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Hi everyone. I'm a newly registered user, so sorry for not initially introducing myself before I disclose my dilemma.

I am a new pet rat owner, however I have worked with rats in the past. Just recently, I purchased 2 baby rats from a pet shop. Unfortunetly, being naive, I purchased from a "reptile feed" shop. My reasons behind this decision stemmed from this pet shop owner's socialization and temperment breeding of his rats. I wanted a calm rat, and in the end I did get two very sweet rats.

However, unbenounced to me, one of the babys had mycoplasmosis. I did not recognize the symptoms until she began acting very lethargic and had a pronounced secretion of poryphorin concentrated on her snout. Immediately I took her to the vet and she was prescribed an antibiotic. Only after 2 days, she is responding wonderfully!!

Now, my dilemma origionates in my little rat's well being. Now that she is better, she is more active (which is wonderful!). However, she has a severe head tilt, to the point where she is not able to "right" herself and often falls over. (The vet did warn me about this.) While I am happy she is breathing easier, it breaks my heart to see her struggle along. She does fall over often, and being the explorer and friendly rat she is, is very persitant to get where she wants, despite the hardship it may cause her.

But, is this being humane? Is this suffering I am inflicting on my rat? I do not want her to suffer, and if that means I should put her down I will do it. I don't want to keep her around for solely my own benefit. While she is much healthier when it comes to the mycoplasma, I wonder if her quality of life has gotten worse. What is right for her?

She can eat, but not what she used to. Often I need to hand feed her small pieces of her food. I feel she is frustrated and if she is having to deal with this huge burden to live, I do not want her to suffer with it.

What would you experienced rat owners do? I am aware the mycoplasma may come back. Any advice on what you think is in her best interest would be appreciated! Thank you so much!
 

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I'm not an expert, but I would say wait until she has finished the antibiotics to see if the head tilting stops, too. In the meantime, keep a very close eye on her and help her eat and drink if necessary. Is it possible to put her in a one story cage (if she isn't already) while she is recovering, so she can't fall from any great heights? And clean clean clean! Thoroughly scrub everything regularly.

Did the vet give you any idea if the tilting would be a permanent thing or a side affect from the mycoplasmosis? If s/he didn't go into detail, maybe give him/her a call and ask them to be a bit more specific?
 

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In actuality all rats are born with mycoplasmosis in their system. Normally in a healthy young rat it isn't to much of an issue but things like irritants (bad bedding), stress, or other illness can cause the disease to flare up. Antibiotics to knock out any secondary infections can help.

http://ratguide.com/health/bacteria/mycoplasma_mycoplasmosis.php



The head tilt can be two things: A tumor in the brain, or the more likely cause being an inner ear infection (could possibly be linked to the myco). If caught early and cleared up with antibiotics, head tilt resulting from an ear infection often goes away completely. Sometimes however there is permanent damage and the head tilt will never fully go away.

http://ratguide.com/health/auricle_ear/otitis_media_otitis_interna_labyrinthitis.php
 

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head tilts can occur from myco but it doesn't need to be the end of the world. call your vet and tell her what's happened and you're likely to be prescribed some steriods to help against the ear infection and perhaps a stronger antibiotic (though that depends on the serverity and what she is currently on).in the meantime, do as DonnaK says and watch her closely, make sure she's getting lots of food and water (perhaps supplement with a bit of baby food, i know the fruits are always a big hit, to make sure she's getting enough fluids as well.adn i think steading herself with the spoon your holding would make eating easier). make sure the cage is safe and, well pretty much what DonnaK said.

as foir knowing when to let go, personally i wait for my rats to tell me. they'll lose interest in things they once loved and won't respond to the medications anymore. its a bit harder to tell if the rat has cancer as you don't have the response to drugs as a deciding factor and every rat is different. i had one rat that probably would have kept going had a i let her but the cancer was too strong and i could tell she was in pain the way she was acting. the other rat i had that had cancer i had put down as soon as i found out. she was still fat but she was of the temperment that any little change made her cranky and the cancer diagnosis explained her crabby demenor too perfectly. thankfully your rat doesn't have cancer though so you can judge when its time by her temperment and reaction to drugs.

as a side note though, what did you name your rats?
 

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Thanks for all of your replies. =) My baby rat is actually doing much better now that we have passed day 5 of antibiotics. Her head tilt is not as severe as it once was, but it is still present. She can walk in a straight line at least, but still has trouble climbing or keeping her balance while standing on her back legs. She still sneezes more often than not, but at this stage I figure that is a good sign as at least now she has the energy to sneeze (whereas before she would simply sit in my hand or in her hut as still as could be -- not a good sign!). She is eating more than before, and also is able to feed herself.

I'm quite happy with her progress and she does not seem to distrubed by her head tilt. I imagine it can only get better provided she continues her treatment. She can now balance on her food bowl while she eats, where even just a couple of days ago doing so was near impossible for her.

The names I've chosen for my rats are a little silly, but now that I have taught them to respond to those names, I guess they must stay! The little rat who is sick is named PsyRat (as in psychology-rat), not that she was ever a lab rat, it just seemed kind of cute! The other one I named ChiRat (which is another psychology related type-o' name), but this one simply responds to "rat". lol. They are quite docile and friendly! I know my names are quite silly, but they were the first things that came to mind which I considered "unique."

=)
 

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its good to hear that she's improving. and i like the names. very cute!
 

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It really does sound like your girl has an inner ear infection rather than a myco flareup.
If the tilt doesn't go away completely you may be the proud owner of a tilty :)

How long and what meds did your vet give you to give her? Inner ear infections need very aggressive treatment and a short course of abs could just make the bacteria more resistant the next time.

All rats have myco but most of our rat's fight off the myco, but eventually the immune system is weakened and they need our help with abs.
 

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I agree, it sounds like your girl has an ear infection and the pressure is affecting her ability to stay upright. It is very important to make sure that she gets her meds every day and for the duration of the time the vet prescribed. It may be tempting to stop when she looks better, but the bacteria will just come back and be antibiotic resistant the second time around.
 
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