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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I've wrote a few posts about Albus's recent health problems (URI followed by abscess followed by balance issues), but now, as his coordination continues to decline, I'm fairly certain he has a pituitary tumor. I've never seen this in a rat, so I'm going to list his symptoms and if anyone could confirm (the two vets I took him to were baffled) that it is what I suspect or if not, what it might be. He's been treated with two different full courses of antibiotics, so we've ruled out an ear infection.
-extreme head tilt (worsening)
-very jerky and ungraceful (for lack of a better term) head movements
-serious lack of balance and occasionally just falling over when he's not even moving
-circling in the opposite direction of his head tilt (in other words his head tilts to the left and he circles to the right)
-he seems very excitable which prompts lots of jerky movements

A little about Albus: He's around 9 months old and came from a feeder bin at a local pet store. He's albino and I know that they don't take much care in their breeding practices. He was neutered about 3 months ago a month after which he became ill with a URI, a month after that the abscess and the current symptoms started about a month ago with an almost unnoticeable deficit in his balance and have continued worsening since. He still seems extremely happy, holds his food (though tips over if he tries to prop himself up too high), and passes the cage bar grabbing test on both sides though his grasp seems much weaker than my other rats. He's the first to greet me in the morning and interacts well with his cage mates. If this is a pituitary tumor, how long do I have left with him? Is there a point where it becomes obvious that it's time to PTS and that becomes the better option than waiting for them to pass naturally?
 

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We had an old boy (about 2 1/2) that had a pituitary tumor. We kept hoping he would pass naturally at home too, but he didn't. And we really regret not having him put to sleep sooner since he kept getting worse very slowly over the period of a few months. I'm not sure how much he was suffering, but his quality of life was definitely taken away. He'd have good days where he'd perk up and his eyes would bighten a little, but most of the time, he just kept losing more weight, gradually lost the use of his back legs and just became weak and lethergic overall,would stumble or fall more often from weakness or lack of balance, lost his appetite and couldn't keep his movable bottom teeth together and they began to wear unevenly and would snap or grow to poke his mouth and needed them clipped, and just sat and stared through very squinty almost closed eyes. He had to have butt baths a couple times per day because he couldn't situate himself properly to potty and would be soaking in his own urine. He just kept getting worse. His brother was put to sleep a month later mainly due to another issue, but we had noticed the slow onset of the same symptoms his brother had a couple weeks prior so we knew he likely had a PT too, so we had him put to sleep while he was still showing minimal symptoms

I'm so sorry you're going through this. If you're not prepared to have him pts soon, you should try taking him to other vets and ask a lot of questions to make sure the vets you're going to actually know about more obscure rat issues beyond just the typical URI. Most vets have no idea about rat care and seem to only know what they learned in school which isn't much.

Would you happen be located in CA? I could recommend a couple vets that I trust and would give you good care.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Unfortunately, I'm located in an area of Texas where there are only two vets I've found that take on small animals and my city is so isolated that it'd be 4+ hours to anywhere else that has a small animal vet. I don't like either of the vets and don't think they know much about rats (or reptiles since I've taken my beardy in a few times too), but what can I do? :/ Are the symptoms I described similar to what your boy went through? What about the time frame of going from minimal balance issues to what I described in about a month? It's really hard to consider having him pts when he still seems so happy. I got home this afternoon from being out of town overnight and as soon as I opened the cage and called his name he started bruxing. I figure I'll let him go on until he has trouble eating or getting around and then I'll consider pts.
 

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Our boy was never jerky or twitchy with his. It may just have been the location and what other areas of the brain it was pushing on. But symptoms will be different for each rat. Our boy only started losing his balance and wobbling because he got very weak and couldn't move his limbs very well and lost strength. It was early this year so I don't remember exact details. I just know it was a very slow long process so we kept (stupidly) being hopeful he would turn around, even after the vet diagnosed it as a likely PT. He would eat a little more on some days and we'd think "oh, maybe he will start feeling a little better soon and will have more time" but he never really improved and kept having a pretty steady decline. But it didn't seem like he was in pain, so we kept waiting. We regret waiting now.. maybe he wasn't in pain, but he was definitely not happy or enjoying life anymore and I feel terrible for making him wait through all that.

His brother was an even harder decision to have put to sleep because he still seemed pretty normal and perky and attentive. About two weeks before he was PTS, he did start to wobble a bit, and started losing his appetite and would space out pretty often. He wasn't twitchy either, he seemed very similar to his brother. But he had an infected abcessed cancerous tumor near his genital area that had a root deeper inside closer to his penis and the vet was worried it would soon block his ability to urinate and cause pain and kidney failure, so we had him pts sooner rather than later. Both of my boys bodies after pts were donated to the UC Davis vet school for autopsy and we got the results and they did both have PTs for certain.

But I know how TERRIBLE and difficult it is to have to consider pts for a rat that still seems happy and healthy. Going through this again right now with my heart-rat and we are just taking it day by day making sure she still feels totally happy and unaffected with her issue. But at the very first sign something is wrong, I will definitely have to take her in immediately for pts and the thought is just totally gut wrenching.. The only thing I could recommend is set aside a few times each day for long periods of observation. If you can, have him and his cage nearby you as much as possible whenever you're home. In case anything happens you want to be sure that you can see him if there's any odd behavior that you might not notice otherwise. I don't know if it will help for a PT, but you could try turkey tail mushroom everyday to hopefully slow the growth of the tumor and to increase immune system health. http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0017OB03E...9620886&sr=sr-1&keywords=turkey+tail+mushroom
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you for your responses, Finnebon. Of all my males, Albus is the only one that ever really became a heart rat, so it hurts me to see him declining. I just hope that I am able to make the right decision about pts at the right time. I purchased some of the turkey tail mushroom a while back when a girl I was fostering for a friend had a mammary tumor, didn't even think to try giving it to Albus.
 

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im so sorry that you are going through that. if he still seems happy than you shouldn't put him to sleep. but when he starts to get depressed or cant walk then it may be time. :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
New symptom today: he couldn't find the treats that I scatter on the floor during free range :( he was literally walking around in the middle of the pile and couldn't find one until I picked it up and touched it to his mouth. After watching some videos of rats with pt on ratguide.com, I'm about 99% certain that that's what he has :/ I feel like he's also starting to look a little slimmer. He's always been very sleek and slim for a boy, but I'm going to get a kitchen scale at the store and make sure he's not losing too much. I've got emergency high calorie supplemental food on hand just in case.
 
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