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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This is NOT a question, just an informative thread/update that, hopefully, might be able to help someone in the future! (But if you have advice/thoughts, feel free to chime in!)

My rat Frannie is having a bit of an unusual medical situation with joint swelling. I haven’t been able to find much information or advice on it anywhere, so I decided to detail our experience and treatment process here, in case anyone has this problem in the future and is searching for advice!

(again, this is just our personal experience: if you have a medical problem with your pets, take them to your vet! this is just here to give a lil extra info if helpful! Also, I am not a vet, so there may be errors in this).

This said, here’s the issue: He’s been having swelling in his legs, on and off. A leg will be swollen for about a week. It gets swollen, painful, and he won’t put weight on it. Then the swelling goes away. Then, later on, swelling occurs in a different leg. This has happened 3 times so far in different legs.

(I detailed it more and included photos in previous posts seeking advice, which can be seen here:


repeated leg swelling


lyme disease in rats?? )

We took him to the vet today, thinking he most likely had lymes disease. There’s not much information on lymes in rats, since most domestic rats are never exposed to ticks. But Frannie was originally found as a stray (he’s domestic, but was abandoned outside and had 5 deer ticks on him, biting into him, when he was found). This said, deer ticks spread lymes disease and migratory swelling in limbs is a symptom of lymes disease in other species. He has not had a lack of appetite or appeared lethargic, though.

Our vet said lymes disease is a possibility, but that MYCOPLASMA CAN ALSO cause joint swelling. We were not aware of this, as it is not commonly listed as a symptom of mycoplasma in rats. However, I did them look it up and manage to find a few research articles mentioning it

(The abstract of this article talks about this: Detection of Mycoplasma pulmonis in arthritic joints of rats by indirect immunoperoxidase staining. )

This said, our vet prescribed antibiotics— I think it was Doxycycline— which can be used to treat Lymes Disease and Mycoplasma.

Vet also said that they can
1.) Draw blood and test for Lymes Disease, but that this involves drawing blood, and that lymes disease tests are not very accurate

2.) Take a saliva swab test for Mycoplasma. This wouldn’t change our immediate treatment, but may impact the care/medication he needs throughout his life.

We decided to just do a swab test for mycoplasma, and will get results in 1-2 weeks.

(Mycoplasma is a common respiratory problem in rats: Frannie occasionally has a runny nose or makes breathing sounds, but not very frequently, and our vet said he was healthy in his initial exam, so we didn’t think anything of it.)

Anyway, I will update this thread as I get more info, if anyone is interested. I just wanted to put the information out there since it took us a lot of time and digging to start to figure out what was up, and I couldn’t find anything on something like this (repeated, unexplained, leg swelling flare ups, or lymes disease and/or mycoplasma causing limb swelling) in the forum, or on most other sites.
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Update: Three days into treatment with doxycycline, and now his front right leg is having the symptoms the others had (earlier tonight he was holding it up/not wanting to put as much weight on it, after playing and running around for a while it became swollen). Hopefully the doxycycline ends these flare-ups. I also find it worth noting that this means that each of his legs has now had a flare-up, and that these flare-ups occurred in a counter-clockwise rotation (front left leg, back left leg, back right leg, front right leg) with each leg healing/returning to normal before the next one was effected (with a small gap of time between).

Anyway, we don’t have any additional information on the cause of this, but I wanted to update on this development anyhow.

(Hope everyone is having a safe and happy holiday!! And, for anyone concerned, Frannie -the rat in question- remains active, otherwise healthy, and in great spirits 🥳🎄)
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Update 2:

• My rat— possibly because of cage-territorialness, or because of his painful joint— gave me a quite a bite last week! Went to the doctor for it, and am fine now though.

• He also tested NEGATIVE FOR MYCOPLASMA, which is good news 🥳 but also pretty unusual/surprising! We will be continuing to treat him with doxycycline for a full 6-8 cycle. Doxycycline takes care of a variety of things, including lymes disease, and we’re hoping that it helps. (His front right leg swelling has gone down a bit, and is less painful for him, but is still a slight bit swollen).
 
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