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Discussion Starter #1
Hey everyone,

It's been a very busy week with the rats and now a new problem has arisen.

I had all three of the new girls out for free range today with my brother when he pointed out that Nina was acting strange; she would twist her body in a way that's a little hard to describe so i took pictures the next time she did it:


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Anyway, i put her back into her cage and ran to tell my mum i needed to get to the vet so she came up to have a look for herself and i put Nina in the free ranging area. She just ran around completely normally, sniffing and exploring and even jumping and standing on her hind legs. I even made my mum stand there for ages because i was sure she'd do it again. Finally i had to agree that tomorrow once my dad gets back form work (he's the only driver so i was going to ask my nan to take me to the vet) that if the behaviour starts again we'd go to the vet.

Has anyone ever seen a rat do something like this? It looks even worse in person than it does in these pictures but right now she's acting completely normal. I've felt around her legs and spine and stomach and i thought her stomach felt a little lumpy at first but now it feels normal so i'm thinking i might have panicked and imagined things to be worse than they are. If i had my way we'd be at the vets right now but if she acted normal there too i think the vet would think i'm just wasting their time. (I once took a rat there for a respiratory problem and he didn't sneeze or wheeze the entire time we were there!)

So anyway, i'd appreciate any advice especially if anyone has seen something similar to this before. Thanks in advance!
 

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That sucking in of the abdomen and twist/stretch is normally a sign of pain or discomfort, usually in the abdomen. I would get her to the vet and you've got the pictures to show the vet if she doesn't do it again. Maybe it was something as simple as a tummy ache from something she ate, to an infection in the GI tract, to a tumor. But you won't know until you get her to the vet. Until then, try to watch what she's eating and drinking and make sure she's still taking food and water.
 

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Even if it doesn't start again take her and the photos to the vet. Body contortions don't randomly occur and can be very painful. If this was a one time thing with a dog I know no one would hesitate to take the dog in.
 

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I have 2 rats with megacolon. If they're doing not very well and need extra tummy rubbing/enemas/medication or such, they sometimes will do these "owwie stretches" too and twist and contort because theyr tummy hurts or is very uncomfortable. If it's not something you're previously aware of that's causing it (like a condition like megacolon) then I would be very careful and check her very often. The only other time I've seen these stretches personally is after my boys got neutered and they were very sore down there. Especially since she is a girl, I would worry about issues with her uterus. Check her vaginal area really often to see if she's bleeding down there, or see if she's licking down there a lot. Hopefully it's nothing serious, but if it's a uterine problem like pyometria, it's something that has to have emergency surgery to avoid death.

Sorry, we dont' want to freak you out, but it's really important to be aware of what could happen and not just brush it off if you don' see her do it again. Just make sure she isn't bleeding vaginally. I hope your little girl is ok! Hopefully it's just a tummy ache. Try feeling her tummy to see if she's maybe constipated too. You normally won't be able to feel poops inside a healthy rat, but if she's constipated, or maybe has megacolon, you will be able to.
 

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Looking at the picture again, she looks like she may be a high white which puts her at a much much bigger risk for megacolon (my rats are high white with megacolon too). Definitely rub her tummy gently to see if you can feel any poops stuck inside. Has she been pooping often and normally? does she have any poop stuck in her bottom? Feel on the sides of the anus under the tail, and you can feel if theres any poop stuck behind the opening. Let us know!
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the help, my dad will be back by midday and i'll take her in then. I'm pretty convinced that it is megacolon after doing some research. I had her out with me a few minutes ago and her poop was at least three times the size of my other ten week old rats. I took a side by side picture so i can show the vet that as well (lovely, i know). I was massaging her lower stomach and back and she relaxed a lot. She's been the hardest rat to bond with these last three days so i'm guessing being in pain is the reason for it because as soon as i massaged her she seemed like a different rat. I'm hoping the vet can confirm whatever it is and that she'll be okay, she's only ten weeks old and while researching i read that the younger the rat the more likely megacolon is to be fatal. I'm pretty stressed out right now just waiting for my dad to get home, luckily you don't have to book an appointment with my vet you can just walk straight in and you only have to wait for about ten minutes before being seen. I'll update you all when i get back.
 

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UPDATE: so, i just got in from the vets and things aren't looking so dreadful after all. The vet we saw was very lovely and she had rats of her own and seemed very knowledgeable concerning rattie health. I took in the pictures to show her and we agreed that it's a sign of abdominal pain. Nina had done A LOT of nervous poop on the way there which makes us thing megacolon may not be the issue here as it's the third time i've seen her poop today.

The vet put it down to her only having been with us for three days and so being stressed at the same time as us transitioning her onto new food (she was on pets at home's own nuggets but now i'm changing it over to Select rat pellets. It could also be that as they were pet shop rats they weren't getting a lot of (if any) fresh veggies and so perhaps i shouldn't have started giving them the same evening fresh food as my other rats quite so soon.

So all in all it looks as though the 'owie stretches' were due to her stomach not being too capable of digesting the new foods she's being introduced to while she's under the stress of settling into a new environment. The vet said that we should wait to see if she settles down and gets use to her new diet, and if things persist then we should take her back in for an X-ray and to have a sample of faeces sent of to the lab. She felt around her abdomen and said everything felt nice and normal and relaxed so i'm feeling a lot better about it now (i had trouble sleeping last night just worrying we wouldn't get her to the vet in time!)

Thanks everyone for your help and for showing concern for Nina, if things don't get any better then i'll let you all know what happens at our second vet visit! :D
 

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I'm so glad to hear it seems like a simple fix. I know it freaked you out but now you can relax a little and get back to enjoying your new baby.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thank you guys!
@mimsy, yes i'm looking forward to a good nights sleep, haha!
@LittleBird, i'm definitley looking forward to being able to bond with the new ratties without all these worries!
:)
 

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That's great! Hopefully the pain and weird looking poops may have just been maybe constipation with the new food transition. I've read that MC is much more rare in the UK so I really hope she doesn't have it! I would definitely keep an eye on her for any blood just in case.. but it sounds like good news! I'm happy for you both! :)
 

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She looks like a roan (common from pet shops over here) so megacolon is unlikley (and you might end up with a white rat soon lol). Hopefully it is a one of uncomfortableness, it can happen with stress, either that or bloating. You might want to look into a better diet for her if you can, pet at home nuggets are far from ideal (they are full of wheat and low quality ingredients). Check out www.ratrations.co.uk there own mixes are great and they do harrisons bannana brunch, rubbish for rabbits but great for rats. I recommend new owners to mix a RR mix and HBB 50:50 as a great basic food.
 
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