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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Our sweet boy Nickolai has been developing what I thought was a tumor on his neck, but today the bump (About a ping pong ball in size!) opened. We didn't see it open, we found him with it open. Inside is a greenish white sort of gunk. Like dried puss? It is not liquid. He isn't bleeding, and it isn't leaking anything. Here is a couple photos of the bump before it opened:





And after it opened:



The bump grew really fast, less than a week. We called the vet as soon as we noticed, they said it sounded like a tumor, and to keep an eye on it. It grew very fast, but he seemed okay. We kept in touch with the vet, and they said they could remove it, but is was very expensive. He is 2 1/2 years old, which I know is getting pretty old for a rat, so we weren't sure it made sense. Especially considering how fast it grew, we figured it would come back. We had even started talking about putting him down soon, as he had started getting a bit lethargic.

After this opened, strangely he seems 100x better. He is running around, playing, and full of spunk again! I am taking this as a good sign, but I want to know what to do to help him stay that way! The vet isn't upen for a couple days... How can I help him?
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
I put him in our hospital cage after sanitizing it thoroughly, and put layers of fleece in it, no bedding. I'm worried about bedding getting in the open wound. I also separated our boys, so Tesla wouldn't accidentally hurt Nickolai. This is really bothering Tesla though... I put the cages close together so they can see each other, but Tesla is chewing the cage bars next to Nickolai because he wants to see him. They are super close, and not used to being apart. If I can put them together, they would both be much happier.
 

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Especially because it was so fast growing, it's almost definitely an abscess (The vet thought it was a tumor??). It's possible that it could be a tumor that got infected and abscessed too though, but abscesses grow very quickly because the infection builds up. And with that awful green, it's definitely an infection in there! Poor little guy! The pressure is relieved because it popped so that's probably why he feels better, but he really needs to be put on antibiotics for such a large infection to make sure it hasn't or won't spread to other parts of his body. It will also help him heal easier. I'll find the link for the abscess care thread here. You will need to flush it out regularly and if he'll let you, try to gently squeeze it to get as much of the pus out as you can. Make sure it stays open too. It needs to heal from the inside out. If it closes up before it heals, it will encapsulate the infection and it will grow again. It's very good that you put him in a cage with no bedding, the little bits and pieces could get inside. You don't need to separate the rats though, his buddy might be good emotional support while he heals. He will probably be totally fine to have his buddy with him, and might even do better not being alone.

Definitely get some antibiotics for him. and definitely flush the pocket with solution to keep it clean while it heals and to wash out any gunk in there. I hope he does well! He's such a cutie. :)
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thank you!!!Do I need to get anti-biotics from a vet, or can I get something for him sooner? He got sick a while back, and we used anti-biotics from the vet to help him get better, but I accidentally left them out overnight one night, ant it turned black. I was afraid to use it after that, but still have it. He had been over his cold for about 4 days by then, so it wasn't a big deal. I just know you need to keep taking anti-biotics well after feeling better so it won't become resistant. I hope it is only an abscess, and not a tumor! He is the sweetest little guy, I don't want to lose him!!!
 

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You should really get it from a vet. They could also give other suggestions on the abscess care. But if you can't get an appointment for a while, or you're really nervous, you can get amoxicillin capsules online that are made for fish. Or your local aquarium store probably carries them. But 100% you NEED to know his weight so you can give proper dosage. A vet might be able to just weigh him if you ask, or if you have a kitchen scale you can get his weight. Let me look up the info on mixing the amox capsules, I don't remember off the top of my head lol. But definitely do that abscess care religiously to get all the gunk out so he can heal, that's the most important thing!
 

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Here's what I posted a few days ago for someone else.

Something a lot of people here do (myself included) is get the amoxicillin capsules made for fish tanks. They are capsules with 250mg of amoxicillin. You mix a flavoring (I use chocolate syrup and a little water so it's a little thick but not too watery).

Get a mortar and pestle or anything you can use the same way really, and open the capsule and grind it up as fine as possible. Add 5mL of the liquid/flavoring and mix very well. Keep in the refrigerator and throw out after 10 days. 14 days would be safer but you would need to mix up a new batch. 10 days is pretty standard for new symptoms though I think.

You can buy fish amoxicillin capsules online or at fish stores. You will also need to buy a kitchen scale to get your rat's weights in grams so you know how to properly dose them. both of these items to buy should be cheaper than a vet visit, and are really good to keep on hand in your ratty first-aid kit! You will also need to buy a 1 mL sized needless syringe to measure out the meds.

Use this medication guide here:

http://www.ratclub.org/dose_general.htm

The concentration is 50 mg/mL, the dosage 10mg/lb, and the weight is your rat's weight. It will tell you how much to give them. For example, one of my boys gets 0.2mL for his weight, and one of my girls gets 0.14mL for her weight. Keep it refrigerated, and shake it up really well before each time. Give it to them twice a day every 12 hours.

Hopefully your ratties will be all better by the time the vet appointment comes around and you can cancel it. You do not want to put off treating a possible URI at all because they can advance very very quickly! Best wishes to your new babies! I hope this was helpful!
This was written for someone whose baby had URI symptoms, but the mixing directions are the same.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Good news for today! Nickolai is still much happier, and seems to be basically back to his old self. The bump doesn't seem to bother him at all. I tried to push the gunk out, but it has hardened a fair bit, and won't come out. He will be seeing the vet ASAP to have it cleaned out. The bump has shrunk significantly, and is mostly empty now. It moves with his skin, and doesn't act like it is a tumor, in my humble opinion. I also cleaned the big cage very thoroughly, and put fleece in the bottom so the boys could be together again. The reunion was adorable, they both missed each other very much! They are snuggling fast asleep in the top of the cage now. I am feeling much more optimistic about this ordeal now. Hopefully the vet can clean it out, fix him up, and after some healing, it will be business as usual! *fingers crossed*

Anyway, the main cage looks pretty rad with the new green fleece, so I thought I'd post a pic:



The little cage is our hospital cage. I am so thankful we had it!
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Also, thank you so much for the info on anti-biotics. I am calling the vet first thing in the morning (and have already e-mailed them) so he will be going in either tomorrow or the next day, as long as they have time to see him. Do you think he will be okay until then? The gunk has dried up, so I cannot extract it on my own. Hopefully it will be okay until the vet can do it.
 

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Such a huge infection puts him at high risk for sepsis (septicemia). If it has hardened try the warm cloth compresses recommended in the sticky Finnebon linked.
 

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If it's in the next day or two, he should hopefully be fine until the vet can clean it out and give him antibiotics. If it feels like it's totally hard in there, it's possible it could be a tumor that became abscessed. Our most recent boy that had to be pts had a tumor that became abscessed and infected and at the time, we weren't sure if it was just hardened gunk or not, but it turns out it was a tumor inside the abscess. Some abscesses do have to be surgically removed, so be prepared for that possibility. Hopefully this is something that can be easily fixed with home treatment and antibiotics! Try the warm wet towel compresses Jaguar suggested, and keep flushing it out as much as you can. Let us know how his appointment goes please! I'm glad your boys were so happy to be reunited, that sounds adorable! (their names are awesome too!)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Crap, I forgot to update you guys!

So, surgery went pretty well. The vet thinks the abscess may have been caused by a tumor in his Zymbal's Gland, which is part of a rat's ear. Another forum member said that was unlikely as the abscess formed behind his ear, not under it. If it is a tumor, Nickolai's life is not expected to be much longer. I guess since he his 2 1/2 already, it may not matter much. He is already getting pretty old! Hopefully, it will be long enough for him to heal fully, and enjoy running around for a while longer! We need to be on top of checking his neck, another abscess could form if we aren't careful, but now that we know what it is, the vet can lance it before it gets as bad. Poor little guy.

Here is how he looks post surgery:



Much better!

He and I are getting a ton of time together as a result of this too. He is on anti-biotics for 10-14 days, and I clean the stitches twice a day with sodium chloride irrigation stuff. He stays perfectly still while I clean around it, and then he snuggles up in my arm when I'm done. I don't know how such a huge heart fits in such a tiny body! In about a week his stitches get to be removed. Hopefully i can put the boys back together then. We have supervised play dates for them, but Tesla really wants to "clean" the stitches on Nickolai... which just hurts him, and then I have to break them up again. I'm sure he thinks he is helping, but he kinda comes off as a little jerk, lol! (and thus "little jerk" has become his nickname!)

Thank you guys so much for the support! It means the world to me! We were very scared when we saw the bump, and then terrified when it suddenly opened, and the forums helped us stay sane through it all.
 

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Well I hope it's not a tumour and glad to see that he is doing and feeling better. Hope for the best nickolai
 

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Wow, 2 1/2 and did so well with surgery? That's great! I'm glad it seems to have went well! I hope it wasn't a tumor (again, the vet still couldn't tell if it was an abscess or tumor even after removing it and could look at it?) but hopefully it would be ok. Normally for the type of high risk tumor I think you're thinking of, I could be thinking of something completely different too, it's under the ear like the other person said, kind of on the jaw. Hopefully it was just a nasty abscess! He looks great!
 
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