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Discussion Starter #1
Today I noticed Merry was walking kind of funny and not as energetic as usual. My other two boys typically walk low to the ground, and Merry typically hops around and moves fast. I noticed he was moving slower than usual and kind of holding himself up off of the ground more and holding his right hind leg up a bit. I picked him up to see if i could find an injury but didn't see anything and he didn't react like he was in pain when I felt it. He also acted completely different from his usual personality. Typically he wont sit still and hates being out of the cage, he has a ton of energy and will usually try to jump off the couch and run. But when I was just checking him out he was extremely mellow and walking slowly. He couldn't jump when he tried to turn his back leg kind of dragged under him with his foot curled. He crawled next to me on the blanket and kind of just flopped over next to me and closed his eyes. He has never been very affectionate so this was out of character. When he stood on my leg i could feel he wasn't putting much pressure on the foot, his toes aren't spread when he stands like they are on the other foot and he struggles to get into his hammock, kind of has to pull himself up into it with his front legs. Maybe its nothing but it was a bit worrying to me since I never noticed this before today. I tried to re intro him to my new rat Sam last night and they had a fight, but it was just one sided with Merry going after Sam so I'm not sure he got hurt there.

Could it just be that he hurt himself climbing around the cage? He has been a lot sleepier lately, but still drinks a ton and loves to eat. Could it be hind leg degeneration? He is only around seven month old. I'm so worried because he is acting so much different.
 

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Please don't panic, but look up pituitary tumors in rats and see if the symptoms match.
 

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How old is the rat? Have you tried to give him the 'Cheerio test'? (see if he will hold the cheerio properly as he is eating it). It does not have to be a cheerio but this is the easiest to tell with. A rat with PT usually struggles to hold food properly, getting worse as the PT progresses. You might have seen him leaning on his elbows to eat or eating close to the ground f he is affected. The sudden change in behavior is worrying to me since this was the earliest signs of PT in two of my boys. This was then followed by an inability to hold food, clubbing of the front paws, tilting, walking in circles and finally total loss of appetite and fatigue. It may also be something much more common in seniors such as HED which can look scarier than it actually is. Here is some information on both ailments:

http://ratguide.com/health/neoplasia/pituitary_tumor.php
http://ratguide.com/health/musculoskeletal/degenerative_osteoarthritis.php.

Either way I think that you should take him in to a vet to be evaluated. Both conditions can be aided with supplements/medications and, in the case of PT, finding out sooner rather than later will really buy time with your boy. Sorry to be a downer. I really hope that it is the HED or something else. Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #4
It doesn't seem like he has the symptoms for pituitary tumors, he doesn't have tilt, no issues with his front limbs, isn't losing weight, and doesn't seem confused or anything. But that doesn't mean it isn't. After observing him some more this afternoon, I'm thinking more that it might just be an injury though. When he isn't eating or drinking he lays in his hammock with the leg he was favoring up and extended and he has squeaked every time that his brother Pippin climbs into the hammock (he has never been a vocal rat). The squeaking has been happening for a couple days but I always thought it was Pippin (he is quite vocal and Merry picks on him a lot so I assumed Merry was giving him a hard time about going in his hammock) until today when I was watching them more. I gave Merry a little scratch when I saw him laying in the hammock like that and he gave a little squeak when I touched the foot/leg area.
If he has just injured his leg does he need to see the vet? Or how long should I wait before taking him in case it is something else, like a tumor. :/
 

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Discussion Starter #5
He is only about 7 months old. and he holds food perfectly fine. Every night when I feed them he reaches out and grabs the food from me easily with his paws and eats it normally, no leaning or anything, but ill keep an eye on that again tonight when he eats.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Well I just gave him a couple pieces of food and he took them more gently than usual and was eating low to the ground. He hold the back leg up off of the ground and kept kind falling over because of it and putting a front paw on the ground to hold himself up, but he was holding the piece of food in his hands fine.
 

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Well the holding food is a great sign. It sounds like a minor injury then.
 

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I suspect this is a fall injury, however he sounds like hes struggling more than I'd like in terms of leaving it so I would get him along to the vet and ask for a dex injection, this is a steroid which is very effective at reducing swelling in these kind of cases and can help heal quickly. The vet may well want to prescribe metacam or similar instead, it tends not to be as effective, especially if there is spinal damage, but if its all you can get its worthwhile.
 

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I'm getting him into the vet this afternoon once I'm home from work. His breathing was heavier this morning and I think he was in more pain, anytime pippin touched him he would squeak, and he's never been a vocal rat. Hopefully it's just a little fall injury and the vet can get it all sorted out easily.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Vet gave him an X-ray and its soft tissue damage on his right hind leg, either from a fall or getting it caught climbing. She also said it probably happened a while ago and it's just now irritated it enough to show pain. He is on Metacam for that. In the quarantine cage to heal up. And also found a lot of chest congestion so he is on Doxy.
Any ideas on how to get him to take it better is welcome. He's not to keen on the syringes.
 

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Meat flavored baby foods, banana flavored baby foods, little honey or jam with warm oatmeal are all bribes that worked for me. You can put the medicine/yummy treat mixture on a spoon instead of a syringe but it is really worth trying to get the rat desensitized to a syringe in the long run. You can do this by putting yummy stuff (no meds) in the syringe and feed him it so that he learns to have positive associations. Best of luck healing up, ratty!
 
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