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Hi I need help. Like a lot of help. Me and my sister have owned rats for years. The rats we have had always lived to their 3 year mark and thrived. We never had a problem with rats. The rats we always had were always from either the local pet shop (local breeder) or from friends who had baby rats. I work at a commercial pet store. I have worked there for 3 years....and with the knowledge I have about rats from my training, through having many years of rat ownership, and taking Animal and plant science.... I have never seen this. EVER. I bought my sister 2 female rats. I know for a fact that they weren't from the same litter because one of them was bigger than the other one. My sisters rats were named Kai (larger- hooded dove) and Luna (smaller- hooded black). Both of them got along great and they were fine. Always healthy, active, alert, playing, eating and drinking. I bought them on 11/24/14. Out of nowhere on 1/7/15 both Luna and Kai stopped grooming themselves. Their fur was started to get oily and unkept. The day before they appeared perfectly healthy. Within a few hours Luna (the little one) started to appear lethargic and was cold and shaking. Later that night, Kai (the bigger one) wad found dead in the corner of the cage. I don't know how this could have happened so suddenly because they both appeared in perfect health. The only thing that seemed wrong with Kai was that she wasn't grooming herself. I would have thought it would have been Luna that was going to be the one that was dead, not Kai. The next day Luna started spewing what I believe to be blood coming out of either her anus or vulva. I tried putting pedialyte in the water to get her electrolytes up (worked with our first rat that had a tumor), and I fed her some Ensure through an eye dropper because she wasn't eating. No visible tumors. The only thing that I could think of was poisoning. I say this because Luna had a knack for somehow escaping from their cage. I was thinking that maybe when she got out she brought something in her mouth and shared it with the other...but we never saw anything in her mouth. ALSO with our past rats that always lived their whole live expectancy, we always used to let them roam around the room as long as the door was shut. The room was actually rat proofed and it still is so I'm not 100% about the poisoning theory. We also wash our hands before and after holding them to prevent spreading anything, which is why I don't believe they could have gotten sick from us. We also fed them normal rat food which consisted of light seed and some type of grain. The brand was called Tropical Carnival. Anway so my sister was absolutely heart broken and she wanted to replace her rats. Before doing so I asked my managers what could have caused their sudden deaths. One manager said it was the food...which I don't see how that could have been the culprit since they had been eating it for months and our past rats ate the same diet. One manager said it could have been a brain tumor. That's not entirely possible for two rats from different litters from the same order to somehow have tumors at the same time and die just days apart being of juvenile age....or is it? Another manager said it could have been pneumonia from a draft in the room. There were no drafts. The room is generally around 65 to 70 degrees. Again. We had never had this problem. So we just assumed maybe it was just a freak thing. On 1/24/15 my sister got two more female rats from our store. Both from the same litter and were about the same age and size as Luna. My sister named them Rosy and Olive. We switched to the same food the store was using. 2/12/15 little miss Olive got out of her cage. She didn't go far because she was sitting on top of their cage. Apparently yesterday 2/13/15 she had gotten out again so my sister temporarily isolated her in another cage next to our main cage. I looked at her this morning at around 10am and she looked completely fine. My sister texted me at 10pm today informed me that Olive has started to show the same symptoms as the previous rats did. How is it possible that just 12 hours after seeing her she is in that condition. She is lethargic, fur is greasy, and her eyes are half closed. I almost want to jump to the conclusion that poisoning of some sort is the culprit...but then again I don't know if I should because all the rats we had before were from local breeders and never did we have a problem with locally bred rats. Our problems didn't arise until we bought from the commercial pet store that I work at. I also could lose Unfortunately we cannot go to an exotic vet. Money is an issue sadly. Also there are a few factors that are standing in the way. Being that the rats came from the store I work at, they most likely would think that we are purposely killing the rats for some ungodly reason (my Petcare manager was pretty rude to my sister when she explained the issue with the first rats and she's a little insane), if I started pointing fingers at the breeder for the company I could actually lose my job which would not be ideal because I'm currently 9 months pregnant on bed rest (last day of work was last week) and I need my job because I am a full time employee with benefits so I am actually getting paid on my time off, but there's also a lot of complications when it comes to issues with sales between an employee and their family members that bought animals from the company, and we have a 14 day guarantee so returning them to the store isn't an option. I'm kind of in a pickle.....but if anyone knows what could have caused their deaths and what could be causing my sisters rat Olive to be sick, that would be great. Rosy appears fine. She's still active and alert. I asked this on yahoo answers a while ago when Kai died back in the beginning of January but I got no replies for a while and then after a week I got one reply and that one person had no idea what it was because they had never heard of it before. I would have asked this in the rat healthcare forum but the admin won't let me post anywhere except this part of the forum. Any imput would be much appreciated.
 

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Sorry for your losses.

It sounds like Sendai or SDA, both of which are viral infections. Where are you located? This is running rampant in the USA right now, especially in OH/PA/MI...http://ratguide.com/health/viruses/sendai_virus_sv.php Most likely, they had this virus then succumb to secondary infections (bleeding from the vulva sounds like pyo).

It can be treated, but without treatment it is unfortunately fatal. Any rats that are exposed to the virus will get it. More so, the virus can be carried by humans for up to three hours after exposure.
 

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No problem. Hope the babies make it through. If not, I would sanitize any items/cage, wait 3 weeks and then buy from a separate provider (local breeder best). I would also be careful, you can spread the virus to other rodents within 3 hours (so to pet store animals or from them). I would additionally notify the store as it will likely affect other customers and their stock.
 

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Years ago I had a similar problem with my little sisters hamsters. They would be fine and we would find them dead. After the 3rd time we asked a commercial pet stores manager what the deal was. He told us that when rats, hamsters, etc are bred, some are bred with medical problems for medical/veterinary students and sometimes accidents happen and they may get a wrong "batch" aka rodents bred with medical issues from the get go. Years later I plan to enroll in veterinary school and at an orientation walk through come to find a room full of rodents, that the class has to "determine whats wrong" and save them. At the end, the ones that make it and are healthy get adopted out at a giant event. They also do this with cats and dogs that are in kill shelters. Becoming a vet or vet tech looks like it actually kind of sucks, but for the ones that don't make it you save hundreds more I guess.
 
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