is sometimes weakened. Sometimes it can unfortunately lead to the death of the animal. For the second disease there is no effective antidote. Sometimes it runs without symptoms and leads to the imminent death of the rat. It spreads very easily and when it takes place among kennels every member of the kennel should be put to sleep and everything that they had contact with should be sterilized.

Bacteria most often lead rats to infectious pneumonia. The most susceptible to it are individuals whose immunity is low, for example when they have a cold. Symptoms cannot be overlooked. Rat starts coughing, breathing hard, has a high temperature, does not want to eat, has leaks from the nose, mousy coat and falls into apathy. Then you should go with him to the vet as soon as possible. You should also watch out for a disease called colibacteriosis. It also attacks mainly with weak immunity. Its symptoms are diarrhea, losing weight, ugly coat and lack of appetite. Sometimes it goes away on its own, sometimes it needs treatment.

Tuberculosis should not be underestimated. It can attack the intestines or lungs and slowly finishes the rat's body. Pseudotuberculosis is also common and can even lead to the death of the animal, because the intense diarrhea very emaciates them.


When you notice any changes in behavior or appearance of the pet should immediately start treating him. Sometimes it happens that you can not immediately advise the vet. You can then try to treat the animal with home remedies. There is no denying, however, that a vet is the best option. Even if there is nothing serious going on, he will tell you how to take care of the animal properly and look after it at home. It is best to isolate the rat for a while, so that it does not infect anyone in the environment.

During the illness, it is best to provide the rat with peace and quiet. It must also have access to clean water and food. When it has diarrhea you should change the bedding as often as possible. These animals are very robust and usually cope with the disease on their own, and a minimum effort on the part of the owner can help them recover faster.