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I'm just curious... Has anyone had a rat that doesn't get easily sick? While {knock on wood} we have been so lucky with our girls (who are still very young) I must say reading on here and research leads me to believe rats get sick a lot and easily... Is that what you find to be the case?I was wondering if anyone has had minimal issues with health until your rat started to get older? I just think how over the last 7 years I have had to take my cat into the vet once but seem to read about rats getting sick left and right... I'm just curious how much of that is just not hearing the good stories bc most people don't post those or that rats are just a type of pet that need lots of medical care?
 

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I have six rats currently. Three born in February 15, 2 born in May 15, one in August 15. I have had one to the vet and on antibiotics so far this year. So at this point we have had a pretty healthy year. I have had other rats in the past that seemed like they were always sick. I think it just varies, but I do think that rats are definetly more prone to respiratory issues more so than the average pet.
 

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Our rats have proven themselves pretty much bomb-proof. They just about never get sick and when they do, they pretty much get over it faster than humans do without any intervention. Not only that but they can heal from catastrophic injuries faster than any human would, especially when they are young.

Yes rats do tend to get tumors when they are older, but I do believe this is genetic to a large degree and likely the result of inbreeding. I mean although there's no shortage of wild rats in the world, domestic rat breeders rarely outbreed our pets with wild rats from Asia (where the genepool would be deepest) to bring in new and stronger genes. So while the genepool for domestic rats is wide, it's also pretty shallow.

As to URI's I'm currently working on a theory that rats need healthy probiotic bacteria to protect them from URI's... Perhaps we all do. Rats bred in captivity don't get much exposure to nature and the kinds of healthy natural bacteria that lives everywhere outside.... My idea comes from the fact that our rats are shoulder rats that go outdoors and sniff real dirt... and they just never get sick. So while there may be risks involved in exposing rats to the great outdoors, I'm thinking there may be benefits too. Consider for a moment the kinds of places where wild rats choose to live... which would also be precisely the kinds of places where all kinds of bacteria would commonly colonize. This has me thinking that rats have evolved to take advantage of bacteria in their system which would protect or inoculate them from the bad kind. In any case it's just a working theory...

Lastly, I agree that more people are coming to this board to look for help with their sick rats rather than to report that their rats are healthy. This board has members world wide so there may be several posts about sick rats every day and that wouldn't conceivably represent a fraction of a percent of the rats kept as pets. If you were to interview people about their health problems you would most likely find that most people you interview were sick if you conducted the study in a doctor's office.
 

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It depends on the rat and what you term as sickness. All rats will die of something, be that a long term chronic respiratory disease or sudden organ failure at the end of life. Old age in itself isn’t a cause of death, its all the bits and bobs failing that does it.

However do all rats need to go to the vets all the time? It depends on the rat, I have some rats who never once need to see the vets, either having an issue free life, or having only minor bits and bobs I can treat at home. Then I have some rats who visit the vets multiple times.

The amount they go to the vets also depends a lot on your opinions on what warrents treatment. I know some owners who take there rats to the vets if they sneeze a couple times or scratch themselves a bit more than normal. I know others who would only take them to the vet for major complicated illnesses or surgery, treating the rest at home. Then theres some people who don’t choose to intervene in a lot of things like tumours etc as long as the rat isn’t actively suffering

I’m probably somewhere in the middle as I can treat most minor things at home (with my vets blessing) but do take mine alogn to the vets if I need more antibiotics that I don’t have to hand (in the uk you cant buy them online, and whilst my vet is happy to give me extra to have on hand, she legally has to have seen a rat she can prescribe it to in the last so many months). I also take them in for surgery or tests that I cant do myself (I do basic urine tests at home, but get confirmation or things like X-RAY / UT at the vets.

Then there’s the owners ability to spot stuff, or question it. I’ve got a bit of a reputation with my current and previous vets for spotting things early, and for spotting the odd stuff. Me and one of my friends rats account for most of the weird issues my vet see’s because we’ve got the knowledge and experience (and interest) to spot things that aren’t quite right, this has led to quite a few less usual things being discovered that I would say 90% of owners wouldn’t have either noticed or been able to pin down fast enough to get a diagnosis before the rat needed PTS or passed away (plus with me routinely getting post mortems done I know what’s going on). Things like blocked bladder, throat cancer, bone cancer, ectopic eyelids, etc)

I’d say that probably 40% of my rats never need to see the vets, passing at home when the time comes, 40% of the rats might go once, either for a put to sleep or go for one issue, and the other 20% you might get multiple vet visits. I haven’t had any rats for years that I would describe is sickly, most of my multiple visitors have been minor abscesses or end of life illnesses (like cancer / kidney failure etc.). Saying that my lot of well-bred guys and don’t get issues with myco, probably the main cause of chronic illnesses in rats, they are much more prone to weird stuff.

Oh I should add theres a difference in bucks and does too. When you take resp issues out of the equation (which your rats either are or aren’t susceptible to) they have different issues. A buck is far more likely to have relatively minor abcesses which can be treated at home, then pass from kidney or heart failure at home. Does are more prone to tumours which often are easily removable surgically, pt’s which need treatment to improve quality of life before PTS, pyo which needs a spay and so on.


And I haven’t even got onto environmental factors like diet and habitat lol….. not to mention chances of picking up infections etc.

As a side not Rat Daddy, whilst I don’t take mine out that much to the great outdoors I take mine along to rat shows and to visit friends for this very reason. They do carry greater risk of picking up viral infections, however I believe it also helps toughen up the immune system to be exposed to minor infections regularly.
 

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Isamurat, Over the past few years I've noticed that rats exposed to the world tend to be relatively healthy while green house rats tend to be uncommonly otherwise. I suppose one might traipse plenty of dirt in under one's shoes to get the job done, but these days some folks really do keep hepa clean homes, leave their shoes outside etc and have practically sterile rat rooms and cages... And those seem to be the folks with rats that have the URI's and other health issues... for which in turn they keep their homes additionally sterile.

I've seen rats in subways, around zoos, near dumps, in factories and in some gawd awful places, and I've always been impressed with how active and healthy they looked (perhaps with the exception of a particularly large rat that lived in a cookie factory, and he looked healthy... just fat).

I know my "getting dirty" theory might seem counter-intuitive to some folks but if the species evolved living in underground dens around human waste and cast offs, it seems reasonable to me that they may have evolved to perhaps need certain elements from their native environment to stay healthy. We know that rats can carry some bad bacteria around all of their lives... perhaps they can also carry around beneficial bacteria that keeps the bad in check once exposed... In fact they might even be able to inoculate each other as long as one rat is properly exposed...

I know it's only a theory, but I started paying attention when folks suggested that our shoulder rats would most likely catch something bad and die young from exposure to the great outdoors... So I started keeping our rats away from friend's hot house rats... To my surprise, it was the hot house rats that got sick more often.

It is a very strange world...
 

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I've seen rats in subways, around zoos, near dumps, in factories and in some gawd awful places, and I've always been impressed with how active and healthy they looked (perhaps with the exception of a particularly large rat that lived in a cookie factory, and he looked healthy... just fat).
Most wild rats die before reaching a year old, so I don't think that's a very good measure of overall health.
 

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I currently have 15 rats. None very so much as get the sneezes. They are ranging from the youngest born oct 1 2014 to Buttercup who is almost a year.

The only one who has any issues is Buttercup who seems to get random abscesses. Never in the same place and easily treated..but it is rather perplexing and we keep thinking their is a cause that we are missing.
 
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