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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I just got back from work to see both my ducks and dolls freaking out. With a most unpleasent flashback, I opened the cage... and in a repeat of just a few months ago, I find little Blood dead.Just yesterday he was running around, skirmishing with Overlord and Skullgrin. Then with no explanation, he is no more.I've for the most part had Dumbos or Fancy rats so my knowledge of Dwarves is limited, so fellow enthusiasts, let me ask -- is spontaneous heart failure common in dwarves? It is the second rat I have to bury this year and I am quite confused and enraged.And before anyone asks -- all remaining 7 are spayed/neutered.
 

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About the only common knowledge about dwarfs is that they don't usually get mammary tumors, but I haven't read anything on what they commonly die of, or at what age... I suppose that if rats didn't get anything else they would all eventually die of heart failure. Which begs the question.... How old was Blood?

Of morbid concern... fancy rats are all pretty inbred to start with and dwarfs even more so, chances are that rats from the same strain, same breeder or same litter will tend to die the same way and at about the same age... This wouldn't be a hard and fast rule, but a matter of higher probability. So again that begs the question... were the rats that died of heart failure related?
 

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I'm really interested in this as well, one of my girls just passed very suddenly. She was a little off one night, not much of an issue she just didn't seem quite right, ext morning she was fine, reaching up for food and to have her tummy scratched, few hours later she's dead. I got her at a petstore but she was always quite small, maybe 3/4 size of a normal rat and a dumbo. The other 2 girls are perfectly fine and the only thing I could possibly think of would be an underlying genetic problem related to her size (she was only 1 1/2 years old)
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I strongly doubt Jezebel and Blood were related. Jez and Crimson came from a pet shelter, and my four ducks I got through a friend which had an accidental litter, then got a second cage and decided to keep all of them. Jezebel was about eight-ish months when I got her, and passed away a few months later, so she was a little over a year. Overlord, Blood, Skullgrin and Submarauder are all nearly a year old now, so Blood was about 11 months.The remaining trio are all A-1 health-wise, and so are my dolls. My guess is that it could be a genetic issue, which kind of makes me worry if it won't happen to the trio, although Blood was the only dwarf of the litter. I'm having a chat with my vet tomorrow. The only thing I can do is take good care of my ducks and dolls, and hope for the best.It was REALLY hard going through exactly the same experience I did a few months ago.
 

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Without a necropsy we're never going to know what actually killed any rat on any given day some thousand people drop dead of heart attacks, what would you call it if they all happened to be attending the same soccer game? Well, mostly bad luck if you happened to be one of them, but as statistically unlikely as it would be... it's within the realm of possibility... But aside from random bad luck there might be some other cause.

I think I'd start at the basics, a vet visit, a check on anything that may be toxic to rats that they can get to and a thorough ground up checklist to see if you might be doing something wrong...

Some time ago, I was told about a major die off in a commercial rat breeding operation... we're talking about at least hundreds of rats dying... by a former employee at the facility... Just for curiosity I went through the facility's set up and design, when I got to the question about the HVAC system, it turns out the brand new metal building didn't have any air conditioning and the employee told me the dye off was in summer... the cause was simple... it got too hot and the rats, especially higher up died of heat stroke or the rat equivalent. I'm not suggesting heat was your issue, but when things go wrong it's best to go back to basics... go through your set up, your food things your rats come into contact with etc...

Hopefully everything checks out and the deaths were a statistical fluke, but it's never a bad idea to rule out something else.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Their setup is in the spare room of my flat, and I keep the door open. Temperature is usually around 20 celsius, though during the summer heatstrokes I keep a fan running on the lowest settings to keep some measure of freshness. I also put an icepak in a towel on the upper level so they can chill down if need be. Food-wise all of them get the Suebee mix, some nutrient blocks (extrusions), plenty of fresh fruit and veg, a good supply of water, and occasionally some dried corn on the cob but that is a very occasional treat. My setup is a medium rabbit cage alongside another tall cage. I raised the rabbit cage a little so there is no space to squeeze between and they're free to wander between the two cages as they see fit. I can get a picture of the setup if need be. I use recycled newspaper as bedding. My vet had a look at the rest of my ducks and dolls, all of them have a clean bill of health. He said he has seen a decent amount of cases of spontaneous heart failure, and that this is a quirk that sometimes happen so it's definitively not an isolated incident. The rest of them are still shocked but they eat, sleep and play normally, and I buried the little dude today, alongside Jezebel. At least the rest are A-1 health wise because I have no desire to bury another old friend this year.
 

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Most newspapers use a non-toxic ink, but that's the only thing you mentioned that I can question so far...

Although I shouldn't talk, my rats just tunneled into a bottle of windex under the sink... And No they weren't stupid enough to drink it, although they were kind enough to pop it above the liquid line, so it just poured out on my wife when she picked up the bottle.

On the other hand... our rats are highly skilled vermin and really good at not killing themselves. So, maybe the wrong kind of paper bedding could be a problem for some rats?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Sorry, should have been more specific -- I use Living World Fresh and Comfy. I have thought of using shredded old newspapers since I have access to a regular supply of it, would it be better than the Living World bedding? I've been using since I got my first rat with no issues whatsoever.
 

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I've personally never used either... But everything else you mentioned seemed pretty normal and common and rat safe. Some years ago I lost several animals... couldn't figure out the cause until I found out the neighbor apartment bug bombed when we weren't home.... Mystery solved.

This is the kind of weird stuff that kills your animals. That's why it pays to investigate after you get a sudden unexplained death. I suppose sometimes it's just bad luck or "natural causes" but sometimes it's something you can prevent in the future.

Best luck.
 
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