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Hi there, I was hoping someone could help me with this. I've been keeping ratties for some years now and so have seen a few generations.

My cages are lined with newspaper to protect delicate feet and legs from the bars and where it sits under a water bottle, the water will often drip on the paper, creating a wet spot. I've noticed that when a rattie gets very sick, one thing they do is start to eat wet newspaper. I first saw this in a girl with a pituitary tumour and assumed it was pressing on the brain and distorting their taste or something, but I've noticed several others do it since, such as a girl who had congestive heart failure.

Now one of my current little ones, quite an elderly man at 2 yrs 7 mnths old, and despite his age, he is still quite spritely and gets around fairly easily. However, I've noticed him start to eat the wet newspaper too.

Has anybody else noticed this habit and do you know what it means?
 

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I don't use newspaper for a bedding, so I can't say I've seen it. My girls do love paper in every form, though mostly just for shredding and nesting value...

As a thought, perhaps they are thirsty, and find it more convenient in their lessened state to eat soaked paper instead of reaching up for the water sipper? But if your elderly gentleman is still "spritely," then perhaps that's not it.
 

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Yeah, I had considered the thirsty angle and when it was a little person who was terminal with a tumour, that made sense. But others, like my current elderly gentleman, are perfectly capable of sipping and will actually take a drink from the bottle and then go back to eating the wet newspaper.

It doesn't seem to do them any harm, it just worries me as to why they'd do it. I can't think what wet newspaper would give them that their diet doesn't.
 
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