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Common Diseases That Cause Death Of Rats

Rats are usually resilient creatures. So, how long do mice live? Many of them live long and free of severe health problems or the need for veterinarian care.

However, it’s worth mentioning that your pet rat may succumb to serious health issues and the death of rats. Hence, it’s critical to watch for early warning symptoms of disease and respond.

Small sick street rat

Health Concerns In Pet Rats

Indicators Of Poor Health

Your pet rats will often be more active at night than during the day. You should become familiar with their behavior patterns to recognize abnormal behavior. If your rat avoids group rough, exhibits protective hostility toward other rats, this is a cause for concern. If the rat is not eating, showing no interest in rewards, and is not alert or interested in communicating with you, you should be alarmed. 

The coat of your rat should be smooth and silky. Changes in the coat’s condition might be an early symptom of the disease. A ‘starey’ skin characterized by the hair standing on end and not smooth to the touch show a potential issue.

Wheezing, Sneezing, And Labored Breathing

Any breathing difficulties in your rat may state respiratory distress. If left untreated, this can result in irreversible damage to the respiratory system. 

Most pet rats get infected with a bacteria called mycoplasma that lives in their respiratory systems. While the organism is dormant and often harmless, rats are susceptible to mycoplasma infection. 

The infection appears in adolescent rats as protracted episodes of sneezing caused by bacterial illness. This can result in problems and secondary infections such as bronchitis, lung abscesses, and pneumonia. This is why it is critical to get treatment.

In general, sneezing is rarely a reason for anxiety in rats unless it is recurring or chronic. Rats are susceptible to irritation, colds, and dust inhalation. So do not disregard sneezing. 

Eyes Or Red Nasal Discharge

Your rat’s eyes should remain bright, attentive, and discharge-free. The nose should be dry and free of flowing mucus. Although observing a red discharge from your rat’s eyes or nose may be worrisome, do not panic—this is not blood. 

Rat mucous membranes contain a pigment called ‘porphyrin. Observing porphyrin discharge around the eyes or mouth may indicate disease. It can also occur during times of stress. 

Before obtaining veterinarian help, determine whether you can attribute illness to any environmental variables within your control. See a veterinarian if the rat exhibits any other disease symptoms or the discharge persists for more than three days.

Problems With The Skin

Parasites like mites can cause excessive pruritus (itchiness) in rats. This results in sores and scabs on the skin from continual scratching.

Mites in rats and other pets are treated with a veterinary-prescribed insecticide such as Ivermectin. Before therapy, a skin scraping and microscopic analysis of the skin slide may be necessary to confirm the diagnosis of mites. 

Nutritional issues or food allergies can cause scabs on your rat’s skin. Thus it is critical to isolate the source of the problem by eliminating any possible allergens from meals containing colorants, chemical additives, or nuts.


Rats get tumors as they mature. Male rats are more susceptible to this than female rats. Overweight rats and those on a high-fat diet are in the greatest danger. Often benign, the tumors begin as a tiny bump beneath the skin that becomes larger. They are found in the groin or armpit region. 

Unless they become infected, obstruct mobility, or ulcerate, they are often better left alone in aged rats; but surgical intervention may be necessary in some cases.


Overweight rats have a shorter lifespan than their fit counterparts. They are more prone to health issues related to obesity. Your rat’s food should not be fattening, and it should be healthy and active. Give a diet appropriate for its age and activity level. Rats are infamous for their fondness for sweet snacks and unhealthy food. As their owner, it is your responsibility to supervise their nutrition and ensure that they eat and do not receive excessive treats or the wrong type of food.

Fat brown rat

Extreme Heat

Rats regulate their body temperature with the help of their tails and the soles of their paws. When the weather becomes hot, it’s critical to keep your rats safe from heatstroke or fatigue. 

Assure that their cage has adequate air circulation by installing a fan in the room with them. Additionally, you may consider adding a couple of ice cubes to their drink and giving them a little ‘paddling pool’ in the cage to cool off. 

Rats also appreciate frozen goodies such as peas and other frozen veggies.


This serves as a reference for common diseases and symptoms to monitor in your pet rats. It is not meant to replace veterinary expert diagnosis. 

In the case of disease or illness, timely diagnosis and treatment will offer your rats the best chance of a full recovery. Every time you touch your rats, inspect them for any signs of disease or malnutrition and get veterinary assistance if you have any concerns.

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