Q & A

From the July/August 1998 Rat & Mouse Gazette

Could you give me an estimate or range as to how much it may cost to get a male rat neutered?

The price range for rat neuter surgery is quite broad. I have heard from various people that they have paid as little as $25 or as much as $100. Check with your local vet hospitals, but be sure to get a vet who is experienced with this procedure.

Also, be aware that post surgical antibiotics are very necessary after rat neuter surgery. Many vets do not agree with this, but we have seen several rats die from abscesses discovered later that were connected to the neuter surgery. Itís better to be safe than sorry, and paying a little extra for an antibiotic such as Cefa-Drops is well worth it. Itís very important that you insist your vet prescribe antibiotics after the surgery!

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My vet gave my rats injections in the scruff of the neck to treat them for respiratory symptoms. After a little while, I noticed that the fur had fallen out right across his neck and the wound was really bad - weeping and red. The vet gave me some ointment for it and I thought that it would clear it up, but after a week it hadn't done anything.

I went back and the vet doesn't seem too optimistic because he said that the wounds should have healed by now - itís three weeks later and four weeks after having the injections.

Ben's wound is really bad and it looks as if an abscess has formed too, which my vet said was a growth! He obviously doesn't know that rats tend to get tumours with old age, but mine are still babies. He has given me something else to apply but they are actually eye drops which confuses me really!

I am going back for a re-visit on Monday but I am dreading what the vet is going to say. I think he is thinking that they will have to be put to sleep and it is breaking my heart especially since they are still so young and have had no life at all. I am so worried about them and wondered if there is anything that I can do at all?

If it was Baytril (enrofloxacin) that your vet injected, rats, in particular, have a problem with it causing necrosis (the tissue dying) at the injection site. I believe the sores will heal on their own, but I would recommend getting an oral antibiotic such as Amoxicillin or Cefadroxil from your vet to help fight the infection (abscesses).

You may also want to try daily cleanings with Hydrogen Peroxide. That may help to slough dead skin and dry up the weeping sores. The ointment may have actually prolonged or worsened the sores because it would keep the sores wet and may have actually made the rats scratch at them even more. I have also had really good luck using Blu-Kote (or Blue Lotion) on weeping wounds. If you have anything like that available at your local feed store (farm animal type store), you may want to try it. It's very drying.

If it wasn't Baytril that your vet injected, he may have injected something they have had a reaction to, or he might not have gotten the needle all the way under the skin. If you release the drug directly into the skin it will create a really nasty sore. That can happen anywhere on the ratís body, not just on the neck. I don't give shots anywhere but on the neck and I've never had any rats have problems unless the injection was given wrong (I have messed up in the past!).

The vet may have given you eye drops because it contained an antibiotic or anti-inflammatory drug that he wanted you to use topically that wasnít available in an ointment.

Whatever you do, don't let the vet convince you that the rats need to be put to sleep. Try all treatment options, and if you still have problems, contact us again. No animal should be put to sleep without a fighting chance!

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My female rat is going to have a litter in about two weeks. This is her first litter and she is a bit (I think) over a year old. Do you have any advice or health care tips for her before and after the birth. What am I expected to do?

Make sure you feed her plenty of good food during pregnancy and during and after nursing. Her diet should consist of lab blocks, grain mix, some high quality kitten food (like Iams in kibble form) fresh fruits and vegetables, and healthy table scraps. As long as she is getting a good diet you shouldnít have to do anything except clean her cage twice a week, provide nesting material (ripped up clean white paper towels), and give her and the babies love.

However, if this is her first litter and she is over a year old, she could have problems with the birthing process. It's never a good idea to breed a rat for the first time after eight months of age. The risk of losing them during the birthing process goes up quite a bit. Talk with your vet prior to her due date and be prepared to get her into the vet hospital in a hurry if the need arises.

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My mouseís toenails are extremely long and beginning to curl toward the paws. I think this makes it hard to grab things, too. We have a lot of boxes and egg cartons for them so they can scratch, but it hasnít helped. Would it be harmful to cut the nails ourselves?

It is not necessarily dangerous to cut the toenails, but donít try to cut off too much at any one time, or you will injure the mouse and certainly will cause much more of a behavior problem the next time you try it! Cut off too- little, when in doubt, cut just the very tips.

I have also heard that forcing them to climb up a piece of brick to get to their water bottle of to another favorite or necessary spot in the cage helps to keep nails trimmed.

Perhaps other breeders/pet keepers could write in with their solutions to this problem.

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Mouse answer by Roxanne Fitzgerald
Rat answers by Mary Ann Isaksen

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Westminster, CA

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