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Hello! I have a few questions regarding my rats Ruby & Ivory, but first let me explain the situation.

I rescued Ruby & Ivory from the animal shelter and was told they're about 3 years old. Understanding that they probably wouldn't live much longer, I decided to adopt them to give them a happy "rest of their life." I've had my little ratties for 7 months.

About 2 days ago Ivory started grunting and hasn't stopped since. After some research, I've found it's most likely respiratory related. I'm also concerned because she seems to be getting aggressive with Ruby lately. They were making a lot of commotion last night, squealing and all, so I separated them.

Ruby's fur is red stained and has been for at least a month now. I know that this is called porphyrin and that it’s caused by either stress or an illness. I thought it was stress because I’ve moved recently and have to keep my rats in my bedroom with my cats. I block the cage at night so my cats can’t stick their paws in the cage and disturb them. I've also tried giving Ruby as much attention as I can and clean their cage once a week, but nothing seems to help. Her red tears come and go, but the red staining around her neck and ears hasn't changed.

My questions are this:
1) If Ivory does have a respiratory illness, is it contagious?
2) Could Ivory be acting aggressive because she is not feeling well?
3) If a rat is stressed, how long does it take for the red staining to disappear once they are not stressed anymore?
4) If the staining is not going away, is it fair to assume that Ruby is ill and not stressed?

These are the first rats I’ve owned so I’m not quite sure what to do. I know people will tell me to take them to the vet, but how much will that cost? Please help. Thank you!
 

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the cost of the vet will depend on the vet and the illness. my favorite vet charges a $45 office call but the meds are cheap and the quality is great. i have had vets that were cheaper but not as good at rat care as my current vet. look around but make it fast as respiratory illnesses can go down hill fast.

respiratory illnesses can be contagious to other rats with a weakened immune system so it's likely Ruby has it too.

the red does stain a bit harder then other things so a bath might be in order. perhaps she just hasn't cleaned it off as well as the shoulder area is a bit harder to clean. make sure the bath is warm and she's thoroughly dried off afterwards. but yes, this can be a sign of a illness as well. if the red comes back after the bath then its fair to assume she's ill as well. the good thing though is that it doesn't cost anymore to bring in two rats over one. and often the medication doesn't cost any extra either.

Ivory's aggression could be that's she's just not feeling well or they could just be going through some roommate dispute about who was supposed to make the nest that night. i wouldn't be concerned about it too much. make ivory as comfortable as possible and give her lots of loves to make her feel a little better emotionally at least and remember, no blood no foul.
 
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