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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My gentle little sweetiepie Mouse seems to have been steadily slowing down. She and her 3 siblings are 2 years and 3 months old now. I've accepted that I may lose all my babies around 2 yr 6 mo since I haven't had many rats live past that. But her two brothers and her sister all still seem pretty energetic, quick, spry, alert and active, but little Mousey seems so tired. Not all too interested in eating kibbles, but is still pretty ok eating her megacolon food and happy to get Nutrical treats.

She seems more sluggish and a little more clumsy. Less careful in general. Most of the time when I hear a "whump" in the cage, it's Mouse who has fallen off a level or side of the stairs because she just let go before she was able to pull herself all the way up. I've seen her climb up the side of the cage to get to a level, and then gets her upper body onto the level and try to pull herself up, but then cant and just falls.

She's gotten more cuddly and seems to enjoy when I stick my face in the cage next to her and talk to her and give her a lot of pets and she kinda hunkers down and bruxes. Her kisses seem a little sloppy now and often I can feel her teeth dragging on my skin while she's licking me when before she wouldn't do that. She also might be sleeping more but I can't be sure.

Does this sound like a little old lady rat? It doesn't seem like anything is immediately wrong, and it's been slowly progressing. It's not the same kind of slowing down and weaking as our two past boys who were taken down by pituitary tumors. And her mother, my heart-rat, who was PTS a couple months ago probably would have lived to be at least 3, she was so active and bright. Mouse does have a tumor on her lower abdomen that's been slowly growing for about a month, but doesn't seem to be bothering her at all yet. Her megacolon hasn't been great, but nothing that's really scaring me and isn't the worst it's been.

I'm sad my little miss Moose seems to be aging.. but I'm concerned because her siblings don't seem to be getting old yet. Do some rats age faster than their siblings?
 

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In my experience, yes, some do. My oldest boy lived to be a little over 3 years old, and was probably the most active senior rat I had ever seen. He slowed down around near his 3rd birthday but was still pretty full of life.

His sons (from an oops litter) seemed to be the same at first, but eventually Gilbert started aging a bit sooner than his brother (around 2 1/2 years, I believe). It didn't sound like anything you described with Mouse, but he was a tad sluggish.

Matthieu, the aforementioned oldest rat, got a bit clumsy around 2 3/4 years of age. He wobbled a little bit but that was about it.

In Mouse's case, it sounds like it could also be her health taking an extra toll one her? Maybe? I'm not expert, though, so I could definitely be wrong.

Either way, I hope she gets the hang of this old age thing and perks up a bit!
 

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Yes... some rats do age faster than others... Fuzzy Rat and Max were both from the same commercial rat farm. They were bred for meat rats and as such grew incredibly fast and got large and plump and at about a year old they began to age... they just slowed down... With Fuzzy Rat we kept her engaged and involved, taking her out in the dead of winter and doing meet and greets with strangers, still she didn't swim in the lake the second summer or climb tall trees anymore... by the time she was about two she started having senior moments and her eyes would glaze over and fog up, but she would snap back to herself when things got exciting enough... Both Max and Fuzzy Rat got multiple tumors, once the tumors started they seemed to sap all of the girls energy.

So yes, it can be age or it might be the tumor, but some rats do seem to age faster than others. Cloud is from another breeder and she is a healthy but plump year and a half old, she's still got pretty good balance and strength, but she spends most of her time napping and if she wants to get somewhere she will ask to be picked up and taken there... A couple of weeks ago I saw her climb the radiator to get a cookie someone left on the dishwasher, but if there isn't a substantial food reward involved she isn't likely to move much more than an average box turtle. Cloud is Misty's great Aunt and she looks and acts like one. So far we've never had a rat that's spry and agile at two years old, so I can't comment about that age...

As to how long rats live, it does seem to be predetermined by their genes. Normal rats tend to make it to about 27 months unless they get tumors first, rats with a defective gene can live over 4 and up to 6 years, but those are very rare rats.

Keeping an older rat active and engaged will extend their life for a few months, maybe more, maybe less. But old age for a girl rat can be a wonderful time. They can finally slow down and enjoy sharing affection with their human and rat friends without their feet taking off under them and dragging them in six directions at once. I always enjoy our senior girls, but it's a guilty pleasure, I know their end is drawing near and that makes me sad as much as the tender and peaceful moments we share brings me joy...

So just cherish the time you have left.
 

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Yes. The same with all animals and even people. We all age differently and show our age differently.

I am reminded of my two grandmothers. One was about 10 years old then the other. The older one took good care of herself and was in great shape and seemed probably 20 years younger then she was! My other grandmother smoke, took horrible care of herself had loads of health problems and seemed probably 40 years older then she was!

Depending on their genetics, health, diet and how they lived they will be very very different experiences into old age.

I would say in Mouse's case it is definitely her health playing a role. With megacolon and a tumor, that is really hard on the body.

I am sorry :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Spry might have been a gernerous term, they all are a little slower than they were a year ago of course though haha. The fat brother has always been the largest and overweight and not quite as active, but still gets excited and popcorns and loves arguing with his brother. Charlie has megacolon too but that doesn't slow him down much. He's always been very bright eyed and popcorns the most out of everyone and gets very excited and loves harassing his brother and starting arguments and basically being an annoying little butt. And the sister Aoife is still very silly and quirky and climbs upside down on the top of the cage and loves to climb and explore and run in her wheel. Little Mouse just seems so different and so much older compared to them. She still is reactive and asks to come out and lover her free range time, but just.. slower and calmer and seems tired.

thanks for sharing your experiences guys. I'm sad she's getting older before her siblings. Especially since they are all from the same litter and her brother with megacolon doesn't seem to be as effected if that's a contributing factor to her "aging" here. Her tumor is maybe about the size of a hardboiled egg yolk? Hopefully it stays slow growing.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Found another lump on Mouse last night. Feels about same size as a firm rat poop and is a little lumpy. It's very firm and irregular shaped, and right near in her armpit. I have to assume it's probably cancerous. She's also been a lot more porphyrin-y lately around her eyes and nose and looks almost bloody and kinda awful. She has no wheezing or sneezing and when I rat phone her, she sounds fine. I guess it's just her health going down or possibly cancer taking hold. My poor little girl, she's such a sweet gentle rat. Going to try more holisitic treatments for rat tumors/cancer and hope that helps a little since really there's nothing else I can do to help.

Just thought I'd throw in that update. I guess it may be her tumors that are causing her to age more rapidly after all.
 
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